Saturday, May 18, 2024

Serra football falls to Sierra Canyon in Division 2 quarterfinal

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  • Sierra Canyon QB Damon Wrighster (9) is under pressure in...

    Sierra Canyon QB Damon Wrighster (9) is under pressure in the CIF SS Div. 2 quarterfinal against Serra High School on Friday, November 11, 2022. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Sierra Canyon running back Dane Dunne (25) runs the ball...

    Sierra Canyon running back Dane Dunne (25) runs the ball for a touchdown in the CIF SS Div. 2 quarterfinal against Serra High School on Friday, November 11, 2022. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Serra running back Cincere Rhaney (3) carries the ball in...

    Serra running back Cincere Rhaney (3) carries the ball in the CIF SS Div. 2 quarterfinal against Sierra High School on Friday, November 11, 2022. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Sierra Canyon running back Dane Dunne (25) runs the ball...

    Sierra Canyon running back Dane Dunne (25) runs the ball for a touchdown in the CIF SS Div. 2 quarterfinal against Serra High School on Friday, November 11, 2022. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Serra’s Zacharyus Williams (19) carries the ball in the CIF...

    Serra’s Zacharyus Williams (19) carries the ball in the CIF SS Div. 2 quarterfinal against Sierra High School on Friday, November 11, 2022. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Sierra Canyon running back Dane Dunne (25) runs the ball...

    Sierra Canyon running back Dane Dunne (25) runs the ball for a touchdown in the CIF SS Div. 2 quarterfinal against Serra High School on Friday, November 11, 2022. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Serra running back Cincere Rhaney (3) carries the ball in...

    Serra running back Cincere Rhaney (3) carries the ball in the CIF SS Div. 2 quarterfinal against Sierra High School on Friday, November 11, 2022. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Serra’s Zacharyus Williams (19) carries the ball in the CIF...

    Serra’s Zacharyus Williams (19) carries the ball in the CIF SS Div. 2 quarterfinal against Sierra High School on Friday, November 11, 2022. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Serra running back Cincere Rhaney (3) carries the ball for...

    Serra running back Cincere Rhaney (3) carries the ball for a touchdown during first-quarter play in the CIF SS Div. 2 quarterfinal against Sierra High School on Friday, November 11, 2022. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Sierra Canyon running back Dane Dunne (25) runs the ball...

    Sierra Canyon running back Dane Dunne (25) runs the ball for a touchdown in the CIF SS Div. 2 quarterfinal against Serra High School on Friday, November 11, 2022. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Sierra Canyon’s Nevada Miller (26) runs the ball in the...

    Sierra Canyon’s Nevada Miller (26) runs the ball in the CIF SS Div. 2 quarterfinal against Serra High School on Friday, November 11, 2022. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Sierra Canyon running back Dane Dunne (25) runs the ball...

    Sierra Canyon running back Dane Dunne (25) runs the ball for a touchdown in the CIF SS Div. 2 quarterfinal against Serra High School on Friday, November 11, 2022. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

GARDENA — The night started perfectly for the top-seeded Serra football team.

Rodrick Pleasant took the opening kickoff 83 yards to start the game and Cincere Rhaney capped the short possession with a 6-yard touchdown run and an early lead.

That was followed by a quick three-and-out by the Sierra Canyon offense.

However, as perfect as the start was for the Cavaliers (7-5), the rest of the game didn’t go as smoothly as Sierra Canyon regrouped and rolled to a 42-16 CIF-Southern Section Division 2 quarterfinal win Friday.

“We just didn’t play well,” Serra coach Scott Altenberg said. “They (Sierra Canyon) did a great job. … We came out strong, but we didn’t sustain any of it. We had a bad day on offense, we had a bad day on defense, not a really good day on special teams either.

“I give them all of the credit, they played better than us and they deserved it.”

When the teams met during the regular season in the Mission League, Sierra Canyon won 35-21.

The Trailblazers (8-4) found their legs and their way into the game on the ground and the Cavaliers couldn’t stop them.

Dane Dunn rushed for 271 yards on 20 carries and four touchdowns. He also added a receiving touchdown. Terrell Cooks Jr. added 92 rushing yards on 14 carries and one touchdown.

“We made some adjustments,” Sierra Canyon coach Jon Ellinghouse said, referring to the first meeting between the teams. “Anytime you play a team twice, you have to get some wrinkles in there. We’re a team right now that wants to own the line of scrimmage and play physical football and I think we were obviously able to do that.

“What a great 1-2 punch in Dane (Dunn) and Chop (Terrell “Choppa” Cooks), it was fun to watch them go out and perform.”

Sierra Canyon (8-4) will have another Mission League rematch in next week’s semifinals when it faces Bishop Amat.

After the fast start by Serra, Sierra Canyon tied the game on Dunn’s 8-yard reception from Damon Wrightster. In the second quarter, Sierra Canyon took a 14-7 lead on Dunn’s 3-yard touchdown.

Coming out of the halftime break, Sierra Canyon put some distance between it and Serra, going 79 yards in three plays, ending with Dunn’s 20-yard touchdown for a 21-7 lead.

“We were missing some guys, that’s not an excuse because everybody is missing guys at this point,” Altenberg said. “We just weren’t ready to go. We just weren’t ready to go today and when guys went down, we didn’t have the subs to go (in), we missed Kai (Honda) a lot on offense, we missed other guys … it was what it was.”

Also missing was Pleasant, who suffered a lower leg injury in the third quarter and sat out the rest of the game.

Despite the two-score deficit, the Cavaliers had a chance to get back into the game. In the third quarter, Honda’s punt was down at the 1 and on the second play, the Serra defense forced a safety, cutting the score to 21-9.

After the short kick, Serra took over on the Sierra Canyon 35, but on the first play, Sierra Canyon linebacker Xavier White went in the air to intercept a Jimmy Butler pass. Later in the quarter, Sierra Canyon added an 11-yard touchdown run from Dunn for a 28-9 lead.

“Quarterback battled all year,” Altenberg said of Butler. “He’s young though. Some of the stuff, it’s a lot of learning. … Some of those plays were tough. In these big games, play after play becomes critical, so for me, it’s like one of those things where you hope you learn from those mistakes and you still win, but this one we didn’t.”

“It’s going to be tough, but we have to fight back. This has happened before. We haven’t won it every year and now we have to regroup and go from there. “

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