The Yucca Valley football team entered the CIF-SS Division 12 semifinals against Santa Fe with supreme confidence. They had been on a roll, winning their last two playoff games by a combined score of 70-21. Buena Park, the team beat 35-0 last week, beat Santa Fe during the regular season, and it seemed like another dominant Trojan victory was bound to happen.
However, when the Trojans entered halftime tied 7-7 and frustrated, they knew they needed to lock in and make some adjustments.
“We knew coming into the second half that we needed to pick up our energy and really show that we’re the better team,” said star running back Myles Harper. “First half we came out a little sloppy with some mental mistakes, but we came out the second half ready to fix them and ready to go.”
The Trojans immediately forced three straight Chiefs punts and followed all of them up with touchdowns, resulting in a commanding 28-7 lead on the way to a 35-13 semifinal win.
The win means the Trojans will play for a CIF-SS final for the third time in school history. The Trojans lost a championship game in 1969 and won a CIF-SS title in 1996. But that was 27 years ago.
They are the first team from the desert to play for a championship since Rancho Mirage in 2016. They will be on the road Friday to face a Cerritos team which beat Coachella Valley 42-28 on Friday.
Myles Harper was the spark plug for the Trojans on Friday as he always seems to be, scoring their only touchdown of the first half and scoring on their very first play of the second half.
Yucca Valley’s defense, which only allowed a score in the first half due to a broken coverage, continued its dominance into the second half, compiling eight sacks and not allowing a first down until the start of the fourth quarter.
The Trojans cruised through the rest of the final quarter, beating the Chiefs 35-13 as rain began to fall on the field.
“We faced some adversity but I always promise them we’re going to find it, we’re going to find the hook that we need,” said Yucca Valley head coach Jeremy Johnson, “The line blocked better in the second half, our defense really played a great football game. We’ve faced adversity this year, a lot of injuries, but we’ve come back, we’re excited, and the Trojans are going to the finals.”
The Trojans are understandably excited, and while they’ll celebrate this big win they have their eyes on the ultimate prize.
“Obviously the championship is a game that’s different than any other, but we’re going to treat it like any game we’ve played, our goal is to dominate,” said quarterback Michael Ramos, “Every attitude, every person we’ve had in every game this season and playoff game was to dominate.”
The Chiefs began the second half with the ball and some momentum on their side after stopping the Trojans on fourth and goal right before halftime. The Trojans defense set the tone for the rest of the game, not allowing a yard and forcing a three-and-out. On the very first offensive play of the half for the Trojans, Myles Harper found the edge and burst 78 yards for the score. From then on it was total domination.
senior tailback Myles Harper had another huge game for the Trojans. He carried the ball 17 times 194 yards and two touchdowns and had double-digit tackles on defense. Junior quarterback Michael Ramos tossed two touchdown passes to senior wide receiver Javin Hudsonone from 55 yards and one from 6 yards out.
The defensive line was absolutely dominant. Sophomore defensive end Jasper Stewart had four sacks, senior defensive tackle Joseph Natzel had two sacks, senior defensive end Walker Rauschenberg had one sack, and sophomore linebacker Brody Herrera also had one. Herrera also finished with double-digit tackles.
Myles Harper on the defense stepping up:
“The defense stepped up incredibly. Coming into the playoffs we really took a stand on defense, shoutout to our defensive line, our linebackers, and our safeties, we really dominated the game.
Michael Ramos on the offense finding his rhythm in the second half:
“That was just unbelievable the way we came back. I always have faith in my guys, I always have trust in them. We’re a family, the way we talk to each other and hold each other to our standards, that’s what we did. We talked it out and we handled our stuff.”
Yucca Valley will play at Cerritos in the championship round of the CIF-SS Division 12 playoffs on Friday.