Category Archives: La Habra Football
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Eric Barriere, La Habra, Senior
Eric Barriere walked on to La Habra High School four years ago as a virtual unknown.
He will leave arguably as one of the top players in the football team’s history.
Barriere, after leading the Highlanders to the program’s seventh divisional title is the Whittier Daily News Football Player of the Year.
“It makes me happy that people feel that way about me,” Barriere said of his legacy. “There have been a lot of great players in this program. I’m really honored to be compared to them.”
It was well-deserved this season. The senior earned Freeway player of the year honors after helping the Highlanders to a 13-2 record and the division title. He accounted for 4,000 yards and 58 touchdowns, including throwing for 3,077 and 46 scores.
Barriere’s biggest contribution came when it was unexpected. He not only saved his biggest performances during the biggest games, but at the biggest moments. None bigger than in the Southwest title game when he led La Habra to a 39-36 win over San Clemente.
The Highlanders quest to win the program’s seventh section title looked bleak after they gave up the lead to San Clemente with 20 seconds to play. But Barriere, who earlier in the season beat Los Alamitos with a Hail Mary throw, had one more up his sleeve, tossing 27 yards to Prince Ross to beat the Tritons.
“When he started making those plays (as a sophomore), you start thinking this is something (special),” La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta said. “From there, plays kept coming and kept coming, and obviously cultivating this year with his play leading us to the championship.
“The average kid is getting sacked, and he’s breaking them for first downs or touchdowns. It’s crazy.”
Barriere, who has received an offer from Eastern Washington, completed his high school career by throwing for 414 yards and accounting for three touchdowns in a 63-49 loss to Camarillo in the regional playoffs.
“It was a really great year,” Barriere said. “It was great for the program to win CIF for the first time in five years. All offseason and season it was our goal to win a championship and we did that.”
Source: Whittier Daily News
NORWALK – They had a prayer answered back in mid-September when faced with a similar situation.
With five seconds left on the clock and a quarterback capable of doing just about anything with the ball in his hand, the La Habra sideline knew it still had a flicker of hope on the final play from scrimmage Friday night in the CIF-SS Southwest Division championship game.
After avoiding San Clemente’s initial rush, scrambling to his right to extend the play, Eric Barriere heaved a 27-yard pass into the back corner of the end zone where a diving Prince Ross made the catch of a lifetime, inciting a celebration no Highlander will forget in La Habra’s stunning 39-36 win over the Tritons on the final play from scrimmage at Cerritos College.
“It’s ironic because we said the team that had the ball last would probably win, but I didn’t realize it would be the team who had the ball with 20 seconds on the clock,” said Highlanders coach Frank Mazzotta, amidst a sea of blue. “With the ball in Eric’s hand, we’ve got a chance. We tried to get the ball in his hands a lot tonight.”
Barriere was nothing short of brilliant in capturing the school’s seventh CIF championship, and its first since 2010. The senior completed 15 of 16 passes for 293 yards and four touchdowns. He also carried the ball 12 times for 98 yards, scoring on a dazzling 38-yard run on which he hurdled a would-be tackler, before splitting two more defenders en route to the end zone.
Ross and Amon Fellows were the only two La Habra receivers to catch passes Friday night. Fellows had eight receptions for 142 yards and a score, and Ross had seven catches for 151 yards and three scores, none bigger or more clutch than the 27-yarder with no time left on the clock.
“I ran through the safeties, Eric was scrambling to his right and he saw me, I was jumping,” Ross explained. “He threw it and I knew I had to get to it. This it it. We have no time left. So I dove and I got both of my legs in.”
La Habra (13-1), which won its seventh CIF-SS title since 2002, jumped out to a 33-21 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run from CJ Taylor (147 yards).
San Clemente (11-3) cut the deficit to four points on the ensuing possession, with quarterback Jack Sears bulldozing his way 27 yards for the score, and then converting the two-point conversion.
With 3:07 left on the clock and the Highlanders driving into the Triton red zone, Mazzotta elected to go for a fourth-and-6 from the 16-yard line. Barriere’s lone incompletion of the night gave San Clemente the ball with plenty of time on the clock.
An 11-play, 84-yard touchdown drive ended with Sears’ 4-yard strike to Brandon Reaves, putting San Clemente ahead, 36-33, with 20 seconds remaining.
“When I saw the score, I kind of felt down, but I knew we had a shot,” Barriere said. “I knew our team was capable of scoring again. We got a big return from Eric Lancaster-Garcia, plus the flag.”
Lancaster-Garcia returned the ensuing kickoff to the 45-yard line, with a personal foul penalty giving the Highlanders possession at San Clemente’s 41 with 10 seconds to play.
Barriere hit Fellows with a quick 14-yard pass on the sideline, setting up a play every Highlander will remember for the rest of their lives.
“It was a tough loss and words can’t heal what happened tonight,” San Clemente coach Jaime Ortiz said. “But 10, 15 years from now, these guys can look back and say they had a great career here at San Clemente High School. Back-to-back CIF finals, and they put San Clemente back on the map.”
La Habra High School’s quest for its seventh CIF Southern Section title looked over. Done. Kaput.
But nothing is over when Eric Barriere is your quarterback. He proved it earlier in a final-second win over Los Alamitos and did it again Friday, tossing 27 yards to Prince Ross to give the Highlanders an unbelievable 39-36 victory over San Clemente to win the Southwest Division title at Cerritos College.
Barriere accounted for 386 yards and five touchdowns for La Habra, which improved to 13-1 and earned a spot in next week’s CIF State Regional bowl games. San Clemente, getting 252 yards and three touchdowns from Jack Sears, finished 11-3.
“It was like the win over Los Alamitos,” Barriere said. “I had to buy time. I just threw it up and another mircacle happened, and (Ross) caught it. And we won the championship.”
• VIDEO: Highlights form La Habra’s 39-36 win
La Habra’s chances looked dead late after Sears guided the Tritons 86 yards and gave them a 36-33 lead with a 4-yard pass to Brandon Reaves with 20 seconds left.
La Habra then returned the kick to its 44 and got the ball at San Clemente’s 41 after a 15-yard penalty. Barriere completed a pass to the 27 before he rolled right with five seconds left. He then lofted a pass toward the northeast corner and Ross made a diving catch to win it.
“The last play; it was amazing,” Ross said. “Eric had to find me. Eric rolled out, he threw the ball and I caught it.
“There’s nothing better than to win the championship like this. It was amazing.”
La Habra looked to have the game secure early in the fourth quarter.
The Highlanders, after giving up a 79-yard drive to San Clemente for a 21-14 deficit, countered with back-to-back scoring plays by Barriere. The senior tossed 84 yards to Ross on a catch and run before Barriere ran 38 yards for a 27-21 lead.
CJ Taylor, who rushed for 148 yards, made it 33-21 with 11:54 left.
Sears followed with a 27-yard run to make it 33-29 with 8:54 to play before throwing the 4-yard pass to Reaves with 20 seconds left.
Barriere then followed with his heroics.
“We have belief in ourselves,” Barriere said. “Once they scored, we said we can still score. Our team believed we could still score and we end up scoring. I just want to thank God for blessing us with another victory. It’s amazing.”
The game was tied at 14 at halftime.
San Clemente forced a fumble inside its 10 late in the second quarter, then drove 91 yards to tie with three seconds left in the half.
The big play was an 27-yard option pass from Keith Jones to Eldridge at the La Habra 26. Sears followed with a scramble to the 8 before throwing 2 yards to Eldridge to tie it at 14.
La Habra was looking good early, scoring on its first two drives. The Highlanders, who had 210 yards in the first half, opened the game with a 71-yard drive and took a 7-0 lead on 30-yard pass from Barriere to Amon Fellows at 8:32 of the first quarter.
Barriere, after San Clemente tied it at 7, drove La Habra 80 yards gave the Highlanders a 14-7 lead with a 9-yard pass to Ross at 11:15 of the second. He set it up with a 16-yard pass to Fellows at the Tritons’ 11 on a fourth and 10.
San Clemente, after La Habra took its early lead, scored its first touchdown on an 80-yard drive. Brandon Reaves, who rushed for 50 yards in the first half, capped it with a 1-yard run.
Another miraculous catch on the final play lifts La Habra over San Clemente 39-36 to win CIF title for the seventh time in school history on Friday night at Cerritos College.
The Tritons scored a go ahead touchdown to make it 36-33 with just 20 seconds left on the clock, forcing the Highlanders to call upon quarterback Eric Barriere to pullout another improbable finish.
With the CIF Championship hanging in the balance, “EB3” used his uncanny improvisation skills to elude the pass rush, allowing Prince Ross enough time to get open in the corner of the end zone where Barriere threaded the needle between a cluster of red and white jerseys for the title-winning touchdown as time expired.
“Oh my lord that kid is something,” head coach Frank Mazzotta said of his quarterback.
Ross said that he knew Barriere was going to make the play and was just trying to get open for him.
“I knew Eric could do it, he is amazing,” Ross said. “For him to throw that ball and trust me was great.”
After giving up the lead with just seconds to play, prospects looked grim for La Habra. However, drawing upon their experience with a similar last second victory over Los Alamitos early this season, the Highlanders believed they could make it happen.
Eric Lancaster-Garcia, who had the game-winning grab against the Griffins in week four, returned the ensuing kickoff to the 45-yard-line and a personal foul on San Clemente moved the ball to the Triton 40.
With time for two plays, Barrier quickly hit Ross on an out for 13 yards to stop the clock and setup the final play— the 27-yard touchdown from Barriere to Ross.
“This is my first ever championship, it’s a great feeling to win it like this,” Barriere said.
Earlier, the Triton defense came up with a big stop with just over three minutes to play, when they deflected Barriere’s pass into the end zone on fourth down, falling incomplete.
San Clemente took possession at the 16-yard-line with 3:01 to play and quarterback Jack Sears led them on an 84-yard go-ahead scoring drive.
The first half ended with the score knotted at 14-14.
Both offenses moved the ball with ease for the majority of the game. The only punts in the game for either side came in the third quarter when the Highlander defense forced the Tritons to punt on back-to-back series.
Barriere played a near-flawless game, completing 16-17 passes for 314 yards and four touchdowns, adding 93 yards and one touchdown on the ground.
Ross had a big second half with 128 yards and two touchdowns, including an 84-yard catch and run that tied the game 21-21. He finished with 174 yards and three scores.
Amon Fellows was Barriere’s go-to receiver in the first half, racking up 101 of his 140 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown on the opening drive.
The Highanders turned to running back C.J. Taylor to carry the load in the second half. After a slow start and an early fumble, Taylor began to wear down the Triton defense late, gaining chunks of yards with his patient and churning running style. Taylor gained 101 yards in the second half, and 139 total yards with one score.
The Tritons much like they had all season, relied heavily on the three-pronged rushing attack of Vlad Dzhabiev, Brandon Reaves and quarterback Jack Sears. The trio combined for 319 yards. Reaves added two touchdowns, while Sears and Dzhabiev each scored one.
Sears carried the offense down the stretch, with 103 of his 124 rushing yards coming in the second half. The junior quarterback went 11-16 for 125 yards passing with two scores.
The Tritons (11-3) final game was a heartbreaker, but the team promises to be strong again next season with Sears returning for his senior season. Head coach Jaime Garcia commended his quarterback’s will to win and was proud of the way his team battled.
“It’s a tough loss and words can’t heal what happened here tonight, but 10-15 years from now these kids can say they had a great career here,” Tritons head coach Jaime Garcia said.
The Highlanders (13-1) captured the school’s seventh CIF Championship with the win. Mazzotta said tonight was definitely the most dramatic one yet. La Habra will move on to a regional championship game against Camarillo (14-0) next week.
Source: La Habra Journal
By KENNY CONNOLLY
Eric Barriere’s Twitter photo aptly depicts the relationship he and La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta maintain.
It’s a simple picture really, the Highlanders quarterback exchanging a casual fist bump with his veteran coach on the sideline, presumably following a touchdown or the type of highlight reel play ‘EB3’ has made the new norm in north county.
Mazzotta has seen the kid do it all: hurdle would-be tacklers, hit receivers with a pass down the field with a simple flick of the wrist, even turn the most hopeless of plays into large gains with his mobility.
Now in year three of Barriere’s tenure as the team’s starting quarterback, the only thing that has eluded the duo is a CIF-SS championship. That can change tonight when top-seeded La Habra plays second-seeded San Clemente at Cerritos College at 7 in the Southwest Division final.
“Him and I have really been together for four years now,” Mazzotta said. “I brought him up as a freshman and we’ve worked together ever since. So it’s definitely bittersweet. I don’t want this season to end just because of that.”
Over Barriere’s 36 career starts, La Habra’s offense has averaged 42 points and has been limited to 20 points or fewer just twice, both times against Mission Viejo. The Highlanders have won 29 games with Barriere as its starter, and win No. 30 would bring the program’s CIF trophy count to seven overall.
“Coming in as a little sophomore – starting my first varsity game – I didn’t know what to expect,” Barriere explained. “After the first half of that year, the game kind of slowed down. Ever since then, I’ve been calm and nothing really phases me.”
Having won CIF titles with Daniel Morales, Chris Morales, Randall Nygren and Cody Clements in years past, Mazzotta puts Barriere atop the list of quarterbacks he has coached.
“He’s the one that combines the best running, throwing combination,” he said. “He’s just as smart and he offers more of the overall package. So he’s got to be No. 1 on the list.”
In the first three rounds of the playoffs, Barriere accounted for 15 total touchdowns – nine passing and six rushing – and did not have a pass intercepted.
A pass-first mentality might be the most impressive of Barriere’s traits, given that he’s athletic enough to get by on just his running ability.
This season, the Highlanders senior has had double-digit rushing attempts in just three games. He has gained 759 yards on just 84 carries, an average of 9 yards a pop.
“He can make anything happen at any point in time,” La Habra wide receiver Amon Fellows said. “It’s up to us to stay alive and make sure that he can throw us the ball down field instead of him running, getting hurt potentially.”
Making plays is exactly what the Highlanders will need from Barriere if they hope to celebrate the school’s first CIF championship since 2010.
And if there is reason to rejoice after tonight’s showdown, don’t expect the coach and his quarterback to be quite as laid-back as they are in the photo.
Source: OC Register
LONG BEACH – It was a moment scripted in Eric Barriere’s dreams and it came true in dramatic fashion Friday night, sending La Habra into a CIF championship-worthy celebration in September.
And who could blame the No. 8 Highlanders after the stunning finish to their nonleague game against No. 7 Los Alamitos at Veterans Stadium.
Barriere threw a 44-yard touchdown on a Hail Mary pass on the final play of the game to wide receiver Eric Lancaster-Garcia to lift La Habra to a 37-32 victory.
In typical Barriere fashion, he scrambled across the field to his left on the play, then hoisted a half-the-field pass toward the opposite front, corner of the end zone to Lancaster-Garcia, who caught the ball cleanly in a crowd of about five players.
La Habra (3-1) stormed Lancaster-Garcia in the end zone in a wild celebration.
“I dream of feeling like this, a game like this,” said Barriere, whose TD pass came out of a timeout with two seconds left. “Before the play, I just felt confident. I knew we were going to win this game.
“This is my first (Hail Mary). Finally doing one is pretty crazy.”
Barriere’s heroics capped a back-and-forth second half. Los Alamitos (2-1) took a 32-31 lead with 47 seconds left as Randall Gonzalez scored on a 11-yard touchdown run – on his only carry – and tight end Drew Platt caught a 2-point conversion pass from quarterback Jack Telenko.
The Highlanders started the ensuing drive at their 19. Despite a sack on first down by Joey Noble and a near-interception on second down, Barriere completed two passes to reach the Griffins 44 with two seconds left.
“Very overwhelmed,” said Lancaster-Garcia, who hugged a reporter afterward. “I just did what I was coached to do. I went up for the ball. No regrets. Came down with it. … I didn’t catch any other ball but I came down with it when it counted.”
La Habra led, 24-7, at halftime, passing up a short field goal attempt to take an unsuccessful shot at the end zone.
Los Alamitos surged in the second half behind its defense, Telenko and running back Schuyler Whitehead.
Whitehead scored on touchdown runs of 1 and 14 yards in the third quarter, the latter coming off a fourth-and-1 stand by the Griffins at midfield. Early in the fourth, Whitehead knocked Barriere out of the game for one play, which La Habra fumbled away at its 45.
Los Alamitos drove for a 25-yard field goal by Jacob Gasser with 7:38 left in the fourth, tying the score, 24-24.
Penalties were costly for the Griffins. On the drive, Whitehead had a touchdown run negated by a holding call.
La Habra flexed its ground muscle on the ensuing possession, driving from its 8 for a 12-yard TD run byMadison Wheeler with 4:50 left in the fourth. The extra-point by Holden Remme gave La Habra a 31-24 lead.
But the Highlanders still had to push to the final play to beat the Griffins and show what they learned from a loss against Mission Viejo.
“It just shows how tough we are, especially from last week (against Mission Viejo),” Barriere said. “I felt we should have won that game.”
Before Friday’s game, La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta said, “You can’t leave the door open against good teams.”
Barriere slammed the door on the Griffins on the final play but he also ran for two touchdowns in the first half and threw another.
His two touchdowns were separated by about two minutes in the second quarter. The second one came after an interception by cornerback Michael Walters at the 50 as the Griffins mixed up a pass route. Two plays laterd bat the Griffins 44, Barriere ran right on an option, faked a pitch to juke Whitehead and burst into the secondary. He broke a tackle at the 25 and raced into the end zone for 21-7 lead.