As the bus carrying the Taft High football team made its way to Fremont High for the City Championship semifinals, the Toreadors made an unscheduled pit stop.
The bus stopped in the parking lot of the Coliseum. Players were silent as they remembered where they had been; now they can think about where they are going.
Taft will play for the major-division championship for the third consecutive season after defeating Dorsey, 27-20, Friday night.
"We didn't say anything," defensive end Michael Adams said of the brief stopover. "We just sat there. But now we're going back."
The seventh-seeded Toreadors (11-2) will play Wilmington Banning on Friday night at the Coliseum in their quest to win their first football championship. Taft lost to the Pilots, 41-13, in the opening week of the season.
Friday's victory didn't come easily for Taft. The Toreadors held a 21-20 lead for most of the fourth quarter and didn't clinch the victory until Adams returned a fumble 36 yards for a touchdown with 32 seconds remaining.
Adams was the defensive star with three sacks and he stopped the Dons' two-point conversion attempt with eight minutes left.
Taft was in control for most of the game behind quarterback Brandon Hance. Hance broke off a 64-yard run in the first quarter and scored on a 26-yard run. He finished with 95 yards in 10 carries.
Hance also completed 11 of 19 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns, both to Lawrence Wallace.
"Brandon made some tremendous plays," Taft Coach Troy Starr said. "Those plays really gave us a lift."
Wallace finished with eight receptions for 159 yards and scored on receptions of 33 and six yards. The second score gave Taft a 21-6 lead midway through the third quarter.
But as rain began falling in the third quarter, the Dorsey running game took over.
Major Cobb scored on a 35-yard run and Nevin McGee added a two-point conversion to cut the lead to 20-14 late in the period.
Then Tashari Williams scored on a 10-yard run with eight minutes left to give Dorsey (9-3-1) a chance to take the lead.
But McGee was stopped by Adams and Brandon Walker at the one on the two-point conversion. Cobb finished with 119 yards in 13 carries. Taft's Marquis Brignac, who has rushed for more than 1,600 yards, was held to 54 in 15 carries.