The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.
There was plenty of conversation about plenty of topics in the run-up to Millikan’s CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoff opener at Saugus, Friday evening. The Centurions’ best player was sidelined for the game for running a Thin Blue Line flag onto the field the week prior, in violation of team and Hart School District rules, sparking a national controversy that put the football game in the middle of America’s ongoing culture wars. But once the game kicked off at College of the Canyons Friday evening, there was no controversy and no doubt—it was an absolute butt-kicking as the Rams won 49-21.
“I was honest with the kids about the situation but we also didn’t talk about it very much,” said Millikan coach Romeo Pellum. “I talked to the media about it, I talked to the Hart School District, I talked to Sherriffs up here, their coach called me—but I let the kids focus on the game. It was definitely a distraction—I had news reporters from TV DMing me in the locker room asking if I can come out and talk to them. We came up here to play a football game, and we won tonight.”
The Rams will host Cypress at DeHaven Stadium on campus next Friday in the Division 4 quarterfinals.
The biggest question coming into the game was Millikan’s defense and how they’d stand up on the road against a run-heavy team. The Rams answered the bell and then some. After falling behind 7-0, Millikan took the ball away on three straight possessions with fumble recoveries from Charlie Broughton and Craig Gordon and an interception by Jordan Anderson. The Rams scored touchdowns on offense after each of those turnovers as they scored 42 unanswered points to take a 42-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“We started slow, it took us a drive to get going,” said Pellum. “But once we got going, there was no stopping. We were literally clicking on every single thing, even special teams.”
Millikan started the game with the ball and went three-and-out, basically the only thing that went wrong for them in the first half. Saugus took a short punt and quickly marched down the field, scoring on a 15-yard run by Deohn Turner, who filled in at running back for the suspended Saugus player.
But the Rams answered, vociferously. First they got a one-yard keeper from QB Myles Jackson after a run-heavy drive that featured Jaden Hunt extensively. Then After recovering a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Jackson hit Ryan Pellum to give Millikan a lead they’d never relinquish, just a minute of gametime after they’d fallen behind 7-0.
Gordon recovered a fumble for the Rams’ defense on the next drive, and Hunt scored a 17-yard touchdown after that. Anderson’s interception ended the next Saugus drive, a beautiful high point grab. The Rams closed the half with two touchdown passes from Jackson to Anderson, and then Pellum ran in a short touchdown to make it 42-7 at halftime. The Rams had outgained Saugus 261 yards to 85 at the break.
The Centurions were able to score twice in the fourth quarter of the game with the clock running and Millikan’s backups in, and the Rams added a final score as Jackson found Pellum again for a 30 yard score in the third quarter.
After the game, Pellum said he was happy with how his defense played.
“They were relentless,” he said. “They played fast, they played physical, that’s what we talked about before the game. This was a great experience for everyone in our program that bus ride home is going to be a lot more fun than last year’s from Camarillo.”
It was indeed an impressive performance for the Rams, a year after a heartbreaking one-score loss in the first round of the Division 6 playoffs. This year, up two divisions higher, they got a running clock win on the road.
“We came out here with a money mentality, with money on our mind,” said Anderson. “We’ve been working hard all season to get ready for the playoffs and we came out here and dominated.”