By Graham Henderson
Balboa High School senior quarterback Kerati Apilakvanichakit threw one interception on the way the Buccaneers’ 54-0 win over visiting Lincoln on Saturday. It was his only mistake of the whole game, and he made up for it on the same play.
Lincoln defensive back Ricky Stevens picked off Apilakvanichakit’s pass in the second quarter, but was hit hard by the Balboa running back Greg Warren, forcing a fumble. Apilakvanichakit then picked up the loose ball and sprinted 75 yards downfield to score.
“When Greg Warren stripped the ball, it was like when the NFL players say the game slows down. I just saw the ball tumbling,” Apilakvanichakit said. “It was just unbelievable. It was like redemption.”
The play accounted for 7 of the 21 points that Balboa (2-5, 2-1) scored off of four Lincoln (0-7, 0-3) turnovers.
The win helps to bolster Balboa’s Academic Athletic Association playoff hopes. With the loss, Lincoln is likely eliminated from the playoff picture.
“We didn’t play very well, but we played as a team today,” Lincoln head coach Phil Ferrigno said. “We’ve got to get our young guys better so we have something to build on for next year.”
There are only five seniors on the Mustangs roster this year, and the young offense, led by sophomore quarterback Derek Morrell, never found its groove.
Morrell was 0-for-4 passing with one interception, and the team was 0-for-9 on third down, earning only three first downs the entire game, one of which was a result of a roughing the kicker call against the Buccaneers.
When the Lincoln defense was able to break open a play, Apilakvanichakit and his offense were quick to adapt.
“We finished, even on plays that went wrong for us,” Balboa head coach Alvaro Carvajal said. “We go over a lot of situational things during practice, so that translates into the game.”
In addition to Apilakvanichakit, who finished the game throwing 4-for-10 with the one interception, the Buccaneer offense was led by the running backs Warren and Sean Katley.
Balboa kept the ball safely on the ground most of the second half, with Warren and Katley taking hand-offs from Apilakvanichakit.
Kately ran for 69 yards on nine carries and scored twice, while Warren carried the ball 13 times for 151 yards and three touchdowns. The Balboa offensive line made holes for both players.
“I love my line, man,” Warren said. “I can’t move one yard without my line.”
B: 9:56 — Christian Pulusian 12- yard pass from Kerati Apilakvanichakit (Eric Sutton kick good)
B: 5:39 — Greg Warren 7-yard run (Sutton kick good)
B: 1:17 — Sean Katley 13-yard run (Sutton kick good)
B: 0:16 — Dexter Best 18-yard run fumble return (Sutton kick)
B: 9:48 — Apilakvanichakit recovers fumble, 75-yard run. (Sutton pass from Apilakvanichakit on conversion)
B: 6:16 — Warren 22-yard run. (Sutton kick good)
B: 11:17 — Warren 70-yard run. (Sutton kick good)
B: 11:02 — Katley 5-yard run. (Conversion failed)