The Eagles Advance to the Quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Championship Playoffs
By Lynn Guerin
The Rancho Christian Eagles passed its first test Friday night with a hard fought 24-17 win over the Laguna Beach Breakers. The outcome of the game went down to the last minute of the 4th quarter, with the likelihood of overtime looming large,but The Rancho offense sustained a five minute drive and ran out the clock for the win.
Laguna Beach opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 32 yard field goal by Noah Mandel. It came after Rancho failed to capitalize on big plays like a 50 yard strike from Carter Treadway to Joseph Schuman but penalties and untimely fumbles kept Rancho off the scoreboard.
Late in the first quarter Jaden Schieberl broke loose for 68 yards and scored his first of 3 td’s on the night. Emma Baker made the kick and Rancho lead . 7-3.
Laguna Beach came right back marching down the field on the strong arm and quick feet of quarter back Curtis Harrison. But a promising drive came to a screeching halt on a Jo Jo Saatzer interception, his first of 2 very timely takeaways.
Following the interception Jaden Schieberl broke loose on a twisting dash up the middle and scored from 22 yards out. Following the Emma Baker PAT- Rancho lead 14-3 and seemed to be in a comfortable position.
Both teams spent much of the second quarter marching up and down the field gaining yards but not scoring. Penalties and fumbles and bad execution at the wrong time-often in the red zone, kept the score 14-3 until late in the second quarter when Laguna Beach‘s Curtis Harrison rushed in from the 12 yard line to close the gap to 14-10.
Rancho Christian went right to work quickly covering 65 yards. 49 of the yards coming on a Carter Treadway to Jo Jo Saatzer completion down to the 2 yard line. A 15 yard penalty and a 2 loss on a run gave Emma Baker a field goal attempt from the 19. The Kick went wide right and the half ended 14- 10 .
The 3rd quarter looked a lot like the second with a lot of offense on both sides but little to show for it. Rancho Christian was able to get a field goal on the board on a no-doubter by Emma Baker from 36 yards out, making the score 17-10 midway through the 3rd quarter.
Late in the 3rd quarter Laguna Beach put together a 65 yard drive-with scrambling runs by Curtis Harrison and hard driving by Victor Castillo. Sean Nolan had 2 receptions including a 24 yard grab to keep the drive alive. Harrison ran it in from 8 yards to tie the score at 17-17.
Rancho Senior Leadership and championship mettle showed itself immediately when Captain Carter Treadway went to work and hit Paul Nichols on a 52 yard bomb. Jaden Schieberl took it the rest of the way, scampering in from 13 yards out. Emma Baker’s kick was true and Rancho lead 24-17.
That was how it ended but not without some drama. Laguna Beach put together what looked like a drive to tie the score. But a big play interception again by Mister Everywhere Jo Jo Saatzer gave the ball back to the Eagles and they held on to the ball for the last 4 and a half minutes to seal the victory.
Hard nosed CIF Southern Section playoff football by two well coached teams from high character programs gave the fans a great show. It also gives Rancho Christian another week of continuing their quest.
With the victory Rancho ran its season record to 8 wins and 3 losses. Laguna Beach closed out its 2017 season at 5-6.
Photos by Erin Baker