Los Alamitos High School varsity football played their second game in a row at Davidson Field in Newport Beach, with last week’s opponent being the Corona del Mar Sea Kings. The Griffins wasted no time in striking first and taking a 14-0 lead. However, they were unable to pull away and allowed the Sea Kings to remain in the game.
The Griffins held their collective breath as they watched Makai Lemon, their star wide receiver, hobble off of the field late in the second quarter with what appeared to be a leg injury. Lemon’s early exit was reminiscent of the Basha (Arizona) game. In that game, the Griffins were up 21-0 after one quarter and dominating the Bears.
However, Lemon’s early exit completely changed the complexion of that game, leading to Basha coming from behind to win the game. The first half of this week’s game finished with the Griffins leading the Sea Kings 21-7.
If having your star wide receiver get injured was a test, how would you describe losing arguably the best quarterback in the nation? Midway through the third quarter of a 21-14 game, Malachi Nelson fell to the turf as he grabbed his leg with what appeared to be a cramp. You could hear a pin drop in the stadium as he was helped off the field.
Michael Jordan was quoted as saying, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Enter freshman quarterback Jaden O’Neil, whose only snaps this year came in blowout wins over Garces and Newport Harbor. The entire team, including the coaching staff, was about to be tested.
The offensive line imposed its will on the much smaller Corona del Mar defensive line. The Griffins marched right down the field, mixing in a few short passes from O’Neil, and got one of five touchdowns on the night from Damien Henderson (4 rushing / 1 receiving).
With a freshman quarterback in the game and its two best offensive weapons on the bench, the Griffins needed to rely on its defense now more than ever. Co-Defensive Coordinators Michael Cobleigh and John Eyman had their squad up for the task. Over the next three drives, their defense forced a fumble, an interception for a touchdown, and gave up one first down. In the end, the Griffins won 49-14.
When asked how he felt the defense played in the second half, safety Isaiah Dorsey said, “The second half gave everyone a glimpse of how great our defense can be. We knew that all the pressure was going to be put on us to win the game.” When asked how it felt knowing the defense significantly contributed to the win this week, he said, “I feel like it gave all of us more confidence knowing that we can rely on the defense in tough situations, especially since we are getting close to the playoffs.”
As for the injuries, Nelson was determined to have a cramp in his left calf and will be ready for the next game against Edison. Details of Lemon's status were not provided.
The Griffins have arguably their most important game of the year thus far coming up on Thursday, October 13 against the undefeated Edison Chargers. The Chargers are currently ranked #7 in the state by Max Preps while the Griffins sit at #10. The winner of this game will be sitting in the driver’s seat of the Sunset League. The game will be held at Cap Sheue Field in Huntington Beach at 7 p.m.