Jaylen Matthews, his entire San Gorgonio High team already having cleared the near-empty field at Phil Haley Stadium, must’ve heard the chants from the grandstand Friday night, Nov. 15.
Here’s what he might’ve heard.
“Keep your head up, Jaylen.”
“Way to go, Jaylen.”
“You made it work, Jaylen.”
It was hardly a way to end a season, especially in defense of a CIF Division 9 championship from 2018.
Mission Viejo Trabuco Hills thoroughly dominated the Spartans, 34-7, going so far as to run the game clock over the final nine minutes and four seconds.
Stuck at midfield, trying to sort it all out, starting to remove his gear, Matthews was asked to make sense of it all.
“Senior year … last game … it’s not over, not by a long shot.”
UC Davis might be his next stop.
“We expected them to be tough,” said Matthews. “They were disciplined. We knew they’d be.”
Not even a game-tying TD -- Seth Burbine’s third-and-9 pass for Damajae Mitchell, whose catch and scamper covered 65 yards -- looked all that impressive in the opening quarter.
The visitors hit San G hard with a mixture of rotating QBs -- Jaxon Smaler and Aidan Armstrong -- with a heads-up sophomore RB, Drew Barrett (19 carries, 112 yards, two TDs) and a pesky defense that sacked Burbine twice, intercepted him twice and knocked him out of the game for a series in the second half.
There was San G’s high-energy, opening third quarter drive that ended with an end zone interception when the Spartans were trying to cut the lead to 28-14. Jaheim Crawford’s 45-yard run got the ball inside the 10.
It didn’t seem to matter which QB -- Smaler or Armstrong -- took the snaps.
“His main read is our (middle) linebacker,” said Matthews. “We couldn’t penetrate toward that. He’d identify our linebacker and come that way.”
Barrett and Mason Fishel (18 carries, 60 yards), plus Armstrong’s heady run-or-pass -- mostly run -- options racked up 280 rushing yards alone. Smaler threw for 122 yards.
“We could’ve stopped it … if we’d have been disciplined.”
The game looked as if it would be Trabuco Hills’ running attack against San G’s track meet-style speed. “We all expected to be in this game,” said Matthews, who caught four passes for 57 yards.
Mitchell caught four passes for 121 yards.
“We expected to play better,” said Matthews.