Justin Del Bosque has had an exhausting last 11 days. But you won't hear him complain; it may have also been 11 of the most exciting days of his life.
The Lingleville football head coach witnessed the birth of his son Kase on Thursday, Oct. 25, rose early so his other child could participate in the school's spook parade on Friday, Oct. 26, then was hard at work coaching Lingleville to a late comeback in a 61-56 victory over Iredell in the Cardinals' first district contest since the resurrection of their program three years ago later that night.
One week after the biggest win in the history of the program, the Cardinals topped themselves once more, this time coming back to upend Gustine 69-68 on the road to secure a playoff spot in their first year of post season eligibility.
"It's been hectic, but it's been rewarding," said Del Bosque, whose Cardinals improved to 7-2 on the year and 2-0 in Six-Man Division I District 10. "I'm just happy for the kids, the school and the community."
Junior quarterback and safety Robert VanKranenburg was at his best, accounting for nine touchdowns including the game-winning pass to Addison Hunter with 1:15 remaining. VanKranenburg passed for six touchdowns, rushed for two and returned an interception for a ninth.
"Robert played his best when we needed him the most," said Del Bosque.
But the Cardinals still needed a defensive stop over the final 75 seconds, and with 11 seconds left, the outlook appeared bleak.
"They got to our 11 yard line with 10 seconds left, then they ran it to the seven and we knocked them out of bounds," said Del Bosque. "Then they lined up for a game-winning field goal and we had all our timeouts so we used them."
Lingleville called its first timeout to line up for the field goal, which came after Gustine missed just one extra point kick on the night. The Cardinals still had two timeouts remaining, so they used another to ice the kicker.
"After the second timeout we just let it roll," said Del Bosque.
The kick sailed wide right with two seconds left, and VanKranenburg kneeled down to touch off the celebration.
"The kids were excited, it was a special night for sure," Del Bosque said.
The game-winning TD was about as adventurous as the Cards' season has been, thus the label 'Cardiac Cards' that Lingleville teachers have bestowed upon the team.
"We called a play for Addison, but when we got to the line Robert didn't like what he saw and checked out of it," Del Bosque explained. "He checked to a pitch play to Tucker (Click), but when he spun out to pitch it he saw that Gustine had a defender out there. He held onto the ball, scrambled around for about five seconds then actually tried to throw the ball to Ruperto Huerta in the back of the end zone."
One problem - Huerta was covered up - sandwiched, actually, said Del Bosque - by two Gustine defenders.
"Out of nowhere, here comes Addison diving in to catch the ball in front of Ruperto," Del Bosque said. "It wasn't anything you could draw up, he just made a play."
The win didn't come without adversity. VanKranenburg was the victim of a rough facemask penalty that left him in pain and out of the game for a brief period in the first half.
"He had to come out for a while, but when he went in he just went right back at it," Del Bosque said.
As big as any offensive play VanKranenburg made was his interception return. Lingleville had just scored to pull within one possession, then he jumped a route from his safety spot and picked off the pass at the Gustine 25 with a clear path to the end zone for the lead.
Three of VanKranenburg's TD passes went to Click and two to Huerta. Edwin Chacon scored on a four-yard TD run.
The Cardinals play for the district championship next Friday when they host Gordon in the regular season finale for both teams.
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