Saugus loses in CIF first round to Millikan, 49-21

Saugus quarterback TJ Cataldi (2) hands off to Dario Sandoval (82) against Millikan High in the first half at College of the Canyons on Friday, 110422. Dan Watson/The Signal

Banged-up Centurions crash out of Southern Section playoffs 

The Saugus Centurions (8-3) lost in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs to the Millikan Rams (5-6), 49-21, putting an end to the Centurions’ season. 

Saugus began the game as well as it could have hoped, forcing a three-and-out on the Rams’ first possession after a sack on third down by senior Deohn Turner. The Centurions were helped again by a short punt and began their first drive on the Millikan 45, and just four plays later, Turner ran it in for a touchdown from 15 yards out. 

It was all Rams from that point on, as they scored 42 points in the first half while shutting out the Centurions the rest of the way. Saugus attempted a late comeback with junior Trent Johnson taking over at quarterback, but the deficit was simply too large to overcome. 

Saugus defenders Brandon Aragon (7) and Matthew Stirwalt (45) bring down Millikan High running back Jaden Hunt (13) at College of the Canyons on Friday, 110422. Dan Watson/The Signal

“There’s no breaks at all and, you know, when you turn the ball over three times, it’s tough to overcome that, but hey, you know what, these kids battled, competed every week,” Saugus head coach Jason Bornn said. “It was something. I mean, literally, every single week there was one issue or another, and we still came out, we still battled, we still competed. So I’m just proud of their efforts.” 

One big issue Bornn referred to was the controversy over the team’s usage of the “Thin Blue Line” flag as part of its pregame entrance. William S. Hart Union High School District Superintendent Mike Kuhlman had banned the players from running out onto the field with it in late September, which the players had been doing. Both the American flag and the school flag were with the team prior to the game. 

A Saugus player had brought the “Thin Blue Line” flag out onto the field prior to last week’s game against Golden Valley, again sparking the controversy. 

Saugus running back Deohn Turner (0) dives for a touchdown against Millikan High in the first quarter at College of the Canyons on Friday, 110422. Dan Watson/The Signal

Saugus seniors Jake Viger and Vinny Gallagher did not play in the game. Gallagher missed last week’s game against Golden Valley, while Viger left the game early with an injury. Bornn declined to comment as to why the two, both crucial to the Centurions on both sides of the ball, were not suited up. 

“I’m not going to talk about it. It is what it is,” Bornn said. 

The Rams didn’t look unsettled at all. They scored on three consecutive drives in the first quarter and then did the same in the second quarter. Millikan junior Myles Jackson threw for 221 yards and five touchdowns, adding 31 yards and a touchdown on the ground. 

Two of those touchdown passes went to junior Jordan Anderson, while two more went to junior Ryan Pellum. Senior Jaden Hunt had 127 yards and a touchdown on the ground. 

Anderson grabbed one interception, while senior Angelo Miranda had another. 

“You can’t turn the ball over to a good team,” Bornn said. “You know, if you do that, it’s really tough to overcome.” 

Johnson threw for 109 yards with an interception taking over for senior TJ Cataldi in the second half. Cataldi threw for 41 yards with an interception in the first half. Turner finished with just 31 yards rushing after picking up 27 on the first drive of the game. Senior Dario Sandoval acted as the main running back, rushing for 80 yards and a touchdown on the second play of the fourth quarter. Johnson ran in a touchdown from a yard out with just over a minute left in the game. 

Saugus wide receiver AJ Goodman (21) catches a short pass and runs for a first down against Millikan High in the first quarter at College of the Canyons on Friday, 110422. Dan Watson/The Signal

Bornn looks forward to seeing what Johnson can do as the team’s quarterback next season after watching him perform admirably against a tough Millikan defense. 

“He came in and he did an outstanding job. We’re proud of him,” Bornn said. 

Saugus senior AJ Goodman had three catches for 52 yards. Senior Preston Allman added four catches for 35 yards. 

It’s a rough ending for Saugus, and especially the seniors, who have given so much to the Saugus football program on the back of the Nov. 14, 2019, shooting at the school when they were freshmen. The Centurions won the Foothill League title in the two following seasons before missing out on a third this season to West Ranch. 

Saugus defender AJ Goodman (21) comes close to blocking a Millikan High extra point in the second quarter at College of the Canyons on Friday, 110422. Dan Watson/The Signal

“I’m just proud of them,” Bornn said. “There’s very few four-year players in school that have had to deal with what they’ve had to deal with. So for them to be able to continue to play and stick it out and play for each other, it’s just a testament to their love for each other.” 

Millikan will now face Cypress (11-0) in the next round.

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