The Chancellors Cinderella season comes to an end.
VALLEY GLEN, CA: For head coach Marvin Street and the Chatsworth Chancellors, their season turned into a magic carpet ride. Going into the playoffs with a 4-6 record the Chancellors showed why they are the giant killers. They gave a tough fight to open division contender and cross-town division rival Granada Hills a week before their playoff run. Despite Chatsworth losing to the Highlanders in the final week of the regular season, the Chancellors proved that they could go up against the toughest high-rank programs that stand in front of them.
The Chancellors went into Division II, whipping out Poly High. Then they took down Lincoln High School and chopped down fellow top-seed in Division II, their cross-town rival San Fernando. The Chancellor's convincing victory helped them punch their ticket to the CIF City Section Division II Championship.
However, Chatsworth's Cinderella season came to an end as the magic glass slippers faded away in an overtime thriller against Fairfax 20-14. The Fairfax Lions came a long way to get to the mountaintop. The Lions earned their way to the Championship Game when they pulled a shocking upset against a previously undefeated Maya Angelou High Phoenix School 27-26.
Fairfax won the CIF City Section Division II title in overtime with a touchdown pass into the end zone to Lions wide receiver Darvens Joseph. Joseph scored the winning touchdown to give Fairfax the Championship. Joseph said Fairfax had its ups and downs but, in the end, they made it to the mountaintop.
“We had our ups and downs and we worked hard to get to where we wanted to be and our championship run speaks for itself," Joseph said. “In the second half, we stepped it up and our defense pulled us through”.
Joseph also said the important lesson that the head coach Juan Solorio has taught his team is to fight with everything you have and never stop.
“Coach Solorio and the rest of our coaches reminded us to keep pushing even if something bad happens,” Joseph said “Our hard work showed why we made it this far and we were able to capture the Division II Championship,”
Coach Solorio said he is proud of his guys and the hard work they put in to earn their way to the CIF City Section Division II title game. He said they never gave up and it paid off.
“It took a lot of character to win games like this,” Solorio said. “Our kids were down several times and they were able to fight back. I give kudos to Chatsworth and Coach Street who had done a phenomenal job with his program and gave us a good fight. Our boys work hard all year and we are proud of them. They deserved this championship”.
Coach Solorio said the win over previously undefeated Maya Angelou High School, has proven why the Lions earned their spot in the championship game. He said that Angelou was tough but they found a way to pull off the victory.
“Angelou is really tough and at this point in the semi-finals, every team is good,” Solorio said. “This coaching staff and our program is so unbelievable. They made our school and community proud today”.
For Coach Street, even though the Chancellors fell short of winning a championship he said that the season has ended on a positive note. He is proud of the adversity his team has overcome, especially being the giant killers against San Fernando.
“We knew when we faced San Fernando in the semi-finals that they were going to be tough,” Street said. “We also knew that Fairfax was going to be tough as well as being extremely athletic. We overcame adversity when the starting players got injured and our second-string players stepped in and took leadership”.
Street also said that what cost Chatsworth the game was the fumble in the overtime. He said it's a learning experience his team must work on for next season.
“You can't fumble the ball and expect to win the game,” Street said. “The fumbles had killed us but despite all that, I am proud of my guys. My goal for next year is to make sure we do not have a repeat of last year into the new season as it relates to off-the-field behavior issues. I will address this on day one of the new season and we shall not have any more off-the-field behavior issues. They now know I am serious about this issue and I am confident they have learned their lesson.”
In the first quarter of the Division II Championship, it was an epic battle both by the Chancellors and Lions for the first 12 minutes. As a result, neither team scored and the game was tied 0-0 at the end of the first quarter. Chatsworth did lose star running back and leader Isaiah Rameau to an ankle injury on the final play of the quarter.
Going into the second quarter the Chancellors would strike first. Just over two minutes in, Chatsworth’s Benjamin Gomez ran in for a 35-yard touchdown to give the Chancellors a 7-0 lead.
However, Fairfax would answer right back. With 3:51 left on the clock, the Lions’ Tristan Edwards broke free for a 45-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 end of the first half. Going into the third quarter both the Chancellors and the Lions battled hard on defense and offense. In between there were turnovers and costly penalties on both sides. With 50 seconds left in the quarter, the Lions’ Darius Jilla ran in for a 25-yard touchdown giving Fairfax a 14-7 lead at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter would turn into a battlefield as both the Chancellors and Lions pushed each other to the limit. With only 6:39 left on the clock, Jesse Leon scored a goal-line touchdown putting Chatsworth back in the game at 14-14. Chatsworth fumbled the ball away with 1:33 on the clock. They forced Fairfax to punt 30 seconds after tying the game.
With less than 10 seconds left on the clock, the Chancellor's defense sacked quarterback Ivan Levant and forced him to fumble the ball. With one second left on the clock, there was not enough time for Chatsworth to get into field goal range as time ran out and both teams faced a sudden death overtime.
Chatsworth won the coin toss for the overtime and had possession to start the overtime. Just two plays later, Chatsworth fumbled the ball allowing Fairfax a chance to take the championship. Facing a 2nd down and 19 in overtime, Levant found Joseph in the end zone for the game-winning 32-yard touchdown.
Fairfax won the Division II City title in a 20-14 victory over Chatsworth. The Lions will now move on to the State Championship Bowl. Fairfax has a bye week in Division 7-AA and will face the winner of Pertola and Ferndale in the state finals.
All Photos Courtesy of VST Intern Benjamin Becher