VALENCIA >> When Saugus High quarterback Colton Fitzgerald looks back on his senior season, he’ll certainly think about the endless Zoom calls, virtual workouts and COVID-19 testing. But the fondest memories will be the two consecutive plays he made Friday night.
Two plays that will live in Saugus football lore after the Centurions topped Valencia 21-7 to win their first outright Foothill League title since 2008. The victory ends Valencia’s 11-year league winning streak.
Saugus and Valencia shared the Foothill League title in 2011.
Hanging onto a one-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter, Fitzgerald evaded tacklers that seemingly were hanging off his 6-foot-3 frame before scrambling to convert a 3rd and long. The next play, he picked up a low snap off the grass, looked to his right and gunned a pass to Dario Sandoval for a touchdown that put Saugus up 21-7 with 5:11 to play.
“I knew that drive was going to swing the moment, it was huge for us,” Fitzgerald said. “To drive down the field and take that much time off the clock … huge.”
Fitzgerald threw for 170 yards and three touchdowns on 17 of 25 yards passing. Running backs Vinny Gallagher and Jake Viger were a tandem in the backfield that kept the Saugus offense balanced.
Fitzgerald throw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Khai Ky-yeith to break a 7-7 tie with 10:47 left in the fourth. Valencia fumbled on the ensuing possession, which set up Fitzgerald’s heroic drive that ended with his third touchdown toss. He was emotional after the game.
“Coach Jason Bornn didn’t give up on us one time during COVID,” said Fitzgerald. “We all thought the Zoom workouts were pointless, turns out we’re Foothill League champs now because of it.”
Valencia coach Larry Muir was gracious in defeat. He knows a lot about winning league championships.
“It’s great,” Muir said. “Just a couple months ago, I didn’t think we were going to have a season. Everyone is a winner who played this spring, in my eyes. … Saugus did a great job and beat us. Their kids played well and tough.”
Valencia’s offense struggled at times. Junior quarterback Tyler Voss completed just one pass in the first half Friday night. Viger and Gallagher, who also played linebacker, were stout defensively and pressured Voss the entire night.
The Vikings’ only score came in the first half on sophomore running back Daniel Hernandez’s 17-yard touchdown run. It came after Fitzgerald connected with Hunter Girch on a 40-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. The halftime score was 7-7.
“All that we had to go through this year, I wouldn’t take any of it back for this moment,” Girch said.