SAUGUS BASKS IN UPSET VICTORY : CENTURIONS `PRETTY PSYCHED' TO FACE ANTELOPE VALLEY IN QUARTERFINALS.
The excitement around Saugus High School was more noticeable than usual for a Monday morning.
Students and teachers continued to revel in the football team's 21-13 upset of top-seeded Peninsula in the Southern Section Division II playoffs.
``The kids are fired up. The students are pretty psyched about it,'' said assistant coach Ron Hilton, who doubles as auto shop teacher. ``The players are really up. We'll see in practice how it carries over.''
Saugus will play at Antelope Valley High School on Friday in the quarterfinals.
Andy Parker, vice principal in charge of athletics, called the victory the greatest he has seen in his 19 years of watching high school football.
``Everybody's talking about it. Mostly it was (about) how great it was for the kids,'' Parker said.
Within the football program, players and coaches believed from the start that Peninsula could be beaten.
``They hadn't been hit really hard and they hadn't been tested by a physical team,'' Hilton said.
The turning point, he said, was early in the game. Peninsula drove to the Saugus 30-yard line, only to have the Centurion defense hold its ground.
``You could just see the team saying, `Hey, you're not getting anything else,' '' Hilton said.
One additional advantage: The Centurions wore longer spikes. Hilton said coach Jack Bowman visited the South Torrance High School field earlier in the week and saw that the rain had turned the field muddy. With the forecast calling for more rain, Bowman ordered three-quarter-inch spikes instead of the usual half-inch ones the team wears.
``It's a good call by Jack,'' Hilton said. ``If you talk to coaches this time of year, (the teams) usually play with these kind of cleats.''
It's happened before: Saugus' upsetting Peninsula was not unprecedented. It was the eighth time in the past 10 years that a top-seeded team has been knocked out in the first round, according to Southern Section media coordinator Art Munda. The last time before Friday was 1994, when Culver City was toppled by Santa Maria, 33-29, in Division VII.
The last time it happened in Division II was in 1991. Rio Mesa beat No. 1 Royal 10-7.
Meat eaters: Coaches usually like having their players eat a high carbohydrate meal several hours before a game. The team buses were stuck in traffic, so at 5:30 p.m., everyone sat down at Sizzler. Many ate steak and hamburger instead of the usual pasta.
It was no problem.
``You worry about it,'' Hilton said, ``but we're dealing with 17-year-old kids' metabolisms. They were done with that.''
Around the league: Other area football coaches said no one was talking about Saugus' upset at their schools. Yet they applauded the victory.
Valencia coach Brian Stiman said it shows how strong the Foothill League is.
``If a third-place team can beat the No. 1-seed, I think Burroughs and Hart could beat them also,'' Stiman said. ``The fact that Canyon and Valencia played Saugus so close indicated we could compete with teams in the playoffs.''
Stiman added he wouldn't be surprised if Saugus, Hart or both reach the semifinals or finals.
At Hart, coach Mike Herrington said the upset was the subject of conversation at the Southern Section office in Cerritos on Saturday.
``We let them know they're a good team,'' Herrington said. ``They probably would have finished second if they had their quarterback. If (Chris) Kobe had played against Burroughs, they probably would have won.''
Kobe threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns Friday. He also rushed for a team-best 55 yards and a touchdown.
Speaking of Hart: The Indians, seeded third in Division II, handled Downey 41-7.
``We were able to throw. Travis had a good night,'' Herrington said of quarterback Travis Carroll, who threw for 358 yards and two touchdowns.
One reason Hart was able to throw in spite of the weather was that the coaching staff brought every ball it had.
Three dozen were used Friday night. Two dozen were strictly for warmups, six were used in the first half and six others were used in the second half. In addition, the staff brought two large bags full of towels.
Hart uses a four-receiver plan, so on any given game, one is usually more open than the others. It mostly is Cody Joyce, who caught seven passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. It usually is not C.J. Bond. But this time, Bond caught six passes for 129 yards.
``Some games, some receivers are open, and some games, they don't get the ball,'' Herrington said. ``You have to be patient in our system. The coverages (Downey) did and the way they moved in the secondary (were reasons Bond was open), and Travis found him a few times Friday night.''