Paraclete Leaves Yucca Valley Feeling All Wet
Players caked with mud belly-flopped on the field in jubilation while their coach talked about dancing in the rain.
Paraclete High’s jubilation was understandable, considering the Spirits had just qualified for their first Southern Section final since 1969.
The Spirits defeated defending champion Yucca Valley, 28-6, Friday night in a sloppy Division XI semifinal game at Quartz Hill High to advance to the championship game on Friday.
Paraclete (12-1) will meet the winner of the semifinal game tonight between Riverside Banning and Riverside Notre Dame.
“We’re going to the dance,” said sophomore quarterback Robbie Fockaert, who passed for two touchdowns to Tommy Breech. “I can’t believe it.”
The Spirits took advantage of three Yucca Valley fumbles to break open a 6-6 game with 16 third-quarter points.
Sophomore kicker John McMurtry, who had attempted only two field goals this season, gave the Spirits a 9-6 lead with a 34-yard field goal from the muddiest spot on a field that was constantly beaten with heavy rain.
“That was the biggest field goal of his life,” said Steve Hagerty, Paraclete’s coach.
The Spirits added a nine-yard scoring pass from Fockaert to Breech, then scored when Yucca Valley (9-4) fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Fockaert returned it six yards for a touchdown.
“I’m sure neither team put their best foot forward,” said Hagerty, whose team gained only 139 yards after averaging 344 during the regular season. “But that’s the game.”
The victory was sweet revenge for the No. 2-seeded Spirits, who were ousted by Yucca Valley, 25-15, in the second round last season.
“We had to give them what they gave us last year,” said Fockaert, who completed six of 11 attempts for 47 yards, including a five-yard touchdown to Breech in the first quarter to tie the score, 6-6.
Sean Fraser moved from starting quarterback to running back last week when standout Dominic Washington was sidelined with a sprained ankle. He remained at the position this week, sharing time with Washington, who gained 84 yards in 17 carries.
Fraser had 21 yards in eight carries, including a four-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.
Paraclete’s defense allowed the Trojans only 100 yards, 14 coming in the second half.
The teams combined for 139 yards in a first half that ended in a 6-6 tie.
Thanks to some gutsy play calling, the Trojans took a 6-0 lead on the game’s first drive.
Less than two minutes into the game, Yucca Valley went for a first down on a fourthandtwo at its 33.
Quarterback Kevin Lesko gained three yards on a sneak, continuing a drive that eventually covered 75 yards in 15 plays.
Garrett Vatcher finished the six-minute, seven-second drive with a two-yard touchdown run over left tackle.
The Spirits tied the score early in the second quarter on Fockaert five-yard quick slant to Breech.
Division XI Championship
Paraclete vs. Banning or Notre Dame
* Site and time of game to be announced