The 2019 Wilson football season has been full of historic story lines, but the Bruins were on the wrong side of a historic story on Friday night in the CIF Southern Section Division 7 quarterfinals.
West Ranch is in the same district as Saugus High, where a school shooting rocked the city this week. The entire school district came out to support West Ranch at Valencia High yesterday, and the Wildcats rode their raw emotion to a thrilling 57-56 win over Wilson.
“It was a highly emotional game and they obviously had some extra people on their side this week,” Wilson coach Mark Ziegenhagen said.
Wilson (10-2) led 28-7 in the first half but West Ranch (10-2) figured out how to beat the Bruins defense just before halftime, and they chipped away until taking the lead with under two minutes left to play.
Senior quarterback Ryan Pettway completed 27 of his 35 pass attempts for 518 yards and four touchdowns for Wilson. West Ranch junior quarterback Walker Eget threw for seven touchdowns and 356 yards while completing 27 of his 41 attempts.
“We just kind of broke a little bit in the second half and our young secondary got a little exposed,” Ziegenhagen said. “But they’ll be back next year and they’ll all have something to prove.”
Wilson took an early lead thanks to its strong rushing attack and three touchdowns in the first half from running back Dillon Harris. The senior finished with 157 yards on 21 carries.
West Ranch got back into the game by letting Eget off of the leash. His favorite targets Nicholas Kohl and Zachary Van Bennekum both had multiple touchdown catches, and Jackson Reyes’ 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter kept the Wildcats within striking distance.
Pettway continued to feed receiver Michael Bruner to the tune of four touchdowns, and three of them came in the fourth quarter. The junior scored on three plays over 40 yards, and his 46-yard catch and run through traffic gave Wilson a 56-49 lead with 2:30 to play.
Eget led West Ranch right back down the field and found Kohl for the score and game-winning 2-point conversion in front of a raucous crowd chanting “Saugus Strong”.
Pettway got Wilson down into the red zone in the final seconds, but a possible game-winning field goal went wide.
“It’s really disappointing,” Ziegenhagen said. “That’s a game we should’ve won and we should’ve been able to go a little further. But I’m proud of the guys and the way they battled. I can’t say enough about the coaching staff and the dedication and backing we got from the school. The home games and everything… it was quite a season to remember for sure.”