By Dan Gudino
The football team takes over first place in the American Metro Conference with a 56-22 blowout victory on the road last Saturday against El Camino College-Compton Center.
East Los Angeles College, now 4-2 in the season, knew first place was at stake.
Pasadena City College lost to West Los Angeles College earlier in the day, giving the Huskies the opportunity to capture first place for the first time in five seasons.
At the beginning of the season, the conversation for ELAC was about turning the program into a positive direction. Now the talk on the field is a conference championship.
Compton, still winless (0-6), fought valiantly. The Compton defense created back-to-back interceptions on consecutive passes from ELAC’s sophomore quarterback Jonathan Santos in the second quarter.
The first was a pick-six (interception for TD) scored by Compton’s freshman linebacker Titus Heath, who was standing in the right place after the ball was tipped in the air.
Heath plucked the ball in midair and took it in for a 22-yard touchdown.
Santos’ next pass was intercepted and taken to the one-yard line at the end of the second quarter. This gave Compton prime field position, which was later converted for a one-yard TD pass, making a 14-13 Husky halftime lead.
“We’ll live with the mistakes and ride with Santos to the end, because he’s a good leader. He’s got guts and has the ear of our team,” ELAC head coach Bobby Godinez said.
The connection between Santos and his sophomore tight end CeeJhay French-Love is a go-to play. ELAC’s remaining opponents will know Santos relies on his big target.
For the third straight week, Santos found French-Love in the end zone on consecutive possessions. Santos linked up with him for the first two Husky TDs from five and nine yards out, both in the first quarter.
The Huskies took control in the second half and closed the game out in the fourth quarter with three straight unanswered TDs.
“We’re starting to gel as a team. We’re starting to understand how good we are and we’re learning. We can’t panic,” Godinez said.
Freshman special teams player Brandon Peterson and freshman defensive lineman Sione Vea blocked punts just like last week, both leading to ELAC TDs.
Before the game, Godinez said it would be the coming out game for Vea. Godinez was right, Vea, from Honolulu, Hawaii (Kalani High School), had his best game of the season. Vea constantly disrupted the Compton quarterback, finishing with three tackles, one being a sack.
Vea’s punt block was recovered by freshman linebacker Daniel Belton who returned the block for a 10-yard TD in the fourth quarter to give ELAC a comfortable 42-22 lead.
ELAC’s sophomore cornerback Cinwon Whitehead continues to cause trouble for opposing quarterbacks.
In the third quarter, Whitehead stopped a Compton TD.
He ran stride-for-stride down the sideline with a Compton receiver, his back facing a high-flying ball, and turned his head in time for the pass to fall into his hands for a basket-style catch in the end zone.
Whitehead has been a shutdown cornerback, looking calm and comfortable in action. His technique is sparking interest from the University of Colorado as well as other schools.
Whitehead was not done. The play of the game came in the fourth quarter as he jumped in front of a Compton receiver, caught the ball, and displayed an impressive burst of speed down the sideline as he went untouched for a 48-yard touchdown.
“It was an awesome feeling getting the pick-six. That’s how we play ball. If you play nervous, bad things usually happen. When you’re calm and work the technique, good things will happen,” Whitehead said.
Compton will now finish with its 16th losing season in 21 years. Compton is known for its 54-game losing streak that was snapped last season. ELAC’s offensive coordinator Art Hoomiritana was part of the Compton program last year, serving as its offensive coordinator.
“This was not a game I circled on my calendar. Compton gave me my first shot. (Compton head) coach (Broderick) Jackson gave me a shot. Every coach works as hard as he could. It’s just super tough here (at Compton) trying to keep players, for a lot of reasons, but they do the best they can. Despite their record, they gave us fits,” Hoomiritana said.
Arguably one of the worst team in California, Compton’s Jackson said it was not a good time to comment and did not speak to Campus News.
ELAC will be back home this Saturday against Los Angeles Southwest College (0-5) at 6 p.m.