Irvine players celebrate after winning the Dennis Toohey Fence Post Trophy on Friday night. (Photos: Fernando M. Donado, for OC Sports Zone)
Irvine High’s football team won the Dennis Toohey Fence Post Trophy, rallying with a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to defeat Portola 21-17, in a Pacific Hills League showdown in front of a large crowd in Portola on Friday evening.
The Vaqueros (9-0, 2-0) also clinched a share of the league title with a league game remaining next Friday against Laguna Hills at Irvine Stadium.
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Portola scored the only points in the first half from a field goal, but the excitement grew in the second half and the two teams fought to the end. It was the return of Portola.
“Our goal was to show everyone that we are the best team in Irvine and that we are bringing Irvine one high school at a time, that was our goal all week,” Irvine coach said, Tom Ricci. “City champions, league champions, we are now looking forward to next week, then CIF. I can not wait.
This was the first time Irvine had won the Fence Post since 2013. Portola was the last winner in 2019. Irvine won the Pacific Valley League title in the abridged spring season, but the Fence Post Trophy did not. has not been awarded.
Portola (7-2, 0-2) gave Irvine everything he could handle from the start (Irvine beat Canyon 21-17 earlier this year) and held a 17-7 lead at the end of the third quarter after a 3-yard TD from Nova Kebeli. But Irvine responded with a 48-yard TD executed by Cameron Goods at the end of the third quarter and took a 21-17 lead on a 3-yard TD executed by Jack Condon with 3:32 left in the game.
The touchdown was set up when Goods, with Irvine deep in his own territory on the second down, threw a 51-yard pass to Matthew Prak who moved the ball to the Portola 31.
“Coach (Peter) Abe had a great plan for us,” said Ricci. “If they want to put the key on Cameron (Goods) so hard, we have to start using other guys and I threw everything at them except the kitchen sink.” We wanted the win, but we were going to get it.
“It was a team effort all around, we knew we couldn’t just rely on Cam they were taking her so we had to use two different QBs, a few different receivers, a few gadget games and our defense played. very loud, it was great all around.
Abe, Portola’s coach, was proud of his team’s efforts and said the Bulldogs still have a shot at making the CIF playoffs.
“It’s out of our hands, we have to win (against Dana Hills), Irvine has to win, if we get any help, if we win, we have a three-way tie for second place, then a quarterback decides of everything (with a toss), ”said Abe.
“I couldn’t be prouder; these guys did exactly what we needed to do. We asked them to respond after a tough test last week and they did. Best week of training, the most locked up, the most concentrated. We definitely played like we trained so I was very excited to see.
The game also pitted two of the county’s top running backs: Kebeli and Goods, who both led their teams offensively but had to work for every yard. Kebeli ran for 155 yards on 31 carries while Goods had 152 yards on 21 carries.
“I always told you that our first goal was to win the league and be the champion of the city because in the last few years we haven’t been able to do it, it’s been difficult, but it’s so nice to to be able to win a game like this in the fashion it was, “Goods said.” Winning that fence post and being able to hold it means the world to us. I’m so proud of my boys that they didn’t. not bent. They passed and they got away with it. “
Goods was delighted to see his teammate Prak pull off a big catch.
“The coach put that game on the line a while back,” Goods said. “I’m so happy because this is my boy’s first reception, he’s been working all year and he doesn’t have time to shine. I told him big guys hit big in big games. I was just happy that I was able to give him his first reception.
Portola took a 3-0 lead on a 20-yard field goal from Tyler McMullen late in the first half.
The Bulldogs extended their lead to 10-0 in the third quarter when Micah Talapatra intercepted a pass and sent it back 65 yards for a score.
Irvine reduced the lead to 10-7 when Condon connected with Logen Wilson in the third quarter to stay within striking distance.
Portola used two quarters: Sonny Tierney had 49 yards and Samuel Sandoval had 45 yards. Irvine also used two quarterbacks with Joseph Tierney (Sonny’s brother) to start the game. He managed 34 yards but the Portola defense recorded three interceptions.
–Tim Burt, OC Sports Za; [email protected]