By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
For The Signal
The Simi Valley Pioneers football team (4-0) handed the Saugus Centurions (3-1) their first loss of the season, 21-10, in a non-league battle between two great defenses.
After a tight first half, Saugus’ defense built up unbelievable momentum that just couldn’t be cashed in on by the offense. In the end, it would be three second-half interceptions (two in the end zone) by Centurion quarterback Sebastian Dallaire that would be too much of a setback to overcome.
The Pioneers’ opening drive marched straight to the end zone through the short pass game and a Jaelon Barbarin 4-yard rush would cap the drive off with a touchdown.
Saugus’ defense was unmatched after that drive through the third quarter. The unit forced one three and out after another and it didn’t look like Simi would score again.
“I feel like we really had this game,” said Saugus running back Jacob Favaro. “The picks were tough but our defense held their own as they’ve been doing all season.”
Dallaire was on the money throughout the first half and early third quarter. Dallaire tossed his first touchdown in the third to wide receiver Khai Ky-Yeith for a 26-yard dime to take to a 10-7 lead.
Simi quarterback Travis Throckmorton was quiet most of the game. The short passing game worked wonders while Saugus held the run game in check early.
Pioneer running back Caleb Alvary, who usually tears apart defenses, couldn’t break free off the line in the first half. Once the sophomore received each handoff, he wouldn’t get far without a swarm of Centurion jerseys. However, after Dallaire’s second interception, the defense and momentum folded. Alvary immediately exploded for a 49-yard rushing touchdown to make it 14-10.
After taking the lead and all the momentum away, Simi’s defense surged, sacking Dallaire and forcing his third interception of the game.
The Pioneers’ short pass game and run game clicked again for the first time since their opening drive of the game and a Throckmorton rushing score would end any Saugus hopes.
Saugus head coach Jason Bornn is still set on a fantastic 2021 campaign but acknowledged the challenges of the new season coming out of the pandemic.
“I don’t think people really understand what we as coaches and players are dealing with,” said Bornn. “With COVID, quarantine and people testing positive, it’s just been an outright challenge every single day. You just don’t know who’s gonna be at practice and who’s not.”
Saugus lost its bid at an undefeated finish but the Centurions still hold their heads high.
“I’m not too worried about this loss,” said Favaro. “There’s still a whole season ahead of us.”