Championship weekend at the WCA Football Winner Circle League had a big game feel despite taking place on a Saturday afternoon in Chino. The Grind came into their season finale with a 4-1 record, fresh off their first loss against the loaded WCA all-star team the week before, a game they lost on the final play.
Taking on a talented SoCal team, the Grind found themselves trailing early before rallying to win it 21-14 in double overtime.
“This feels a whole lot better getting the W,” said Grind coach Rene Medina. “I’m so proud of these kids and the growth they’ve shown as people and players, and so proud of our coaches. Everyone out here was paying to do this–not getting paid, but paying so that the kids would have this opportunity. It was great to give our kids something to do and to look forward to, and their maturity through this whole thing has been unbelievable.”
The Grind finish the club season at 5-1 and will join the rest of the state in waiting for updated word from the California Department of Public Health. If high school football is allowed to resume in a sanctioned way, you’ll see the players on the team back at their schools. If CDPH continues to prohibit high school football, the Grind will compete in WCA’s March Madness season next month.
The Grind fell behind 7-0 on the first drive of the game but rallied as Shea Kuykendall hit Kyren Rachel for a 10-yard touchdown to tie it up in the second quarter. After that the Grind defense locked in, with Lamar Black and Donovan Poe punishing the SoCal quarterback, and DBs including Daylen Austin locking down to hold SoCal scoreless (including a fourth-down pass breakup by Austin).
The game ended up in overtime where SoCal scored first on fourth and goal to put the Grind down 14-7. Kuykendall connected with Rachel for the fifth time in the last four games to tie the game, also on fourth and goal. The Grind took a 21-14 lead as Kuykendall found Keyontae Lanier for a 10-yard touchdown on the next possession.
Then the Grind defense was able to hold SoCal scoreless on the next possession, with TJ Curtis intercepting a fourth down pass to end the game, and send the Long Beach kids sprinting onto the field in celebration.
“It was fun, it was a lot of fun,” said Rachel. “It’s just so good to get to play together and have fun like this. Everyone on our team did what they had to do this season.”