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November 6, 2012 > Newark Memorial crowned 2012 MVAL Football Champs

Newark Memorial crowned 2012 MVAL Football Champs

By Nick Zambrano
Photos By Mike Heightchew

Once their collective cleats hit the turf at Tak Fudenna Stadium Friday night [October 2], there was no stopping the Newark Memorial Cougars football team. En route to the 2012 Mission Valley Athletic League (MVAL) title, they dismantled the upstart John F. Kennedy Titans, 42-13. It's Newark's first outright MVAL title since 1983.

And it would take all of one half for the Cougars to put this one away. On their first possession, the Cougars (8-2, 6-0) opted to air the ball out with senior quarterback Riley Pivin. With 8:48 in the first quarter, Pivin connected on a 10-yard pass to junior Fred Tidwell.

Prior to this game, the Titans (4-6, 3-3) rode a three-game winning streak in which their offense averaged 31.6 points per contest. It would be a task that the Newark defense would accept with open arms.

In a third and eight situation, Titans quarterback Justin Staley attempted an air strike but was intercepted by Newark defensive back Robert Ramirez. It would be the first of four turnovers committed by the Kennedy offense. In turn, this would lead to a Mark Morton touchdown and a 14-0 lead for Newark.

Still in the first quarter, the Newark defense continued to come up big. This time it was junior Damien Banford, who stripped the ball from JFK running back Joel Romero and returned the fumble 41 yards for a touchdown. It was now 21-0 in favor of the Cougars.

"I think we were very versatile in what we were doing and the kids came out and played some very good defense. I'm proud of them," said Newark head coach Rich Swift.

Before the horn sounded for the end of the first quarter, Morton would punch in another touchdown, this one from nine yards out. At the end of one, it was all Newark, 28-0.

At the start of the second quarter, Kennedy finally found their way on to the board. Taking advantage of a Newark turnover, Staley hooked up with junior wide receiver Atu Ohuafi for a 60-yard touchdown through the air. The two would hook up again late in the fourth for another long strike of 60 yards but it was too late. Staley finished the game 8-17 with 147 yards passing while Ohuafi racked up two receptions for 120 yards.

Before it was all said and done, the Cougars would add two more scores with runs from Ramirez and Franco Napal to bring the game to the final score. Napal finished the game with 77 yards rushing, Morton was right behind him with 74 and Ramirez with 41.

Since winning the MVAL outright gives Newark an automatic berth into the North Coast Section Championship, they will play host to American High in the first round in the Division II bracket. Kennedy received an at large bid in the Division III bracket but will have to travel to play top seeded El Cerrito High. Both games are set for Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.

In other NCS news, MVAL schools, Irvington and Washington both collected at-large berths for the respective sections. Irvington will travel to James Logan High for a battle with the Colts, while Washington will play Las Lomas on Friday, Nov. 9. Both games will start at 7 p.m.

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