ORANGE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL / PREP EXTRA : DIVISION I : Redlands Eliminates Third-Seeded Aztecs
Although Esperanza quarterback David Parrish enjoyed the biggest night, unseeded Redlands made the big plays that counted and posted a 38-31 victory in a Southern Section Division I first-round playoff game Friday night at Valencia High.
Redlands running back Johnny Fultz rushed for 128 yards and scored three touchdowns for the Terriers (7-4), who advanced to the quarterfinals to play La Puente Bishop Amat.
Third-seeded Esperanza (8-3), which finished the regular season as the county’s top-ranked team, made its third consecutive first-round exit from the playoffs, although Parrish completed 24 of 32 passes for 323 yards, all single-game school records.
Last season, Trabuco Hills beat Esperanza, 23-12, in the first round and two years ago, Dominguez bounced the Aztecs in the first round, 35-19.
The three first-round losses came after Esperanza had appeared in three consecutive section title games from 1990-92 and won championships in 1990 and ’92.
Parrish, a junior, seemed determined to help the Aztecs begin a new championship run.
He completed 16 of 23 passes for 227 yards in the second half, highlighting an offensive outburst in which the teams combined for 42 points in the final 17 minutes.
But things were bleak early for Esperanza.
Redlands’ Lenny Snyder gave his team a 24-3 halftime lead after he returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown with 18 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Garrick Nicols gave Esperanza the spark it needed in the second half, recovering a third-quarter fumble at the Redlands 31, then Jamal Footman scored the team’s first touchdown on a two-yard run.
After the teams traded touchdowns, Parrish led Esperanza on a 65-yard scoring march, finishing it with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Todd Brighton with 6:03 remaining in the fourth quarter. Esperanza trailed, 31-24.
But Fultz, who scored on a 59-yard run and a 65-yard pass in the first half, responded by scoring on an 18-yard run with 3:40 remaining.
Parrish moved the Aztecs 65 yards in less than a minute, connecting with Pat Swanson for a 23-yard touchdown pass with 2:45 remaining to make it, 38-31. But Redlands recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt.