El Camino gets hyped before their West Valley League match-up against Birmingham. All photos courtesy of Ethan Cameron.
El Camino Real Charter

El Camino pulls off upset against Birmingham

El Camino shocked the Los Angeles City Section Friday night defeating the Birmingham Patriots by hitting a 22-yard field goal in a game that came down to the last remaining seconds.

It was a chilly Friday night on the campus of El Camino Real Charter High School, and it felt like football season. Both teams came into the matchup with two wins to start their West Valley League seasons and both had to put their undefeated league records on the line.

On El Camino’s initial drive, senior Giovany Navarro connected with senior Tyjai Fulford on a 40-yard touchdown pass to give the Conquistadors an early 7-0 lead but that was the only score of the first quarter as both defenses played well.

The Patriots were quick to bounce back and scored early in the second quarter tying the game up at seven a piece. A poor El Camino drive right before halftime ending in a fumble would set the Patriots up at the Conquistador 11 yard line. Birmingham would take advantage of this short field and score in two plays, taking the lead 14-7 going into the half.

El Camino would run all over the Patriots in the third quarter, and put together a 24-play, 6:03 minute drive to tie the game up at 14. All 24 of those plays came via the run, with a combination of Darrien Green and Giovanny Navarro, who ultimately scored from the one yard line to cap the drive.

After a quick defensive stop for the Conquistadors, the offense was back on the field in search of a score. Green and Navarro would once again carry El Camino down the field on a much quicker offensive series. El Camino scored on just six plays ending with a Navarro touchdown run and a senior Jake Amigo PAT, putting the Conquistadors up, 21-14.

But Birmingham was quick to respond, as the ensuing kickoff was returned 87 yards by Daishaun Hamblin and just like that the score was knotted up at 21 halfway through the fourth quarter.

Both defenses would stop the opposing offenses one last time until El Camino got the ball with four and a half minutes left on their own 18 yard line. The Conquistadors took 13 plays going 77 yards to set up a field goal with five seconds left and a chance to beat higher-ranked Birmingham.

“I didn’t feel nervous when going out on the field for the kick,” kicker Jake Amigo said, “Once I kicked it, it didn’t even go far until I knew it was good.”

All they needed was a perfect snap, a perfect hold, and a perfect kick by Jake Amigo to knock off the Birmingham Patriots. El Camino won by a final score of 24-21.

“[Birmingham] was talking a lot on twitter,” Amigo said. “It motivated us as a team.”

The win was the Conquistadors third in a row after starting the season 0-5 in a tough non-League schedule.

“The athletes all came together,” head coach Jeff Falgien said, “They found the glue amongst themselves, and played as a team on all sides of the ball.”

El Camino hosts Granada Hills Charter in a week-nine homecoming showdown and squares off against Taft the following week for their last game of the season on senior night. If all goes well, El Camino could very well end up being the West Valley League champions for the second consecutive year.

“We will continue to practice just has hard as we have for the previous opponents,” Falgien said, “We won’t take anyone for granted or [discount] anyone.”

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