For De La Salle, triumph over injuries part of its 2022 football story

If an image can encapsulate a season, this was it.

Amid blissful chaos as teammates celebrated an epic regional championship victory on the road over Folsom, De La Salle defensive lineman Chase Tofaeono took an internally quiet and tearful moment to himself.

In a season fraught with team-wide injuries, Tofaeono’s were among the most crushing. The difference-making player broke a foot playing rugby last spring. When the injury healed and the senior was cleared to practice football, his other foot broke.

For nearly two months, Tofaeono couldn’t be sure that he’d get a moment such as last Friday’s, when De La Salle survived a defensive battle over Folsom, 17-14, to advance to the Division 1-AA state championship game Friday in Mission Viejo against Lincoln-San Diego.

But the foot mended, he got the OK to play at the start of the playoffs and there he was last weekend on Folsom’s blue turf, in the middle of the action as De La Salle (10-3) won its biggest game of the season.

“I am happy right now,” Tofaeono said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling right now, to be able to go to state with my brothers again after missing almost the whole season. Yes, it was a grind. But I had to stay committed, stay working for my brothers because you never know. I might’ve come back. I might not.”

As Tofaeono spoke, teammates hoisted the regional championship trophy behind him, a warm and special moment on a frigid night.

Does that make everything worth it?

“Yes,” Tofaeono said, smiling. “It’s so worth it right now. Everybody’s smiling. Everybody’s crying. Just all the brotherhood that we’ve been through. I am glad we’re going to get state right now.”

De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh called his lineman special.

“If you’re a different kid than Chase Tofaeono and you weren’t as committed to the program as he is, he probably could have called it in and tried to prep for rugby season,” Alumbaugh said. “That guy lived in the weight room and he never lost doubt.

“In a lot of ways, that’s sort of the mantra of this team, the spirit of this team. These guys just keep battling. They keep showing up. They love one another. I am happy for them. We all want more. We’ve got one more.”

Tofaeono will get his moment on a state championship game stage.

So will lineman Derek Thompson, a Harvard-bound standout who has battled an assortment of leg issues to somehow make it to the final game of his senior season.

“The guy could hardly practice, I’ll be honest,” Alumbaugh said about Thompson on the field Friday. “He’s got a broken foot. He’s still dealing with a knee from last year, and he’s out here. I saw him with tears after the game. What a great moment as a coach.”

De La Salle’s Derek Thompson (62) holds up the first place plaque after defeating Folsom during the CIF NorCal Division 1-AA regional championship game at Folsom High School in Folsom, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. De La Salle defeats Folsom 17-14. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

Another top player in the senior class, tight end/defensive end Cooper Flanagan, won’t be on the field. The Notre Dame commit suffered a meniscus injury in a section championship game on Nov. 18. He had hoped to play last week but has been ruled out for the remainder of the season.

“He’s the heart and soul of this team,” Thompson said. “I can’t believe he’s out for the rest of this season. It’s horrible. It’s unbelievable. He’s one of my best friends.”

Despite all the injuries, De La Salle has won its past seven games, a run that has put the Spartans a victory over Lincoln (12-1) from the program’s first state championship in seven years.

“When we were 3-3 at one point, I knew this could happen,” Thompson added. “But there were some dark days there where we didn’t know how it was going to go. We turned it around. I am so proud of these guys for bouncing back. Not many teams could do this.”


What: CIF Division 1-AA state championship

Where: Saddleback College, Mission Viejo

When: Friday, 8 p.m.

Stream: NFHS network

Storylines: De La Salle is appearing in its 15th state championship game since the CIF added state finals in 2006. … The Spartans are seeking their eighth state title and first since 2015. … In its only state final appearance, Lincoln lost to Menlo-Atherton 21-7 in the 3-AA title game at Sequoia High in 2018. … Roderick Robinson, a 6-2, 230-pound senior running back, stars for Lincoln. … In the SoCal 1-AA final on Friday, the Georgia commit rushed for 181 yards in 16 carries and scored four touchdowns as Lincoln rolled past Sierra Canyon-Chatsworth 37-14. …De La Salle held Folsom to 41 yards rushing – and 171 total – in a 17-14 victory on Friday for the NorCal 1-AA title. …’s computer projects Lincoln to win 28-21.

Source link

Related posts

Lincoln vs Alexandria Live Stream How To Watch Lincoln vs Alexandria Football

School Sports

Kansas vs Salina Live Stream How To Watch Kansas vs Salina Football

School Sports

Beaufort Academy vs Thomas Sumter Academy Live Stream How To Watch Beaufort Academy vs Thomas Sumter Academy Football

School Sports

Leave a Comment