Belen Jesuit has thrived for years in the role of underdog — especially in the playoffs.
The Wolverines took down another favorite on their home field Friday afternoon when they beat Southridge 20-7 in a Region 4-8A quarterfinal at De la Cruz Stadium.
Belen (8-3) advances to play Killian next Friday at Tropical Park.
The Wolverines also became the first team from District 15-8A to win a playoff game.
Belen, however, joined the district last season and has defeated the likes of Norland, Jackson, Edison, Northwestern, Booker T. Washington in previous years in the playoffs.
That fact gave Belen plenty of confidence to this year’s Belen team, according to longtime coach Rich Stuart.
“We had a lot of kids on this team that were seventh-graders the year we went to state,” Stuart said. “They may not have played but they saw those guys win games like this and it meant a lot to them. They didn’t want their season to end.”
Belen’s defense stood tough from the start against Southridge (7-4).
Led by Francisco Castellanos‘ two interceptions, Belen totaled five sacks and only allowed one second quarter touchdown to Spartans’ running back Roshard Phillips.
Belen meanwhile ran the ball often at will in their signature Wing-T scheme.
The Wolverines amassed 265 yards as Brandon Silvestry and Joseph Garcia each had a first-half touchdown.
Garcia’s score right before halftime gave Belen the lead for good.
Kicker Jake Ramirez added a pair of field goals in the second half to help secure the victory.
“This was probably the best game we played all year,” Stuart said. “These kids put it all together out there today and I couldn’t be prouder. They saved their best for just the right time.”