By Austin Block
The playoff hopes of the varsity football team, kept alive by a 34-20 comeback win over Compton Centennial in Compton, were quickly crushed by powerhouse Oaks Christian, which outplayed the Wolverines at Ted Slavin Field. The Lions advanced to the semifinals of CIF with a 45-10 victory on Nov. 27.
Gatorade California Player of the Year and star senior running back Malcolm Jones, who ran for 2,477 yards on 236 carries this season and scored 45 touchdowns, ran for four touchdowns. Nick Montana, son of legendary quarterback Joe Montana, threw two touchdown passes to Jordan Payton.
The Wolverinesâ lone touchdown came near the end of the game, long after the game was out of reach. Linebacker and quarterback Oliver Lowry â10 found Jackson Liguori â10, who caught 13 touchdown passes this season and averaged 74.8 yards per game, in the right side of the end zone.
The Lions defeated Cathedral, to whom the Wolverines lost 32-16 the next week. The Wolverines lost to defending Del Rey League Champion Serra 42-41 last Friday in overtime in the CIF title game due to a missed extra point.
Though the Wolverines had compiled a 6-3 record as of Nov. 6, they had lost to league rivals Cathedral and Serra, making the teamâs playoff fate uncertain. It had to win its final game of the season against league opponent Bishop St. Montgomery in order to bring its league record to 2-2 and make the playoffs as the third seed in the Del Rey League. The team won decisively (37-2) to extend its season for at least one more game.
“It was a wonder and a privilege to play against Oaks Christian because other teams donât get to play against top ranked teams in the nation. We were lucky enough to play them at our home field and play against some of the top recruits,” said strong safety Jordan Tolson â10, who led the team in tackles with 115 tackles (10.5 tackles per game).
In the first quarter of the game against Compton, the Wolverines fell behind 14-0 and lost starting quarterback Max Heltzer â11, who threw for 1,557 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions this year, to injury. However, the team tied the game 14-14 by halftime with Lowry at the helm. At the end of the third quarter, the Wolverines led 21-20, but they broke away in the fourth quarter to set up a home matchup that generated a large amount of excitement among fans and players. Lowry also played quarterback in the game against Oaks Christian.
“The kids played great this year,” Head Coach Vic Eumont said. “We played four of the top teams in the state and our guys held their own and fought hard.”
The team will move back to the more challenging Mission League next year along with Del Rey League rivals Serra and Cathedral after several years in the Del Rey League. Members of the Mission League include St. Francis, St. Paul, and Chaminade, who the Wolverines lost to 24-17 this year.
“When I came here four years ago thatâs what the goal was: to get back to the Mission League but to be strong enough to be able to go back and want to go back and I think weâre at that position where we want to go back,” Eumont said. “Itâs not going to be an easy league but weâre not in this to be easy.”
Lowry, who played mostly linebacker and occasionally quarterback this year, was named team MVP.
“Youâre never happy unless you win the state championship but [I am] very happy with the kidsâ efforts and how hard they worked,” Eumont said.