Gauchos are in…play Fullerton

Gauchos are in…play Fullerton

The Southern California Regional Playoffs are set and the Saddleback football team has qualified.  The Gauchos are the No. 4 seed as an at-large bid and will play against top-seed Fullerton College next Saturday at Whittier College.

Saddleback won decisively on Saturday over Orange Coast (52-27) and then sat around waiting to see what happened in other games.  All eyes were on Riverside versus Mt. San Antonio, with a handful paying attention to what happened between Long Beach City and El Camino.  As it turned out, both games played a large hand in the Gauchos making the playoffs.  With Mt. San Antonio upsetting Riverside (24-17), Saddleback needed help from Long Beach City in order to qualify.  A win by Long Beach City would give the Central League a three-way tie, with tiebreaker going to Riverside.  The Vikings pulled it out over El Camino (55-48), and the Gauchos finished with a higher Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) for the at-large bid than both College of the Canyons and Mt. San Antonio, giving them the No. 4 seed for the upcoming playoffs.

Saddleback will now travel to Whitter College to face Fullerton, who finished the season 10-0.  The Hornets had the highest RPI in the southern half of the state and defeated the Gauchos three weeks ago, 56-35.  In that game, Saddleback carried a 21-14 lead into the locker room at halftime before a rough third quarter derailed their plans.  The Gauchos were outscored 28-0 in the third quarter and never recovered against the high-powered Hornets, leaving them playing a numbers game over the final three weeks in order to qualify as an at-large bid. 

Historically speaking, the rivalry is about as close as it can get.  Saddleback holds a 17-16 lifetime advantage over Fullerton following the game three weeks ago and won cliffhangers in both 2015 (39-36) and 2016 (30-27).  The Gauchos are one of only two teams to have led Fullerton in any game this season (Grossmont, 3-0, Q1), and the only team to hold a lead on the Hornets after the opening 12 minutes of any game this year. 

The game is scheduled to be played at Whitter College at 1:00 PM.  Fullerton normally plays its home games at Yorba Linda High School, but YLHS does not have college goal posts or hash marks which is a new rule in place for the 2017 playoffs. 

The other Southern California semifinal will feature (3) Ventura traveling to (2) Riverside. 

Keep up with all the latest information on the playoffs at or by following The Gaucho Dude on Twitter at @SCGauchos.