By Josh Levine
Greg Warren ran for 172 of Balboa High School’s 228 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns, as the visiting Bucs clinched the fourth and final Academic Athletic Association playoff spot over Burton High School with a 54-28 win on Friday.
Warren’s biggest gain was a 91-yard touchdown run that gave Balboa a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter.
“Line, line, line. It was all my offensive line,” Warren said. “I’ve never been to the playoffs before and this might be the last time.”
The Buccaneers (4-7, 4-3) jumped out early, scoring a touchdown on their drive, then Andres Arellano blocked an Alex Love punt and returned it for a touchdown to give the Buccaneers a 14-0 first-quarter lead. The special teams touchdown was the first in Arellano’s career.
“Those opening drives really set the tone for the game,” said Arellano. “My team depends on me to block those kicks and to play good defense.”
The Pumas (4-6, 3-4) amassed 398 total yards on offense, including 269 on the ground. Dumar Afalava and Larry Stubbs led the way with 119 and 78 yards, respectively.
The Pumas played most of the game without standout running back Delron Marman, who was ejected in the first quarter after receiving two consecutive personal fouls for arguing with a referee.
“The loss of Marman hurt us so bad,” said Burton head coach Anthony Rollins. “Not only did it hurt our production, but it hurt our morale. He’s one of our biggest playmakers and I can count on him for two touchdowns a game.”
In the beginning of the second half, Marman was still on Burton’s sideline with his uniform and shoulder pads off, but started talking to referees again. The officials stopped play and Marman had to be restrained by assistant coaches.
“I feel bad for him honestly,” said Balboa head coach Alvaro Carvajal. “It’s the final game of the season and to get ejected like that can’t be easy. I didn’t pay much attention to it after that. We just kept doing what we were doing on defense.”
The game featured several other heated confrontations and altercations.
“I told our guys out there that we need to just play our game and keep our composure,” said Balboa defensive captain and linebacker Christian Pulusian. “We just needed to not give up and keep up the pressure.”
For Burton, the 2010 season is officially over, but Rollins was proud of his team, which set a school record for wins this season.
“I reminded the guys that other players, coaches, and fans are always watching,” Rollins said. “Sometimes emotions run high, and even though [the Bucs were] not angels today, we needed to keep it together. We really ran out of gas at the end.”
Balboa will play top-seeded Mission High School in the AAA semifinals next week, who beat up Balboa 50-38 on Nov. 6. Carvajal sees the game as a chance at redemption.
“When we play Mission, we need to tackle and keep our heads on a swivel,” Carvajal said. “This is our chance for redemption and we need to prove it on defense. Our offense put up all those points, but [we] could have been better. [We’ll] be ready to go next week.”
Bal: 9:15 — Sean Katley 14-yard run (Conversion failed)
Bal: 6:49 — Andres Arellano 15-yard return on blocked punt (Eric Sutton pass from Kerati Apilakvanichakit on conversion)
Bal: 10:11 — Greg Warren 91-yard run (Warren run on conversion)
Bur: 4:41 — Alex Moreno 4-yard run (Dumar Afalava run on conversion)
Bal: 2:44 — Sutton 41-yard pass from Apilakvanichakit (Warren carry on conversion)
Bur: 10:58 — Allan Abilar 58-yard pass from Moreno (Conversion failed)
Bal: 2:47 — Sutton 14-yard pass from Apilakvanichakit (Sutton pass from Apilakvanichakit on conversion)
Bur: 11:24 — Afalava 28-yard run (Simi Kofe run on conversion)
Bal: 10:32 — Warren 61-yard run (Sutton pass from Apilakvanichakit on conversion)
Bur: 8:18 — Afalava 41-yard run (Conversion failed)
Bal: 7:37 — Katley 34-yard pass from Apilakvanichakit (Sutton run on conversion)