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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Granada Hills Calls Audible, 17-7

Football: Highlanders, despite passing tradition, beat Royal at John Elway Stadium on strong defensive effort.

September 19, 1998|DAVID WHARTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GRANADA HILLS — The first game at John Elway Stadium was, well, not very John Elway-like.

On an evening dominated by defensive excellence and offensive miscues, Granada Hills High defeated Royal, 17-7, on Friday night at the field recently renamed to honor its most famous alumnus.

"Their defense played great," Royal quarterback Jonathan Palacios said. "They stopped our receivers at the line of scrimmage. They stuffed the run.

"There was nothing we could do about it."

Granada Hills (2-0) showed its defensive prowess last week, holding North Hollywood to 56 yards.

Royal fared only slightly better, gaining 110 yards.

From the start, Palacios had trouble finding his rhythm. The quarterback, whose father is a Granada Hills alumnus who played on teams with Elway, fumbled a snap on third down of the opening drive.

A few minutes later, Palacios turned to hand off to an empty backfield. Perhaps his best rusher, Steve Sheehan, who gained only 20 yards on 10 carries, was tired of getting stuffed.

Not that Granada Hills did much better.

Jason Winn completed only six of 19 passes for 83 yards. Omari Mack pounded out 49 yards on 15 carries.

So Granada Hills was forced to rely on quick strikes.

Midway through the second quarter, Tommy Garagliano faked a punt and threw 43 yards down the right sideline to a wide-open Peter Gunny. That play led to a 3-0 lead when Garagliano kicked a 28-yard field goal.

Then, on Royal's first possession of the second half, the Granada Hills defense forced Palacios to fumble. Linebacker Doug Baumwirtz scooped up the loose ball and ran 36 yards for a touchdown.

Finally, with four minutes left in the game, there was a spark of honest-to-goodness offense as Winn threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Gunny for a 17-0 lead.

"It felt really good to score my first touchdown in John Elway Stadium," Winn said.

Dustin Cruz came into the game to replace Palacios at quarterback for Royal (0-2) and completed two long passes in a row. He finished the drive with a five-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Krause.

But with the score 17-7, there would be no Elway-esque comeback.

Josh Brandon intercepted a pass by Cruz with under a minute remaining to seal the victory.

"Everybody thought we were the underdogs," defensive lineman Omar Gonzalez said. "But we showed them."

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