It took Coach Doug Coffin only 2 years to get Santana High School’s football team where it had never been: in position to win a league title.
Robert Chavez kicked a 24-yard field goal with 4:26 remaining, and Santana held on for a 24-21 victory over Grossmont in a Grossmont League 2-A game Friday night.
The victory gives Santana (3-3, 1-0) a chance to win its first league football title and to make its first trip to the playoffs since 1977. This is the first year that Santana has played in the four-team 2-A division after 10 consecutive losing seasons as a 3-A team.
“We have to win two more games and we have to focus on that,” said Coffin, who played at Santana from 1968-70. “We haven’t had anything to focus on in the last 10 years.”
The Sultans looked as if they would dominate the game, scoring on their first two possessions for a 14-0 lead. Santana held the ball for 9:52 on its opening drive, scoring 2-yard run by Steve Cardoza.
But Grossmont rallied to tie the score at the half as the game turned into a duel between Cardoza and Grossmont’s Rick Daynes.
Cardoza finished the game with 141 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on 29 carries and 2 catches for 35 yards. Daynes finished with 98 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries and had 2 catches for 25 yards.
After quarterback Ferdi Hollis ran in from the 1 to give Santana a 14-0 lead, Grossmont scored on touchdown passes of 10 and 16 yards from Trevor Hanks to Tom Liles.
Grossmont took its opening drive of the second half 74 yards, with Daynes scoring on a 2-yard run, and the Foothillers led, 21-14.
It was then Santana’s turn to rally as Cardoza scored on a 20-yard run on the ensuing possession to tie the score.
Grossmont moved to the Santana 29 but turned the ball over on downs after a clipping penalty set it back to the 42. Santana took the ball to Grossmont’s 7, setting up the winning field goal by Chavez.
Grossmont had a chance to come back, taking over at its own 30 with 4:02 remaining. But Santana’s defense held Grossmont to 4 plays, its shortest possession of the game. The key defensive play came when Jim Buksa knocked down a pass on third and 6 at the 34.
Grossmont got the ball again with 1:09 remaining. But an attempt to lateral a completed pass back to Daynes at the Grossmont 24 went awry, and Santana’s Shane Doner recovered the fumble.