HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES : Southern Section Division VIII : Trabuco Hills Finds Success Early
Trabuco Hills High School, which, 4 years ago, couldn’t beat the likes of Melodyland, defeated Woodbridge, 34-14, Friday to win the Division VIII football championship at Mission Viejo High.
It was the first Southern Section championship in any sport for Trabuco Hills, a school that fielded its first football team in 1985.
The team, which practiced at an elementary school because the high school’s grass had not grown as fast as expected, lost its opener, 20-13, to Melodyland High. It went 2-8 that season against small schools and junior varsity teams.
All of which didn’t seem to matter this season as Trabuco Hills (12-2) controlled play throughout.
Running back Chad DeYoung, starting only his second game at that position, rushed for 126 yards in 16 carries and 2 touchdowns. The last, a 69-yard run that gave Trabuco Hills a 24-7 lead midway through the third quarter.
Quarterback David Lowery completed 14 of 28 passes for 208 yards and 2 touchdowns. In so doing, he set an Orange County single-season record for passing yardage, finishing the year with 3,293 yards, breaking the mark of 3,154 set by Capistrano Valley’s Scott Stark in 1985.
It was Lowery’s 26-yard touchdown pass to Julian Ford on a fourth-down play with 3 seconds left in the first half that may have won the game.
Trabuco Hills took a 3-0 lead with with 6:48 left in the first quarter on Brent Roper’s 31-yard field goal.
Woodbridge came back to take the lead when quarterback Fred Schweer capped a 69-yard drive with a 2-yard run into the end zone, carrying several defenders with him. Troy Holmes conversion kick gave Woodbridge a 7-3 lead with 10:03 left in the second quarter.
Trabuco Hills came right back with a 73-yard drive that ended when DeYoung scored from the 2 with 5:17 left in the first half.
With 1:32 left, Trabuco Hills got possession at its 37, but six plays later the drive had stalled at the 26. Trabuco Hills Coach Jim Barnett decided to go for it on fourth and 16.
“Coach told me to send Julian into the end zone and hit him,” Lowery said.
Which is what he did. Dropping the ball over one defender’s reach and just ahead of another’s. Ford slid as he caught the ball with 3 seconds left in the half. Roper’s kick gaved Trabuco Hills a 17-7 lead.
After DeYoung’s run, Trabuco Hills would add an 8-yard pass from Lowery to Tim Manning and a 25-yard field goal by Roper.
“This is pretty incredible,” Barnett said. “I thought this might happen one day, but not this fast.”