With the wind howling and leaves swirling, the Auburn High School Trojans were eliminated from the playoffs Nov. 4 by the Southridge Suns, 41-20. The Trojans were playing in their first playoff game since 2014, and seemingly with a gust of wind from Mother Nature, they were swept into the offseason.
The Trojans had just come off their first football league championship since 2009, and hosted the Suns in a game that almost handed them their first state appearance in football since 2012.
Southridge got out to a hot start, slowing down the fast-paced offense of the Trojans. The Suns scored two touchdowns in the first half and held Auburn scoreless at halftime. The wind narrowly affected the offense of the Suns, seeming to be allies in the renewable energy sector.
But the Trojans, however, couldn’t quite figure out how to navigate the elements on offense.
Auburn started with the ball to start the second half. The game was still within reach. The Trojans took the ball 75 yards, and on fourth down, finally broke through. Auburn scored a seven-yard touchdown on a pass from senior QB Amari Goodfellow to freshman Christian Titialii. With the extra point being blocked, Auburn closed the gap to a one possession game with the score 14-6.
Southridge went on the score four consecutive touchdowns, putting the game away for the Suns. The run of Southridge touchdowns was aided by two fumbles lost by the Trojans, fueling momentum for Southridge.
The Trojans were able to score again before the end of the contest. With just over two minutes left in the game, Auburn was pushed down the field by Goodfellow, who got them inside the 5 yard line. From the four, Goodfellow took it into the endzone, putting the score at 41-13. On the ensuing kickoff, Latvian foreign exchange student Karlis Cakuls executed the perfect onside kick that was recovered by Auburn.
The Trojans on their next possession went down and scored again. Senior Dominik Smith ran from two yards out for Auburn’s third score of the game. After the extra point, the Trojans were not able to recover the onside kick, and Southridge went on to kneel-out the game.
The loss stung coach Aaron Chantler — the Auburn team was a veteran group with 14 graduating seniors, all but one of whom were starters.
“I am really proud of these guys. It is a special group with a lot of seniors we got to replace. Love those guys and they did a lot of good stuff at Auburn High,” Chantler said.
He is not going to take a lot of time to think about this defeat either.
“There is no real rest in the offseason,” Chantler said, “so we’ll give it 24-48 hours and then get right back to it.”