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Junior Midgets come back in playoff

Youth football: Gladiators' squad rallies for win.

November 10, 2010|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

The La Cañada Gladiators youth football team looked discouraged even before the first snap of their first-round playoff game against the Pico Rivera Dons.

However, that feeling didn't last long,

"We just had to get their heads up, get out there and play our game," Gladiators running back Kyle Tavizon said.

The Gladiator Junior Midgets did just that after giving up a touchdown on the opening kickoff, giving Pico Rivera an early 6-0 lead.

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For the first time all year, the Junior Midgets trailed in a game. But La Cañada quickly shrugged it off, bouncing right back for a 19-6 victory.

"That was one play at the very beginning of the game and we had 39 minutes to go," La Cañada Coach Keenan Cheung said. "With the way our defense plays, and the way that we managed the clock on offense, we knew we were going to be OK. No one hung their heads."

Defense and a strong offense were the keys to the Junior Midgets' win. The Dons were held to just 130 total yards (69 rushing and 66 passing), compared to the Gladiators' 335 yards. All six of Pico Rivera's drives ended in punts or turned-over balls on downs.

Offense wasn't much of a problem for the Gladiators, as they evened the score at 6 on their third drive of the game when quarterback Kyle Cheung hit his receiver Mike Reilly for a 15-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter.

The teams entered halftime tied at 6, but it didn't take long for La Cañada to get going in the second half.

Cheung moved the offense up the field, completing a 60-yard pass to Joey McClure, putting the Gladiators at Pico Rivera's 30-yard line. Faced with a fourth down, it looked like the big gain might go to waste. But Cheung threw the ball to running back Ernesto Jauregui, who was wide open. Jauregui ran to a soft spot in the Dons' defense, caught the ball and scored an easy 30-yard touchdown to give La Cañada a 12-6 lead.

"We knew we had to get the ball out of our hands quicker because they play a soft man. I just had to lay it up there and hope our receivers could make a play," said Cheung, who finished the game with three completions on eight attempts for 90 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, along with 62 rushing yards in two carries.

The Dons' offense continued to struggle in the fourth quarter, turning the ball over on downs at the Gladiator 15-yard line.

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