CERRITOS-This one is going to sting for a while. As evident by all of the faces of disbelief and red faces on Harbor City Narbonne’s sideline after the Gauchos’ 41-34 loss to Centennial High of Corona at Cerritos College in the state regional playoff game, this defeat was a bitter pill to swallow. There would be no celebration as members of the Narbonne football team thought it would be.
Instead, what you heard was a gush of silence making its way over the stadium after Narbonne rallied back from an early 20-0 deficit to tie the game with a little more than a minute left in regulation only to see their state championship appearance go up in a cloud of dust.
This was not a fitting end to what seemed to be a perfect season for Narbonne and its highly regarded quarterback Troy Williams. Through the first 14 games of the season, Narbonne had brushed back all comers and dismissed all challengers on its way to an undefeated season. The Gauchos were on top of the world after they went out and shutout a powerful Crenshaw High School team to claim the CIF Los Angeles City title.
Get by Corona Centennial and Narbonne would be walking into this Saturday’s CIF State Football Open Division championship game against Concord De La Salle. Narbonne fell just short of that goal. After going into halftime down 27-8, Narbonne, on the strength of Williams’ are and feet, finally showed why they were the top-ranked team in the state of California and the No.2 prep football squad in the nation. But the rally was too little, too late.
Narbonne, perhaps, became a victim of its own success. The Gauchos’ highly regarded defense disappeared and surrendered nearly 400 yards-in the first half-to Corona Centennial, while Narbonne’s high-octane offense mustard a lot of punts and looked ineffective. That changed in the second half as Williams showed off his All-American stature, accounting for most of his 467 yards and four touchdowns in total offense.
It was a much different Williams in the last two quarters compared to the first half where he seemed to be indecisive. Williams, who threw for 362 yards and three touchdowns through the air and ran for an additional 105 yards and another score, looked unstoppable during the final two periods of play. But for all of Williams’ late-game heroics, it wasn’t enough to bring his team all the way back to victory. The game’s final outcome was hard to digest for Williams.
“We came out a little bit slow, but we came back,” Williams said after the game. “We came after halftime and said we are not going out like this. We just played our game, and we almost pulled out the ‘W.’”
Despite the heartbreak defeat, Williams said he was grateful for the season he and his teammates had.
It’s a big disappointment. That was our goal,” Williams said after the game. “It was an incredible senior year for me and my team. Next is college.”