By: Anthony Lopez, The Plaid Sports Editor
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to that time of year. The Highlanders are headed to the playoffs. After defeating Los Osos 63 to 0 Friday night, the Highlanders secured their spot in the 2016 CIF-SS Division 1 Playoffs. Upland will be playing away at St. John Bosco on Friday, November 11, at 7:00pm. The Round 1 playoff game will be held at Cerritos College in Norwalk.
The Highlanders locked themselves into this year’s playoffs by defeating Los Osos on Friday night. The win was a blowout victory and added to the long, bad season Los Osos has had. Although it was a horrible night for Los Osos, the night was full of highlights made by the Highlanders.
The night started off with Upland celebrating its annual “Senior Night.” Every senior on the football team, UHS cheer, and all of the senior athletic trainers were announced onto the field by their names and were presented with family and friends. The annual ceremony is a nice way to acknowledge some of Upland’s hardest-working athletes, who are in their last year of education at UHS.
On the very first snap of the night, events immediately went the Highlanders’ way. Los Osos fumbled the ball on the first play of the game, and Jordan Davis recovered the ball to give the Highlanders their first possession of the game. The fumble recovery immediately led to a Highlander touchdown, as Cameron Davis ran into the endzone, from 20 yards out, to give Upland the early seven to zero lead.
Just two and a half minutes later, Upland scored another touchdown thanks to Artis Seymore taking it to the house, by running 25 yards, to put the Highlanders up 14 to zero. Then, another score, made by David Baldwin passing it to Matthew Munoz a few minutes later, had the Highlanders up 21 to 0, in just under six minutes into the game.
What happened next was the obvious highlight of the entire night. Senior Gary Theard scored a 74-yard punt-return touchdown, adding to his already long highlight reel, which he has accumulated over his football career. Theard, who looked as if he should have been tackled multiple times on the return, amazingly zigged and zagged through the Los Osos’ special teams and scored. Upland was now up 28 to nothing, halfway through the first quarter. When asked about the punt return, Theard said, “Before the punt return, I prayed real quick and then as I was returning, I knew it was potentially my last home game, so I was focussed on scoring,”
Kyle Jones then went on to score another touchdown for the Highlanders, a few minutes later in the first.
Los Osos did not make a first down, until two minutes to go in the first quarter. However, it was short-lived, as they had to punt the ball away. At the end of the first quarter, Upland had 35 points and Los Osos wasn’t even on the board.
During the second quarter, Upland scored two more touchdowns and continued its dominance. At this point, the winner was already clear. Heading into the locker rooms for halftime, the Highlanders had a 49 to 0 lead.
A minute into the third quarter, running back Kyle Jones scored his second touchdown of the night, as he ran it into the endzone, increasing the Highlanders lead to 56 points.
The final score of the night came with 7:36 left in the fourth and final quarter, as Tyevin Ford ran it into the end zone for his first touchdown of the night.
After the dust settled, the final score from Highlander Stadium was a whopping 63 to nothing. The Highlanders scored their sixth victory of the season, and third victory, within the Baseline league schedule.
The Highlanders now move onto Division 1 playoffs, something the team has not been in before, as Upland was previously in division three. Upland finished the regular season (6-4), which means the Highlanders did not get a very high seeding in the playoff rankings. As a result, Upland will now play St. John Bosco this Friday night, for round one. In case you have never heard of St. John Bosco, they are an unbelievably good team. They’re Mater Dei, sized down a teeny bit. Although the odds are stacked against Upland, the team has an abundance of confidence. Asked about the expectations for playoffs, senior Gary Theard said that he hoped, “To compete and play our branch of football.”
Only time will tell how far the Highlanders can go in this years playoffs but one thing is for sure; making the playoffs this season is an accomplishment in itself. A season filled with adversity, growing pains, costly injuries, crushing losses. . . and now, the Highlanders have got the chance they need to turn the season around. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a solid season. However, with the odds stacked against them and everyone watching, Upland has a chance to be great again. We’ll find out Friday night.