After starting the season 0-4, not many people believed that El Modena High School would make the Southern Section Division III playoffs. But after a convincing 31-6 victory Friday over Dominguez in a quarterfinal game at El Modena, the Vanguards are just 2 victories away from a division title.
The Vanguards (7-5), who finished second in the Century League, opened a 17-0 first-quarter lead and never looked back. Senior running back Marcus Esposito scored 2 first-quarter touchdowns on runs of 37 and 15 yards. Tim Hatcher also kicked a 37-yard field goal to help increase the first-quarter lead.
Hatcher’s field goal was his 15th of the season and he is now only 1 away from tying Art Sorce’s county and Southern Section record of 16 set in 1974. Hatcher missed a 37-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
El Modena’s defense played a big part in the victory. Dominguez (10-2) gained 197 yards in total offense, but El Modena was able to force 6 turnovers, including a 20-yard interception return by Trey Frank late in the third quarter. It was Frank’s sixth interception of the season.
He also caught a 52-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Adam Garcia with 10:15 remaining in the first half.
El Modena advances to face Los Alamitos, which defeated Schurr, 52-22, Friday.
“We aren’t looking too bad for a team 7 weeks ago that was 0-4, " said El Modena Coach Bill Backstrom.
“The team talked about getting out to a quick start tonight and that was something we weren’t able to do earlier in the year.”
Dominguez’s only scoring came on 32-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Isaac Walker to Kenny Barnes. El Modena blocked the extra point. Bruce Walker led the Dons’ offense with 118 yards in 19 carries.