Reseda's Big-Play Defense Comes Through

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It was the kind of play that sometimes changes the face of a championship game.

Trailing by three points early in the fourth quarter and faced with fourth and one near midfield, Eagle Rock High quarterback Red Navarrette snuck behind left guard for the necessary yardage.

The play could have been damaging for Reseda in the City Section 3-A championship game Friday night at Birmingham High, but the Regent defense responded by rebounding in a way that clinched a title.

On the next snap, Sebastian Zepeda recovered a fumbled exchange.

Indeed, Reseda's defense made the necessary plays in a 10-7 victory over Eagle Rock as the Regents claimed their first City title since 1986.

Other than a 48-yard scoring pass from Navarrette to John Fontamillas with a little more than four minutes remaining, Reseda's defense was in control.

"Other than one big mistake, our defense won the game for us," Reseda Coach Joel Schaeffer said.

Second-seeded Reseda (11-3) held top-seeded Eagle Rock (11-3) to one yard in the third quarter. The Eagles, who rely on a balanced attack, were held to two yards rushing in 17 carries, although that included a 25-yard loss by Navarrette on the game's final play.

Navarrette completed nine of 16 passes for 140 yards with one interception, by Tony DeLaTorre deep in Reseda territory late in the third quarter.

"We rely a lot on emotion," said middle linebacker Buddy Frederich. "We've believed in it all season. It worked for us tonight like it did against Monroe." Reseda blanked Monroe, 24-0, last week.

The Regent defense stepped up its intensity throughout the playoffs, holding opponents to 9.3 points a game--4.1 points better than it did in the regular season.

Reseda got the break it needed when Tony Mendoza recovered a muffed punt by Fontamillas early in the third quarter at the Eagle Rock 13.

The turnover led to a field goal by Tom Gutierrez and the Regents were ahead to stay.

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