By Matt Lechuga
For the Signal A week after a wild comeback for their first playoff win in school history against Silverado, West Ranch found themselves in a nearly identical situation Friday night against Oxnard at Valencia High School. Down 34-31 with 3:19 to play, the Wildcats needed a stop to give the offense one more chance at another miracle comeback. But a 10-yard scramble by Yellowjackets quarterback Vincent Walea followed by a 2-yard dive from running back Xavier Harris sealed the game and ended the best season in West Ranch program history in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 6 playoffs.
“We battled. We knew they were a solid team going in, and we had our chances, but we just came up a little short,” said West Ranch (9-3) head coach Chris Varner. “But I was really proud of their effort. I just love this team, and obviously we’re sad it ends tonight, but there’s nothing to be ashamed of.” The Wildcats kept the game close thanks in large part to the combined efforts of Ryan and Jovan Camacho. Neither left the field, and both made huge impacts on both sides of the ball. Ryan finished the night with two rushing touchdowns of three and two yards respectively, an 80-yard touchdown reception and two interceptions. Jovan finished with a 75-yard touchdown reception and an interception. “We’ve been working hard all season and to come this close and to fall this short is really disappointing to us,” said Ryan.
West Ranch held a 24-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter but saw it evaporate on a 41-yard touchdown run by Harris. A missed PAT kept the Wildcats within a field goal, down 27-24. But on West Ranch’s next drive, quarterback Weston Eget’s pass over the middle was tipped and picked off by Oxnard’s RJ Aranda who returned it 75-yards for the touchdown and a 34-24 lead. Eget finished the game with two TD passes and two interceptions. Ryan Camacho’s second rushing score brought the Wildcats back within a field goal before Oxnard (10-2) was able to run out the clock. “It took everything to win this game,” said Oxnard head coach Jon Mack. “That was a really good football team and that quarterback is very good. And those two Camacho twins, I’m happy I don’t have to see them again.” Coming into Friday’s game, Varner challenged his team, asking them how many pages they wanted to add to the West Ranch history book. While they may have failed to add any this time around, the Wildcats did set a school record with nine wins and earned their first playoff victory, accomplishments the Camacho brothers are proud of. “I’m happy, we had the best team in West Ranch history so that’s good for me,” said Ryan. Jovan added, “I know we definitely could have done more but I’m happy we got as far as we did and we’re able to say we’re one of the best teams to ever be here.”