Rene Maldanado is all smiles after the win over Calabasas.

2001 Frontier League Champions!

November 07, 2001
The Santa Paula High School Cardinal Football Team (5-4, 3-0) can be proud of its’ accomplishments this season after coming from behind to beat Calabasas (2-7, 1-2) Friday night and winning the Frontier League Championship for the first time in 11 years. Head Coach Ed Gomez saidx they knew Calabasas wasn't going to roll over for them. "Our practice was disrupted all week," Gomez said. "With the overwatering on Monday and the rain on Tuesday we didn't have a dry field to pracrice on until Friday." Gomez added that injuries caused some players to play out of position. "We had a million excuses to lose the game, but we had only one reason to win be league champs. I'm extremely proud of this team. Not only are they the first league champions in 11 years, but every single one of them finished the first semester with a least a 2.0 GPA, two things that have not been done for many, many years."Quarterback David Maldanado, a senior, was overwhelmed with the victory, as he joined his teammates, coaches and fans on the field after the win. “I believed in the team,” he said. “I knew we had the confidence. I told the line to give me more time and I’d make something happen.”Wide receiver Brent Peterson had to leave the game because of a leg injury. He was ecstatic with the outcome. “I had total faith in the team,” Peterson said. “This is the best group of guys...this is the best day in the world.”Calabasas scored first, on their first possession. It was their third play when the Coyotes’ quarterback through for a 49-yard TD. They got the extra point and led, 7-0.The Cards came right back on their next possession with Brent Peterson, Robert Scott and David Carrillo moving the ball into range of the Calabasas goal line. Scott took a handoff 60 yards to the Coyotes’ 10-yard-line. Peterson finished the job with a touchdown. The extra point attempt failed.Neither side scored again in the first quarter, but Calabasas came back in the second with two quick TD’s and a total of three extra points.Midway into the quarter the Cardinals’ Mark Moreno returned the Calabasas kickoff to the 18-yard-line. Peck Jimenez and Rene Maldanado moved the ball even closer and quarterback David Maldanado carried it into the end zone for a TD.Half time came with Calabasas leading 21-12. Coach Gomez said the team played a bit tentative in the first half. "At half time I told them that they would remember the next 24 minutes for the rest of their lives," Gomez said. "I said they may as well go out and make it a positive memory. They responded and went out and played like the champions they are. Defensively we shut them out in the second half. The defense rose to the occasion with a tremendous fourth quarter goal line stand, (AKA, THE STAND) then the offense went on a 95-yard game winning, title clinching drive. (AKA, THE DRIVE)"
The Cards changed their game plan during the half break. The Coyotes had figured out the offense, which was the same strategy used against Nordhoff, so the Cards came back on the field with a new plan.After stopping Calabasas in four plays, the Cards’ David Maldanado took the ball to within inches of the goal line. One more play and it was another TD for Santa Paula, plus the extra point, putting them within three points of the Coyotes.Try as they may, Calabasas couldn’t make any headway against the Cardinal defense for the remainder of the game. And, despite some costly penalties against the Cards, the Coyotes didn’t score again.The game was down to less than one minute of play, with Calabasas still leading, when Maldanado hit John Wadkowski with a short pass in the end zone, giving the Cards the win.Gomez had high praise for several of his players. "David Maldanado showed poise beyond his years," he said. "John Wadkowski and Rene Maldanado each made clutch catches on THE DRIVE. The offensive line provided great protection and sophomore Ron Harmon did a great job snapping the ball in our shotgun offense."Santa Paula plays Montclair Prep this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at Valley College. The playoffs will begin at home against an opponent to be named October 11.

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