Chaminade’s defense plays big in win over Bishop Amat

Ryan Abughazaleh of Chaminade heads to end zone on his way to 30-yard interception return for touchdown against Bishop Amat.
(Craig Weston)

Ed who?

Whether by good fortune or great planning, West Hills Chaminade hired little known David Machuca as its football coach last January, replacing Ed Croson, who spent 13 years building up the program. All Machuca, 38, has done is guide the unbeaten Eagles to eight consecutive victories.

“They’re fun to watch,” Croson said.

Croson still helps out as a consultant but is enjoying retirement. He spent Friday morning fishing in Ventura. Meanwhile, on Friday night, the Eagles (8-0) continued their march toward a Mission League championship on homecoming night at La Puente Bishop Amat, securing a 36-29 victory, their first win at Bishop Amat.

Defense is what carried the Eagles to victory. Ryan Abughazaleh and Isaiah Chisom each returned interceptions for touchdowns and free safety Marquis Gallegos contributed two more interceptions, giving him five for the season.

“We for real,” a Chaminade player shouted on the sideline.

Chaminade scored three touchdowns in the first quarter to open a 22-0 lead. Quarterback Javance Tupouata-Johnson had two touchdown runs. Bishop Amat made a comeback when sophomore quarterback Frankie Villalbazo was put into the game. A blown coverage enabled him to connect with Julian Borrayo for an 84-yard touchdown pass. Then Delano Franklin caught a 19-yard touchdown pass at the end of the half for a 22-15 halftime score.

Franklin caught a 15-yard touchdown pass at the outset of the third quarter to tie the score. Bishop Amat appeared to have all the momentum. Chaminade was struggling with holding penalties. The Eagles twice had to punt. Then Logan Carpenter made a diving 41-yard reception to set up a two-yard touchdown run by Jaelon Barbarian with under four minutes left in the quarter.


In defeat, Bishop Amat (5-3) found its quarterback of the future. Villalbazo passed for 309 yards and three touchdowns with three interceptions.

Machuca said his team had too many mistakes but responded well after the score was tied.

“We’ve had adversity and the kids knew how to react,” he said.

Machuca spent three years working for Croson, then left for a three-year stint as an assistant at Glendale College. He returned to work for Croson another three years. Now it’s his program. He wears a white visor, calls all the plays and has his players believing in him even if others dismissed the Eagles before the season began.

“There were people who didn’t think we’d be very good,” Machuca said.

The players play with a chip on their shoulder, knowing these final three regulation season games against Bishop Amat, Chatsworth Sierra Canyon and Gardena Serra will show where they stand in the football hierarchy.

“Being the underdogs is something we’ve enjoyed as a team, being able to shock people, being able to silence the haters that didn’t believe we’d be as good as we are,” Gallegos said.

First task next week is cleaning up the offense, where there were two intentional grounding penalties and a bunch of holding penalties.

“We knew we were better than them,” Chisom said of Bishop Amat’s comeback. “We made a couple mistakes on deep balls. We had to take a moment to pause and do what we had to do.”