Prep Impressions: Week 12

I covered the Rancho Cucamonga-Norco CIF-Southern Section Inland Division quarterfinal round playoff football game on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, for The Press-Enterprise and HSGametime.com, and came away thinking Norco was lucky to get away with a victory.

Norco (9-3 overall) led 20-7 lead in the fourth quarter and squandered it, allowing Rancho Cucamonga two score twice and take a one-point lead.

If not for Rancho Cucamonga’s exhausted defense — and a healthy dose of blossoming sophomore QB Victor Viramontes — Norco would not have advanced into field-goal range on their final drive, and Wes Koerber likely would not have made the kick if it was much longer than just 19 yards.

Why? The winds were very strong, gusting off the San Bernardino mountains at anywhere between 30-45 mph. Koerber’s got a good leg but the winds were devilish.

Norco may not have even gotten so close if not for Viramontes, who ran and passed for big gains and first downs on the drive, which was needed because RB Cory Young suffered from cramps late in the game and was rendered ineffective.

Also, consider any game decided by a kick inside the final minute — in this case 25.8 seconds — to be a game decided by luck.

Rancho Cucamonga coach Nick Baiz:
“Norco’s a good team. No. 10 (Viramontes) is a heck of a player. I think we messed up in the first half. Our kids fought hard the whole time. We played good teams. We played playoff teams at the end. I’m proud of our guys. 10-2 is something to be proud of. They kept our tradition alive of winning a lot of games. If it wasn’t so windy I think we’d have a better chance. It kind of effected our passing game a lot. Even on a kickoff — we tried to kick and the wind would knock it down — wind play a big factor in the kicking game. It is what it is. Both teams had to deal with it but I don’t think they planned to throw it as much as we planned to throw it.the They’re a heck of a defensive front. They’re extremely big and physical and we wanted to throw the ball tonight. The weather kind of took that away from us.”

Norco coach Larry Baker:
“The kids did a great job, they executed, Coach Chastain did a good job of making the calls and the kids just execute what we do. We got into some spots where it didn’t work out and they managed out of it so I’m proud of them. The kids came back and really did a great job tonight. I felt we were in the right position to kick that field goal and Wes Koerber came through and did a nice job. The kids really wanted to come out here and test themselves against a very good team to see how far they’ve come this year. Rancho Cucamonga has such a great defense, they really do a great job with those kids and they take things away. They took away a lot of the stuff that we do and made us do other things.”

Norco sophomore QB Victor Viramontes:
“Overall, I believe we had to work as a team. I wanted to get it done. It was a team effort and we just have to keep moving forward and keep working hard. There’s some payback (against Rancho Cucamonga). The coaches have been talking about it — much respect to both teams — but we wanted it, they wanted it and we just kept working.”

Norco senior K Wes Koerber:
“It’s exciting. I’m kind of speechless.”

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