Heric carries Sharks to playoff victory

Quarterback Jonathan O'Neal gets ready to receive the ball for the next play. The offense scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to break the 27-27 tie.

After finishing the regular season with a stunning 9-1 record, the Malibu High School Sharks scored their first-ever playoff win on Friday, defeating the California School for the Deaf at Riverside Cubs, 41-27. The Sharks were buoyed by the heroic performance of Andrew Heric, who finished the game with 31 carries for 223 yards and five touchdowns.

The game was a seesaw battle from the start as CSDR scored a 65-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the game to take a 6-0 lead. Malibu immediately responded with a touchdown by junior workhorse Miles Edman (20 carries for 120 yards) to take a 7-6 lead.

On the ensuing drive, the Cubs stunned Malibu with a 54-yard touchdown run, sprung by their strong running game. On the next possession, Sharks quarterback Johnny O’Neal floated a pass to the right side of the field that was intercepted deep in Malibu territory. As the Cubs were moving toward the end zone, Malibu forced a fumble on their four-yard line and began a march toward the CSDR end zone. The drive was capped off by a 10-yard run by Heric, putting the Sharks ahead, 14-13.

The teams continued to trade touchdowns against each other, with the Sharks taking small bites of yardage by mixing runs by Edman and Heric. Early in the second half, Malibu’s James Harper twice gave the Sharks great field position, returning Cubs’ kickoffs to mid-field. At the end of the third quarter, the game was tied, 27-27.

In the fourth quarter Heric, who punished Cubs runners as he played defensive end, wore down CSDR and scored two more touchdowns on tough rushes. The Malibu defense held strong in the fourth quarter, shutting down the CSDR offense to hold on to victory.

The Sharks face their toughest test of the year on Friday when they face Temecula’s Linfield Christian in the second round of the Division XIII playoffs. For most of the season, Linfield was the top-ranked team in the division. The game will be played at Westlake High School at 7:00. The Sharks are hoping for great community support as they look to extend their 10-game winning streak to go to the division semifinals the following week.