Derrick Reaves had some hefty ambitions when the football season began back in September.
All the senior free safety for Esperanza High School wanted, mind you, was to help the Aztecs win the Southern Section Division III title and either tie or break the school record for interceptions in a season.
Saturday night at Cerritos College, Reaves accomplished both. The Aztecs capped an undefeated season at 14-0 by defeating St. Paul, 25-7, to take home the championship. And Reaves picked off two passes by St. Paul quarterback Albert Borunda--the last with 7 minutes 10 seconds remaining--to equal the school record of 11 set by Kevin Olson in 1982.
“I’m just ecstatic,” Reaves said.
Reaves and senior linebacker Mark Parlin, who also intercepted a Borunda pass, were the chief forces behind the tough Esperanza defense.
But Reaves looked at his two big plays as nothing more than routine stuff for a defensive unit that allowed two touchdowns or more in only three games this season.
“The two closest guys (defenders) are locked up on the receiver, and I play deep half,” Reaves said. “I just have to keep everything in front of me and react to it.”
And with each of his timely reactions, a bit more steam went out of the St. Paul effort. Reaves said he felt it and saw it both times.
“It just stops them in their tracks,” Reaves said. “They think they have some hope, and then we stop them dead. . . . We have the best defense in Southern California, and I think we proved it time and time again.”
Esperanza Coach Gary Meek was quick to join in on the hallelujahs for his defensive team.
“When we forced them to throw we made some great plays in the secondary,” Meek said. “The key to the game was when Mark Parlin intercepted that one, and we put it in there. That killed them.”
Said Reaves: “It’s been like that all year. All we had to do was hold them and we’d win.”
Reaves and company handled that job pretty well Saturday night.