Rangers bury Lancers with Strong performance,
By Jesse Phelps
The Nordhoff Ranger varsity football
team got back on track in a big way on Friday night with an explosive
49-10 first round CIF Southern Section play-off victory over
the visiting La Salle Lancers.
After completing an undefeated league season, the Rangers lost
a close battle with Division V Arroyo Valley heading into the
postseason. That didn't stop them from rebounding in a big way
against a hapless Lancer team that finished third in its league
with a 3-7 record.
Will Strong, Clark Bigler and Josh Catlett once again carried
the offensive load for Nordhoff. Strong racked up 147 yards on
only 16 carries and a play-off career-high four touchdowns. Catlett
chipped in two scores, gaining 83 yards on just five carries,
including a 55-yard touchdown in the second quarterthat opened
up a 28-7 Ranger lead.
By then, Strong had already found the end zone three times. Just
three minutes into the game, Paul Chesser (five receptions for
121 yards) nabbed a 56-yard pass along the sidelines, dragging
three defenders to the Lancer 6.
"No. 21 just slipped and I got past him," said a modest
Chesser of the play, which set up Strong's first score, around
The Ranger defense allowed zero total yards in forcing La Salle
into two three-and-outs on its first two drives. Strong scored
his second touchdown of the opening quarter on Nordhoff's second
possession. Barreling through a huge gap in the middle of the
line, he scampered in from 8 yards out.
One play into the second quarter, it was Will Strong 21, La Salle
0. This time, it was a 3-yard rumble in coach Cliff Farrar's
three-back Jumbo package.
After a 17-yard, third-down touchdown catch by LaSalle's Chris
Knowles, it was Catlett's turn. It took just two plays for Catlett
to take the Rangers 71 yards and into the half with a 21-point
They would only increase it in the second, after conceding a
field goal on La Salle's opening possession. Strong scored for
the fourth time about halfway through the third quarter, going
off-tackle and up the gut for a 34-yard touchdown.
Casey and Josh Catlett led the defense as it forced another two
three-and-outs and Nordhoff got its sixth touchdown with just
over a minute gone in the fourth stanza when Bigler (11 carries
for 71 yards) literally flipped his way into the end zone for
the 42-10 lead.
Casey Catlett said he and his defensive teammates take it personally
when an opponent gains a first down. "Everyone played tonight,"
he said. "Everyone came out to win. It makes my job easier
when everyone plays."
Brother Josh finished off the scoring with an 8-yard run after
a Tyler Whitcomb fumble recovery late in the game.
Whitcomb's older brother, Ryan, once again looked sharp at the
controls of the offense, completing six of 11 passes for 128
yards - all but seven to Chesser. By the time the final horn
sounded, every Ranger in uniform had seen some action.
Nordhoff coach Cliff Farrar gave credit to his defense but admitted
the score could have been more lopsided still had the Rangers
not dropped three of four easy interceptions. He also said he'd
like to see improvement in his second offensive unit, which racked
up four consecutive penalties at one point late in the fourth
quarter. Still, despite the minor glitches, he said he was proud
of the effort of his team and their desire to be the best.
"It's agreat group of guys in terms of wanting to win,"
he said. "Last week we had a great game against Arroyo Valley.
I was very pleased with it but our kids were upset because they
Against La Salle, Farrar said, the play of lineman Micah Reed,
who opened up some huge holes for Strong, Catlett and Bigler,
was tremendous. "He's an outstanding player, he's an outstanding
leader. He just brings so many things to the table for us, the
intangibles of football. He's a fun guy to be around," said
This Ranger team, predicted to finish no better than third in
its league, now looks as if it might be around for a while. This
weekend it will travel to San Jacinto, which beat No. 4 Valley
Christian in its first round contest, 35-21.
Game time is 7:30 p.m. A win would set up a probable rematch
with league rival Oaks Christian, who the Rangers beat at home
in a nail-biter three weeks ago.
The Ojai Valley News
to the news
PAUL CHESSER CAUGHT a 56-yard reception that set up the Rangers'
first touchdown during Nordhoff's first round game against La
Salle in the CIF-SS Toyota Football Championships last Friday.