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Left no doubt

Centurions win first outright league title in team history

Posted: November 14, 2008 10:56 p.m.
Updated: November 15, 2008 2:57 p.m.

Saugus High running back Ryan Zirbel (5) breaks away for an 80-yard touchdown run Friday night versus Canyon High in a Foothill League football game at College of the Canyons.

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It's as if they couldn't wait any longer.

Thus, whoever was in charge of the sound system at Cougar Stadium Friday night cued Freddie Mercury three seconds too early.

It didn't matter.

Canyon held the ball with three seconds left in the fourth quarter with one play to go in its game against Saugus.

And they played on through "We are the champions" until time ran out on the game.

With a 56-28 Saugus victory and after a 27-year wait, that's what the Centurions are - the champions.

For the first time in school history, Saugus owns not just the Foothill League title outright, but it owns a league title outright.

The previous three titles - 1978, 1980 and 1981 - were shared Golden League titles.

"People doubted us. The paper doubted us," said Saugus running back Ryan Zirbel. "We wanted to show the doubters."

Zirbel ran for 230 yards on 21 carries scoring touchdowns of 80, 52 and 4 yards.

By halftime, he rushed for 193 yards.

"They're a high-octane offense. You can't make mistakes," said Canyon head coach Chris Varner. "You can't give (No.) 2 and (No.) 5 the ball."

The Cowboys' mistakes gave Saugus opportunities and No. 2, Saugus quarterback Desi Rodriguez, and No. 5, Zirbel, took full advantage.

Canyon (5-5, 2-3) jumped out to a 12-0 lead early - thanks to a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Adamczyk and a 75-yard fumble return for touchdown by linebacker Ryan Guevara.

But Zirbel followed the second Canyon touchdown with an 80-yard touchdown sprint for a touchdown.

It was the beginning of a 28-0 Saugus run to close out the half.

The Centurions (7-3, 5-0) scored 14 of those points off Cowboys' turnovers, including a 35-yard interception return for touchdown by Saugus defensive back Nick Patterson.

Canyon scored on its first drive of the second half on an 8-yard touchdown from Adamczyk to Kevin Voogt to cut Saugus' lead to 28-20.

Voogt had three touchdown receptions on the day.

But again the Centurions were awaken by a score.

Saugus scored 21 unanswered points.

After a Saugus fumble recovery, Rodriguez ran untouched for a 50-yard touchdown with 3:11 to play in the third quarter to give the Centurions a 49-20 lead.

Saugus and Canyon then traded touchdowns before the end of the game - Zirbel a 4-yard run and Voogt a 65-yard catch.

Rodriguez carried the ball eight times for 142 yards.
He was 6-of-11 passing for 135 yards and two touchdowns. He, nor any of these Saugus players were born the last time the Centurions were league champions.

In the years since, the Centurions have had a can't-win-the-big-one reputation.

That includes last season.

Saugus had a chance to win its first-ever Foothill League title, but lost to Hart 24-21 on a last-minute field goal.

Nonetheless, the Centurions had one of their most successful runs ever, making it all the way to the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division semifinals.

Accordingly, Saugus head coach Jason Bornn gave the team a slogan this season - "Leave no doubt."

"At the end of last season, we wanted to make sure that last season wasn't a fluke," said Saugus head coach Jason Bornn. "The kids bought into it."

In the end, they left no doubt.

cosborne@the-signal.com


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