After leading his team to a 17-16 victory against West Ranch, Nathan Eldridge stood on the sidelines crying.
The Centurions are now 7-0, something the team has never accomplished.
“It’s tears of joy,” the junior quarterback said. “I’m just proud of the team. The game didn’t go as planned, but we battled through adversity and we finished strong and that was the most important thing, that we were able to get the win.”
But West Ranch (4-3, 1-1 league) made a statement, beginning when it stormed onto the field before the game, carrying a bright yellow “Don’t tread on me” flag.
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Defense limited Eldridge to just 10 completions and forced him to resort to his ground abilities. He finished the game 10-for-20 with 95 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He rushed for 90 yards.
“Last year we weren’t even competitive in these league games and now we’ve won by one point (against Canyon) and lost one by one point,” said West Ranch coach Chris Varner. “Saugus played well. I’m proud of my boys. They battled, they gave me four quarters. That’s what I asked for.”
Above all, it was the Cents’ offensive strategies that earned them the win.
They used a double-wing offense to earn yardage and exhaust the Cats defense. In the third quarter, Saugus used that scheme to chip away on a 17-play drive that ended in a field goal.
The Centurion defense limited the Wildcats to just one offensive touchdown, a 4-yard run by Jake Rice (23 carries, 90 yards) in the third quarter. The other score was a 95-yard returned kick by Jovan Camacho.
An interception by Coleman Vanderhorst with 1:30 left in the game stood between West Ranch and a game-winning touchdown. The Cats couldn’t recover.
Although Saugus coach Jason Bornn couldn’t help but smile about the thought of his team’s perfect record, the focus remains on the final prize.
“It’s good for them. They get to be a part of something that’s never been done before,” Bornn said. “For us, it’s just a number. At the end of the day, we’re trying to be competitive for a Foothill League championship.”