We are the Champions

After going into overtime, Arroyo has beat Rancho Mirage and claimed the title of CIF Champions.

Lilly Forsyth, Editor-in-chief

After a nail-biting game between the top two schools in Division 12, Arroyo has officially claimed the CIF Champion title after 30 years with a score of 35-34.

While temperatures were low in the mid fifties the tension was high as Rancho Mirage stepped onto the field 50 minutes before kick off. Having only existed for four years, the Rattlers had strong intentions of bringing the victory home to their young school.

On the other hand, this was not the Knights’ first rodeo for the CIF Finals. Arroyo was dubbed the CIF Champions in 1986 and have qualified for the CIF playoffs every year since with the exception of two years ago. Under the leadership of head coach Jim Singiser and the exceptional performance of sophomore quarterback Ernesto Camacho (#15), the team was confident they had a chance to go all the way.

“I think this is the year to chase that ring,” expressed wide receiver Ben Le (#31).

Having stepped into the role of quarterback three games into the season, many were surprised at Singiser’s decision to place the young athlete into such a critical position. Regardless of how well he had been playing the fact still stood that this was only Camacho’s second season of playing tackle football in his entire life.

However, Camacho made it clear within the first few minutes of the game that he was the man for the job when his 24 yard pass to senior Yezdan Marquez (#24) put the first points of the night on the board. Junior Jesse Ortiz (#4) punted successfully for the extra point.

While the home crowd enjoyed the pride of scoring the first points, Rancho Mirage fought their way down the field into Knight territory. While the hopes of a touchdown were squashed as the Rattlers stared down the end zone on the fourth down with 31 yards to go, senior Daniel Whelan (#4) easily secured the three points for his team.

With four minutes to go, Arroyo’s offense worked their way back up the field from the 20 yard line. Despite Camacho’s best efforts, several passes were tipped or batted down resulting in a punt back to the Rattlers with less than a minute on the clock.

With seconds remaining, the Rattlers neared the halfway point, but a fumble at the 40 yard line was recovered by freshman Dylan Leonardis (#57), and the ball was back in the Knights’ possession. This closed out the first quarter.

The second quarter began seconds later and with momentum on their side, the Knights marched their way down the field. Once more Marquez received a 9 yard pass into the end zone and after another good field goal, the score was 14-3.

Rancho Mirage responded with enthusiasm as senior Kyle Whitefield (#8) plowed through defenders to make a 50 yard touchdown. Whelan brought the score closer at 14-10 as the home crowd quieted slightly.

The crowd experienced further anxiety after Rancho Mirage’s next possession brought the score within a point after Whelan successfully completed a 26 yard kick. Considering Whelan once made a 72 yard field goal during practice, the Rattlers did not have a reason to worry about their kicker.

Despite the dwindling clock and the tight score, Camacho rallied his team together and made his way into the end zone himself for a two yard touchdown, bringing the game to halftime.

At this point, the score was 21-13.

Rancho Mirage did not return to the field dominating and had to punt to the Knights. Arroyo seemed to experience the same slump and were forced to do the same. All hell broke loose, however, when a Rattler managed to get his hands on the ball before it was kicked and senior Mason Ferrer (#14) tumbled into the endzone for a defensive touchdown. Rancho Mirage’s kicker continued to impress as his celebrating team brought the score to 20-21.

The rattled Knights tried to come back from the turnover but could only manage three more points courtesy of consistent kicker Ortiz.

On a roll, the competition plowed their way through Arroyo’s defense, and the Knights struggled to make the easiest tackles. As a result, Whitefield secured a 9 yard touchdown and, for the first time of the night, the Rattlers were in the lead 27-24.

Arroyo could not regain their rhythm, and Camacho even threw an interception seconds before the end of the third quarter. The once cheerful home crowd waited fearfully for the end.

A glimmer of hope resurfaced after Arroyo recovered a fumble from their opponents and Ortiz got the chance to tie the game, but with ten minutes left on the clock, anything could have happen.

Surprisingly, and to the obvious relief of the Knights, neither team scored, and the game was sent into overtime. The rules were similar to college football; each team had the chance to score until one could not execute.

The Knights entered overtime on defense, and everyone was on the edge of their seats as Whitefield completely blew past Arroyo’s defenders for a 25 yard touchdown on their first play. Now, the Knights had only one option: score a touchdown.

As Camacho moved his team little by little towards the end zone, it was unimaginable what was going through his head. After the Knights failed to cross into the end zone on second down, Camacho ducked in behind his front line to capture that necessary touchdown.

Arroyo’s kicking team began to run onto the field for the extra point and the start of a second overtime but was promptly called back by Singiser. With all eyes on him, Singiser made the decision to go for a two-point conversion while his team still had their momentum.

As both teams lined up for the play that would determine it all, all breaths were held. The whistle was blown, the ball was passed, and senior Devin Knight (#2) clutched desperately to the football. The catch was complete.

Tears of joy and tears of despair were shed as the home crowd went insane. The boys had done it. Arroyo was officially the home of the champions once again.