When it comes to drama, the early leader on the season has to be La Habra. A week after taking Orange Lutheran to the wire -- the Highlanders had the ball in Lancer territory as time expired on a 21-17 loss -- La Habra sweated out a 23-17 victory Thursday over La Mirada from the OLu point of view.
The game matched teams that won section titles last season -- although La Habra has won three in a row -- and it didn't disappoint. It might have been skewed somewhat because La Habra held out star quarterback Cody Clements to give him additional time to rehabilitate his knee for next week's opponent -- No. 1 Servite. Not as if that won't create more tension for the Highlanders.
With the score tied at 17-17 Ahmad Avery scored on a five-yard run with 4:19 left, but the point-after try was missed. That meant La Mirada could win it with a touchdown and extra point. The Matadores (0-2) reached as far as the 13-yard line but couldn't advance the ball over the next three plays.
Credit goes to Matt Yackey and Alex Ibarra for successfully filling in at QB in a big game. Last week, coach Frank Mazzotta told his players that Yackey, in particular, was a senior quarterback like Clements who had worked hard all summer just like everyone else in the program. Five of nine passing for 59 yards, Yackey rewarded that faith by directing the game-winning drive 65 yards in nine plays.
Drake Griffin rushed for 116 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown, Vai Peko returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score, and La Habra continued to raise the bar when it comes to nailbiters.