By Justin Powell
For The Signal
From start to finish of Friday night’s clash between Oxnard and Saugus, one name in particular was routinely announced over the PA system of Cougar Stadium. The flash of a light blue No. 10 bursting through the Oxnard offensive line for a huge tackle for loss. Or bursting through the Oxnard defensive line for a short rushing touchdown.
Junior linebacker/running back Jacob Viger made plays in all three phases of the game, setting the physical tone needed to bring life to the Centurions.
Viger had four tackles for loss to go along with two rushing touchdowns. And, he pinned the Yellowjackets inside their own 10-yard line with a booming 45-yard punt in the first quarter when the game was still 0-0, and a field position battle ensuing.
“He’s a stud, one of many players on our team that are extremely physical, and passionate about playing the game,” said Saugus head coach Jason Bornn.
The Centurions started slow offensively, with a couple 3-and-outs on their first two drives. But the offense got the jolt it needed on the first play of the second quarter.
Facing a fourth and 13 from the Oxnard 30-yard line, Saugus quarterback Sebastian Dallaire broke contain to scramble 15 yards for the conversion. Viger would punch in the game’s first touchdown three plays later.
The Centurions started the second quarter with a big play, and ended the second quarter the same way. With just under two minutes to go in the first half, Dallaire connected with junior wideout Khai Ky-yieth, who shook his defender at the Saugus 40 and sprinted up the sideline for a 68-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
It would be the longest play of the game for either team, and much needed momentum as the Saugus defense came up with a big stop on their own 24-yard line as time expired in the half. The Centurions took a 14-6 lead into halftime.
The second half began much like the first, with sloppy play and three-and-outs from both teams, and Saugus still clinging to a 14-6 lead.
A bad personal foul penalty committed by the Saugus defense helped Oxnard drive into Centurion territory, when the strangest play of the game occurred. Facing a fourth and 13 on the 30-yard line, Yellowjackets quarterback Devin Tate heaved a pass to the right corner of the end zone, and Elijah Davis came down with the ball for the touchdown. Only officially though, as the ball hit the ground before he scooped it into his grasp, and the sideline referee unwittingly signaled for a touchdown.
“We saw the ball on the ground, saw it bounce, and so did everybody else,” said an exasperated Bornn. “It’s unfortunate that the officials made the decision to rule it a touchdown.
Just like that, the score was 14-12 with 2:29 left in the third quarter, but that was all the wake-up call the Centurions would need.
Saugus proceeded to score the final 21 points of the game, running away from Oxnard with the help of senior tailback Jacob Faraldo. Faraldo scored on back-to-back touches, the first on a nifty 25-yard run, and the second on a 28-yard punt return after the defense forced the Yellowjackets to punt from their own end zone. Viger would put the explanation point on the game with his second rushing touchdown with 5:37 to go in regulation, the Centurions going on to win by a final score of 35-12.
“We were trying to do that [get Faraldo the ball] in the first half, too, but we had to fix some things that were going wrong in terms of our offensive scheme up front,” said Bornn.
“Once we were able to clean that up and adjust it, we were able to free up Jacob. Obviously, his punt return was special.”
Saugus heads to Its bye week with a 4-1 record, and opens Foothill League play at Canyon on Oct. 1.