Last Friday, the Lancers opened their season up with a 47-19 win over Serra Gardena at LeBard Stadium of Orange Coast College. The Lancers came into the game ranked 57 nationally and top 10 in California, along with the fifth-hardest schedule in the nation.
The game started strong for the Lancers with a big fourth-down stop by Junior linebacker Wallace Filemu. Still, the ball was quickly turned back over to the Cavaliers from a fumble by Junior quarterback TJLateef. But the defense stepped up again, this time a mix of Filemu and Junior defensive lineman Keelan Tagoa’i. With the ball back in their hands, the offense drives down the field, with the drive capped off by a 2-yard run by Lateef for the game’s opening score and close out the first quarter, 6-0 Lancers.
Serra fired back, with their quarterback breaking a long run and a pass completion, which was fumbled into and recovered in the endzone by Serra for their first and tying score. The Lancers stayed hot, with Lateef dropping back and finding Junior receiver Tyler Hennessey for a 55-yard pass, bringing the ball to the 11-yard line. The drive is then capped off with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Hennessey to take back the lead. The defense continued its dominant showing, forcing a Serra punt. The offense showed no sign of slowing down, with a 24-yard pass to Junior Tightend AJ Ia to put the ball on the 1-yard line and capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by junior running back Steve Chavez. With halftime nearing, the defense made some crucial plays to force another punt, giving the Lancers the ball back as halftime nears. The Lancers used this time wisely, with Sophmore quarterback Alex Medyn finding Hennessy for a 23-yard compilation down the field, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run for Chavez to close out the half with the Lancers ahead 26-6.
The Lancers opened the second half up with their foot still on the gas, with Sophmore Marcellous Ryan returning the kick to the opposite 34-yard line. The Lancer continued the pressure, with a reverse to Freshman receiver Chris Flores throwing it down the field to Hennessey for a 22-yard completion, with the drive being capped off by an 8-yard rushing touchdown by Senior runningback Brayden Henson, extending the lead. Though the difference was significant, Serra did not give up, as Serra’s quarterback broke a long run to put his team into the red zone. Soon after, a 6-yard pass was completed for a touchdown to bring the lead down to 21 points. The Lancer offense couldn’t match, as they quickly punted the ball for the first and last time of the night, almost pinning it on the 1-yard line, but couldn’t stop it, resulting in a touchback. Two plays later, the defense had different plans, as Senior safety Wes Barksdale picked off a Serra pass, returning it to the 28-yard line. The third quarter ends, with the Lancers heading into the fourth up 34-13
Early into the fourth, Lateef avoided a sack and extended the play with a 17-yard run, putting the Lancer offense in the red zone. Chavez finished the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run for his third of the night, extending the lead. Serra didn’t plan on giving up just yet, returning the kickoff for a touchdown, but another blocked PAT by Marcellous would halt any momentum gained by Serra. The Lancers got the ball back and start driving, with Junior quarterback John Gazzaniga running in a 4-yard touchdown for the night’s final score. Serra got the ball back, but there wasn’t enough time, as the game ended with the Lancers winning 47-19.
TJ Lateef finished the game going 17/25 for 217 yards and two touchdowns, one passing and one running. Tyler Hennessey racked up nine catches for 162 yards and a touchdown. The running back duo of Steve Chavez and Brayden Henson combine for four touchdowns, 3 for Chavez and 1 for Henson, and a combined 135 yards on the ground. Keelan Tagoa’i ended the game with 11 total tackles and 4 TFLs. And Wallace Filemu finished with seven total tackles and a forced fumble. When asked about the game, Filemu said that ultimately, their trust in each other, the coach’s game plan, and their trust in God’s plan for them ultimately led them to victory. When asked about their upcoming game against De La Salle, Filemu said that they are just going treat it like any other game and continue their trust in one another, and Junior defensive lineman Auma Jennings said they “feel good.” It’s a promising start to the Lancer football season.