Clark Phillips of La Habra, Justin Flowe of Upland put on a show

Justin Flowe of Upland is a standout linebacker.
(Shotgun Spratling / Los Angeles Times)

Football is a team game, but from a fan perspective, Thursday’s season opener between La Habra and Upland produced quite an individual matchup of Ohio State-bound cornerback Clark Phillips from La Habra and undecided All-American linebacker Justin Flowe from Upland.

It was a show to remember.

Unranked La Habra came away with a 21-14 victory thanks to a terrific start. La Habra took advantage of Upland’s aggressiveness on defense to produce first-quarter touchdown passes by quarterback Ryan Zanelli of 40 yards to Kristopher Koontz and 53 yards to Brandon Vazquez. One came during an Upland blitz and the other was after a play-action fake.

Phillips came up with two interceptions, including the game-clinching interception that allowed La Habra to run out the clock.


Flowe had an 11-yard touchdown run and was given a 15-yard penalty on a crazy tackle attempt in which he lifted Vazquez off the ground, then sent him to the turf in a move that would have been perfect for a pro wrestling event.

Vazquez made major contributions for La Habra. He also had a 24-yard touchdown in the second quarter that gave La Habra a 21-7 lead.

Upland found some success in the second half with a power running formation and using Flowe at tailback. He broke off runs of 16, 15 and 14 yards. But La Habra decided it had enough. On fourth down deep in La Habra territory, Flowe got the ball and La Habra had seven players combine to take down Flowe.

Zanelli was 15 of 22 for 224 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. He did not complete a pass in eight attempts in the second half.

In other games, Damien Moore, who missed last season with a knee injury, rushed for more than 200 yards in Bishop Amat’s 17-0 win over Diamond Ranch.

North Hollywood rallied from a 12-0 deficit to defeat View Park Prep 13-12.