This week, all of The562’s coverage is sponsored by Long Beach Gives. Visit LongBeachGives.org to find your cause and support local nonprofits! Donations will be accepted through Sept. 21.
The562’s coverage of Cabrillo Athletics is sponsored by the Cohn Family.
The562’s coverage of Lakewood Athletics is sponsored by J.P. Crawford, Class of 2013.
The562’s coverage of girls’ flag football in 2023-24 is sponsored by the Los Angeles Chargers.
Cabrillo and Lakewood each had the opportunity to make school history on Tuesday afternoon. Both schools were in search of their first ever Moore League victory in girls’ flag football, and by the time the final buzzer sounded, they’d both accomplished that goal.
The visiting Jaguars earned a thrilling 13-12 win in game one of Tuesday’s doubleheader at John Ford Stadium, before Lakewood responded with a 13-0 shutout to win game two.
The opener came down to the very last play, with both teams scoring touchdowns in the final 1:06 of game time. Cabrillo took the lead for the first time when QB Cinthia Garcia hit Aliya Atkins for her second TD grab of the day, then added the extra point with a short throw to Carla Nares, making it 13-6 Jags.
But Lakewood came back down the other way in a hurry, and scored a TD of their own when Michea Wells laid out for a terrific catch on a deep ball from Dionna Bradley. That gave the Lancers a chance to win it with a two-point conversion, but Garcia came through with a clutch defensive play, knocking away the pass attempt at the last second to preserve the Cabrillo win.
Jags head coach Garrett Young was proud of his team’s comeback as they snagged a historic win on the road.
“We lost a couple close ones to Millikan and Wilson last week, so it’s good to continue to get better,” said Young. “I’m really proud of the girls and to get the first one, they’re excited and I’m excited for them … Us doing the girls flag football league and the first win at Cabrillo, all this stuff is historic and our girls are starting to understand that. Getting that first win was huge and getting it in that fashion is just icing on the cake.”
Lakewood took a 6-0 lead in the first half as Bradley tossed a five-yard TD pass to Alyssa Ray, who eluded tacklers along the goal line to give Lakewood a 6-0 lead.
The Lancers were stout defensively in the first 20 minutes, led by Kennedy Martz who hauled in an impressive three interceptions in the first half alone. Araya Banner also had a pair of sacks for the Lakewood defense.
Cabrillo came alive after halftime, however, and it was the senior Atkins who was the star. She made a number of crucial grabs in the second half, including a tying touchdown from QB Aariya Castejon with about nine minutes left to play.
On the Jags’ game-winning drive, Atkins caught consecutive passes along the Cabrillo sideline with the second one turning into the decisive score. She said she’s had a ton of fun with this new sport and was excited about getting a win with her team.
“It was shocking, I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I did that,” said an elated Atkins after the games. “I said we were gonna win that first game at least, I wasn’t going home with that loss, I’m not taking anymore losses … I'm still processing it because like, we really did win that! It feels amazing.”
In game two, Lakewood’s defense stepped up and made the difference, pitching a shutout to secure the split. Damiah Williams had an early interception to help set the tone, then the Lancers offense hit the scoreboard for a quick lead.
QB Ma’Ryah King threw a TD pass to Martz, who continued her impressive day with a receiving TD to go along with her defensive exploits. Martz would also add another interception in game two, giving her an impressive four interceptions on the afternoon.
“It was fun, you know, celebrating with my family and stuff, it feels good to win the game,” said Martz, who admitted she enjoys being on defense just a little more. “I like defense more, because if we're down I can get an interception and then we can get a touchdown, so that can kind of help us get back in the game.”
The Lakewood defense made sure that score would hold up as Cabrillo wasn’t able to threaten the end zone much in game two.
The Lancers eventually put the game away late as King caught a pass over the middle to get Lakewood into the red zone. Then she flipped from receiver to quarterback and tossed a short TD pass to Jaela Baker, giving Lakewood their 13-0 margin of victory.
“I expect nothing less from this team,” said Lancers head coach Leilani Utupo. “I feel that if we got out of our heads, we would be a winning team. I know that the girls are learning a lot, but for me that's no excuse, because my expectations for them are pretty high considering the caliber of athletes that we have … Hopefully that win brings the morale together. I also feel like we haven't quite meshed as a team yet. So once we get past all of the little hiccups I hope that we'll have some more wins under our belt.”
These teams will be back in Moore League action next Tuesday as Cabrillo visits Wilson and Lakewood travels to play Jordan.