With a capacity crowd behind them and all of the positive momentum on their side, Compton looked poised to lift its first CIF Southern Section football championship plaque for the first time since 1979 on Saturday night at Compton College.
Unfortunately, everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Compton in a 43-8 lost to visiting Quartz Hill in the Division 12 championship game.
“When I look up and see 43-8, it doesn’t sit well with me because I don’t think that team is 43 points better than us,” Compton coach Calvin Bryant said. “But they are because they did it, so hats off to them and what they’ve done. Coach Vondra did a great job and they’re CIF champions.”
Both teams scored early touchdowns, and it looked like the game was going to be a shootout, but the Quartz Hill defense made the necessary adjustments to slow down the Compton rushing attack for the rest of the game. The visitors also took advantage of three consecutive Compton fumbles in the third quarter and turned them all into touchdowns. There was a running clock in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t play our best,” Bryant said. “We didn’t play like the Compton team we’ve played like the last few games and we turned the ball over too many times to be able to stay in the game and they didn’t. They didn’t turn the ball over.”
“We didn’t want to get the runner-up trophy,” Compton senior Aava Lilomaiava said. “We wanted to get the championship trophy and I feel like we left it all on the field and this was the outcome. It is what it is and hopefully we can have an opportunity to come back next year and like I said we just fought our hearts out tonight.”
The crowd at Compton College was a sell out with loud fans from both sides creating a unforgettable atmosphere. Even a large group of former players filled the Compton sideline to support their home team.
“Just this atmosphere of being in the championship game, is a blessing and I’m happy to be here and I can’t take anything back,” Lilomaiava said.
“Thanks, thanks for the support, thanks for coming out,” Bryant said to the gathered Compton supporters. “We love you, we’re going to try and represent the city well in the future.”
Quartz Hill took the opening kickoff into Compton territory, and then quarterback Chalin Crawford found receiver Nicholas Williams for a 23-yard touchdown and an early lead. Crawford completed 10 of his 15 pass attempts for 101 yards. Williams had four catches for a team-high 67 yards.
Compton responded very quickly as Dion Johnson took his first carry of the night 80 yards for the touchdown, and then Erick Barrios tacked on the two-point conversion to tie it up less than three minutes into the game.
While the Quartz Hill defense made the necessary adjustments to limit the big run plays by Compton, the visitors scored twice in the second quarter. Crawford gave his team a 16-8 lead when he turned a 4th & 15 play into a 26-yard touchdown run. Running back Ashtin Dupleasis capped the first-half scoring with a 35-yard touchdown run to give Quartz Hill a 23-8 halftime lead.
“The quarterback and running back were really very active and they made some great plays and they were the guys that really carried the team,” Bryant said. “I thought the quarterback was really dynamic tonight. He made some great plays and we weren’t tackling well. All of those things in a nutshell didn’t look like Compton.”
Compton looked like it was ready to get back on the scoreboard on its first three drives of the second half, but they all ended with a fumble in the backfield.
“I was like all we get one touchdown and we’re right back into the game,” Bryant said. “All we had to do in the second half and score one touchdown and we just couldn’t get that touchdown. Our guys were upset in that second half, but I felt like we could rebound and get that touchdown, we just never got it.”
Meanwhile, Crawford and Dupleasis combined to score three more touchdowns in the second half to put the game away.
Bryant was visibly emotional after the game but tried to put things in perspective.
“Our guys overcame a lot,” Bryant said. “It’s just bittersweet you know. You overcome everything and you want to finish the deal, we just didn’t. But like I said I got relax a little bit and try to sleep and relax and try to see what we got to do next year and see how we can make it back to this situation.”