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Los Amigos drops defensive battle against Rancho Alamitos in Garden Grove League opener

Los Amigos' Erubey Bermudez (7) is congratulated by teammate Pedro Hernandez, left, after scoring a touchdown.
Los Amigos’ Erubey Bermudez (7) is congratulated by teammate Pedro Hernandez, left, after scoring a touchdown against Rancho Alamitos during the first half at Bolsa Grande High on Thursday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The Los Amigos High football team had only one path to end its playoff drought last season, and that was by picking up three wins in the Garden Grove League.

Four wins during the nonleague schedule this season have provided more possibilities for the Lobos, although their coach, Romel Guess, stated after the league opener that the mission remains unchanged.

Los Amigos will look to make good on that goal in its final four games, as the Lobos took a 17-7 loss to defending league champion Rancho Alamitos on Thursday at Bolsa Grande High.

Los Amigos quarterback Maysen Navarro, left, congratulates teammate Erubey Bermudez, right, on scoring a touchdown.
Los Amigos quarterback Maysen Navarro, left, congratulates teammate Erubey Bermudez, right, on scoring a touchdown against Rancho Alamitos during the first half at Bolsa Grande High on Thursday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Self-inflicted setbacks were the undoing of the Lobos against the Vaqueros, Guess said. Los Amigos (4-2) managed just 189 yards of total offense. The Lobos also punted three times following three-and-out series and had a turnover on downs following a fumble recovery on their first four possessions of the second half.

The offensive struggles took their toll, as a defense that had largely held Rancho Alamitos’ running game in check allowed the Vaqueros to go 87 yards on a 10-play drive to start the fourth quarter. The possession, which featured only one passing play, ended with a 6-yard touchdown by Angel Diaz, providing separation for Rancho Alamitos in the form of a 17-7 lead.

Diaz found more success the next time the Vaqueros had the ball, finishing his night with a 39-yard run that allowed him to surpass the century mark on the ground. He had 22 carries for 105 rushing yards and a touchdown. Diaz added two catches for 25 yards, and he had a 34-yard field goal with 11 seconds left in the first half.

Los Amigos' Pedro Hernandez carries the ball against Rancho Alamitos during the first half at Bolsa Grande High on Thursday.
Los Amigos’ Pedro Hernandez carries the ball against Rancho Alamitos during the first half at Bolsa Grande High on Thursday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“Obviously, it feels bad to not be getting those yards,” said Diaz, who had not achieved positive yardage until his fifth carry. “Our coaches keep giving us that mentality to ‘keep going, keep pushing, and it’s going to come,’ and you saw in the second half, it happened.”

The field goal, which sent Rancho Alamitos into the break with a 10-7 advantage, resulted from an extended drive after the Lobos were called for roughing the kicker on a broken play. The Vaqueros were in punt formation when the ball was snapped over the punter’s head. The punter retrieved the ball and went into a kicking motion when the pursuit caught up with him as the ball was kicked away.

“That was a huge play, a momentum-swinger, for sure,” Guess said. “I also thought the ball was tipped, which should have negated the roughing the punter. I’m no official, and I’ve got a lot of respect for those guys, but I definitely thought the call was missed there.

“If the ball was tipped, it shouldn’t have been a roughing the punter. If that’s not called, we take over with really good field position. Instead, they swing field position, get the field goal, and instead of 7-7 or us even being up at the half, we go in trailing.”

Los Amigos quarterback Maysen Navarro, center, throws against Rancho Alamitos at Bolsa Grande High on Thursday.
Los Amigos quarterback Maysen Navarro, center, throws against Rancho Alamitos during the first half at Bolsa Grande High on Thursday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Rancho Alamitos (6-0) scored on the second play from scrimmage, as Carlos Acosta was able to break free after receiving a swing pass to the left sideline from Chris Hurley. Acosta sprinted past his teammates to the north end zone for a 76-yard touchdown.

Erubey Bermudez, who had a strong first half with four catches for 48 yards, was the target on a 6-yard touchdown toss from Maysen Navarro, as Los Amigos tied the score at 7-7 with four minutes to go in the second quarter.

After narrowly escaping against Ocean View 19-18 the week prior, Rancho Alamitos coach Mike Enright said his team went through a “tough week” of practice.

Los Amigos' Erubey Bermudez secures a pass against Rancho Alamitos at Bolsa Grande High on Thursday.
Los Amigos’ Erubey Bermudez secures a pass against Rancho Alamitos at Bolsa Grande High on Thursday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“When I mean tough week, I was on them hard, because that last week’s performance was not acceptable,” said Enright, who has coached at Rancho Alamitos for 23 years. “We got a standard we’re trying to stick to, and we knew the winner tonight would be in first place.

“We knew Los [Amigos], they were going to be tough. They’re tough every year. The Los [Amigos] game, no matter what … it’s just a royal battle every time.”

Adrian Ramirez had an interception, and Nico Campos and Mauricio Rios each recorded a sack for the Los Amigos defense.

Los Amigos' Nico Campos (20) tackles Rancho Alamitos' Angel Diaz for a loss of yards at Bolsa Grande High on Thursday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Up next for Los Amigos is a home game against Loara, which won the CIF Southern Section Division 14 title last season, on Oct. 7.

“We’re definitely excited for these next four games,” Guess said. “When you get to .500, you have hope for the at-large, but we’re not trying to hang our hat on that, for sure. We need three wins to ensure our spot, and that’s definitely the plan to get those sooner rather than later.”

Garden Grove League

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Los Amigos 0 – 7 – 0 – 0 — 7

Rancho Alamitos 7 – 3 – 0 – 7 — 17

FIRST QUARTER

RA — Acosta 76 pass from Hurley (Diaz kick), 11:03.

SECOND QUARTER

LA — Bermudez 6 pass from Navarro (Bermudez kick), 4:21.

RA — Diaz 34 FG, 0:11.

THIRD QUARTER

None.

FOURTH QUARTER

RA — Diaz 6 run (Diaz kick), 8:11.

INDIVIDUAL RUSHING

LA — Navarro, 10-39; Hernandez, 10-36.

RA — Diaz, 22-105, 1 TD.

INDIVIDUAL PASSING

LA — Navarro, 13-22, 114, 1 TD.

RA — Hurley, 12-22-1, 183, 1 TD.

INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING

LA — Bermudez, 5-69, 1 TD.

RA — Acosta, 2-85, 1 TD.

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