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The Apple Valley football team’s improbable season came to a disappointing end Saturday night.
In front of their home fans, the Sun Devils scored a lone field goal en route to a 31-3 defeat by Serra in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 title game.
Serra won their first CIF-SS Division title in 2013 in their last appearance in the championship game.
This was Apple Valley’s first appearance in a CIF-SS title game in school history.
“I’ve never been more proud of a group of boys, a group of young men, than this group,” Apple Valley head coach Kyle Godfrey said.
The Sun Devils playoff run was unexpected from the start.
Apple Valley went into the playoffs without starting quarterback Jayden Denegal and starting running back Kaleb Most. Both went down with injuries against Oak Hills, knocking Denegal out for the playoffs, while Most returned against Serra, albeit in a limited role.
At running back, the team turned to a two-man split backfield between Samajay Andrews and Dustin Reynolds. Reynolds, reigning Mojave River defensive player of the year, had not played running back since freshman year but stepped up to the task during the playoffs.
At quarterback, the ball was given to sophomore Noah Celie who has mostly played wide receiver and safety this season.
The team started at the 16th seed in Division 3 with a new quarterback, new running backs, and a new offensive scheme to go up against some of the toughest teams in Southern California.
With the strength of the defense and some big plays by their offense, Apple Valley could buck the odds and keep winning. The Sun Devils beat Citrus Valley, Glendora, and Roosevelt to make it to the finals.
Unfortunately for them, that magic ran out against Serra.
“They’re missing their quarterback, their top running back was definitely hindered. I have so much respect for the way they played, to overcome everything that they’ve overcome,” Serra head coach Scott Altenberg said. “I…