Saugus knows stopping the big play key to playoff stay


It’s all perspective.

Saugus High football’s defense gave up 29 points in a CIF-Southern Section Division 6 first-round win over Crescenta Valley of La Crescenta last week.

Not a lockdown performance, but a solid showing considering the Falcons entered the game averaging 39 points a game.

If the Centurions are to advance to their first semifinal since 2013, they won’t have to play perfect defense on the road against Long Beach Wilson. But they will have to keep another explosive offense from making big plays.

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The key to tonight’s quarterfinal?

“We have to limit their big-play potential,” said Saugus coach Jason Bornn. “Every time they’re on offense, they have the ability to score.”

That starts with 5-foot-9, 170-pound running back Jacobi Hardy, who has rushed for 1,477 yards and 21 touchdowns this season. The senior has posted six games of more than 150 yards on the ground.

“He’s very explosive and elusive,” Bornn said. “He finds a crack of daylight and hits it hard and fast.”

Bruins quarterback Tanner Frost, a spindly 6-6, 180-pound senior, has completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,585 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Semaj Parker has led the way at receiver, hauling in 42 passes for 712 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Parker, though, will have to deal with an exceptional Saugus secondary.

Coleman Vanderhorst set a single-season program record earlier this year with seven interceptions.

Tahjeem Johnson-Rahmaan picked off a pass in last week’s 38-29 win over Crescenta Valley, giving Saugus its first playoff win since that 2013 run.

The Cents are certainly glad to be back.

“It’s a testament to the work the kids put in and the commitment made to the season,” Bornn said.

A win tonight would mean Saugus finally gets a home game in these playoffs, against either No. 1-seed Los Altos of Hacienda Heights (11-0) or Paramount (8-3) on Nov. 25.

Wilson beat Pomona, 49-14, on the road in the first round.

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