STEVE FRYER STAFF WRITER OCRegister
ORANGE * Villa Park’s football team just did something it had not done since the 1960s.The Spartans hope they can do something they have not done since the 1970s. The Spartans beat Valencia, 28-15, in a CIF-Southern Section Southwest Division second-round playoff game Friday night at El Modena High. Villa Park is 12-0 for the first time since 1968. The Spartans will play at La Habra (11-1) in the semifinals next week, with the hopes that leads to their first CIF-SS football championship since 1976. Offensive balance and defensive steadiness were the chief factors in Friday’s win. Junior quarterback Nick Sipe completed 15 of 22 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns. He did make one mistake – an interception returned 78 yards for a touchdown by Mason Paine in the third quarter – but was otherwise precise.
Spartans senior running back Ramon Chaves rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns, both 2-yard runs in the second quarter. Brennan Corbin had 114 receiving yards, including a 76-yard touchdown catch. Jake Ruiz had five receptions for 67 yards, including a 23-yard scoring reception. Villa Park, which beat Troy, 48-19, in the first round, will try to qualify for its fifth CIF-SS football championship game when it plays the top-seeded Highlanders on Friday. The Spartans’ most recent finals appearance was in 2012, when they lost to Edison in the Southwest Division game at Angel Stadium.
Valencia finished 11-1. The Tigers won the Empire League championship and last week beat University, 27-14, in the first round. Among the other highlights was Coach Mike Marrujo, the Tigers’ coach since 1981, getting his 300th career win. Villa Park coach Dusan Ancich said he was pleased with the outcome and overall performance by the Spartans offense and defense. But, as he sometimes is, Ancich was slightly dismayed by a few details. “We played a good game offensively,” Ancich said. “In the second half we got a little too conservative and put ourselves in some thirdand-long situations. We could have made some better choices and played more efficiently.”
The Spartans took an 8-0 lead in the first quarter on the Sipe-to-Corbin touchdown pass of 76 yards and Chaves’ run for two points. Valencia tied it on a 6-yard screen pass for a touchdown from Tyler Switzer to Darren Sandoval. Switzer passed to Chach Ben-Yisrael for two points to tie it 8-8. Villa Park took the lead for good, 15-8, on Chaves’ first 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. After Villa Park recovered a fumble, Chaves’ second scoring run make it 22-8. The Spartans stretched the lead to 28-8 on Sipe’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Ruiz.
Paine provided the only touchdown of the second half on his 76-yard interception return. Villa Park’s defense kept the Tigers offense in check, including a drive-stopping interception by Josh Torres on a pass tipped by teammate Khalil Wilson. It was a winning effort all around for Villa Park, which faces a tough challenge next week. “We just have to tune up,” Ancich said. “We have a talented team. We have a chance to do some good things.”