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Saugus survival

Centurions get a tougher test than they expected

Posted: November 21, 2008 11:16 p.m.
Updated: November 22, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Saugus High wide receiver Kollin Depew (7) runs toward the sideline against Righetti High in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoffs at Cougar Stadium on Friday.

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Saugus football survived its first-round CIF-Southern Section Northern Division game Friday night at Cougar Stadium, beating Righetti of Santa Maria 29-17.

Ryan Zirbel didn't survive it.

The Centurions' senior running back was brought down on a horse-collar tackle after a 35-yard run with 9:08 to play in the game.

On his way down, he tweaked his left ankle.

Zirbel missed the rest of the game.

"People get hurt," he said. "I landed the wrong way."
Zirbel said he didn't hear nor feel a pop in the ankle, and he was able to walk around on it after the game.
Had the game been for a championship, Zirbel said: "If it was for a ring, yeah (I'd keep playing)."

Up to that point, he ran for 213 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He also caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Desi Rodriguez.

The Centurions (8-3) will now host fourth-seeded Thousand Oaks in the quarterfinal round next Friday.

Thousand Oaks (10-1) defeated Santa Barbara 49-28 on Friday.

"We better play with a lot more focus," said Saugus head coach Jason Bornn. "Thousand Oaks is fundamentally sound. They have a big bruiser at running back (in John Lister). We better tighten up the ship next week."

It appears that Zirbel's injury might not hold him out of the the quarterfinals, but Righetti (6-5) definitely did a number on him.

Though Zirbel had his way and Rodriguez added 151 yards on 21 carries, the Warriors did intercept the quarterback on back-to-back drives in the second half and kept it close.

The difference maker for Saugus, though, came with six minutes left in the fourth quarter with the Centurions leading 22-10 and Righetti driving.

On a third-and-10 from the Saugus 45, the Centurions blitzed.

Saugus defender Kollin Depew surged forward and forced Warriors quarterback T.J. Jordan to throw off his back foot.

Centurions linebacker Mario Lara intercepted the pass and took it back 55 yards for a touchdown.

"We should have thrown it away," said Warriors head coach Gary Wilson. "We were very much so (in the game)."

Saugus controlled the game early, taking a 22-3 lead into halftime.

Zirbel took a pitch 58 yards for a touchdown with 7:27 to play in the first quarter.

Rodriguez hit Depew on a 31-yard pass midway through the second quarter.

Saugus added two-point conversions on each score to make it 16-0.

After a 31-yard field goal by Righetti, Rodriguez connected with Zirbel right before the half to set the score at 22-3.

Rodriguez's second interception led to a 62-yard pass from Jordan to running back Javon Davis, cutting the lead to 22-10.

Jordan was 11-of-26 for 278 yards.

Righetti added a touchdown with 2:54 to play on a Jordan to Matt Miller connection for 16 yards, but the Warriors would get no closer.

A big difference maker for the Centurions was Depew.
He did a lot of the little things Friday.

Saugus blitzed constantly, and it was usually Depew providing the most pressure on Jordan.

His pressure on a third down caused Righetti to settle for a field goal.

He took the ensuing kickoff 39 yards to get the Cents in good field position, setting up the quick score before halftime.

Depew even recovered a Saugus onside kick.

"He's one of those difference makers," Bornn said.

So is Zirbel, who now has 24 touchdowns this season for the Foothill League champions.

The feeling in his ankle after the game might have matched the feeling in his stomach after seeing Righetti giving his team a scare.

"We kind of had a little Foothill League hangover," he said.

They can't afford to have Righetti hangover next week.


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