East County presence to be felt at this weekend’s CIF football finals

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The San Diego Section football playoffs have been scheduled at Southwestern College’s renovated DeVore Stadium this year, and East County teams have taken the spotlight.

The six-game championship series kicked off Nov. 28 with the fifth-seeded La Jolla Country Day Torreys defeating the second-seeded Vincent Memorial Scots, 42-0, to capture the Division V championship.

The final five title games are scheduled this weekend, with three featuring an East County team vying for a division championship.

The San Diego Section football playoffs have been scheduled at Southwestern College’s renovated DeVore Stadium this year, and East County teams have taken the spotlight.

The six-game championship series kicked off Nov. 28 with the fifth-seeded La Jolla Country Day Torreys defeating the second-seeded Vincent Memorial Scots, 42-0, to capture the Division V championship.

The final five title games are scheduled this weekend, with three featuring an East County team vying for a division championship.

The weekend kicks off Friday, Dec. 5, at 3:30 p.m. with the second-seeded Mater Dei Catholic Crusaders (7-5) taking on the top-seeded and undefeated Bishop’s Knights (12-0) in the Division IV final and continues at 7 p.m. when the fourth-seeded Madison Warhawks (9-3) test the third-seeded St. Augustine Saints (7-5) for the Division I banner.

Madison has won ninth straight games after a 0-3 start to the season; St. Augustine is 5-1 after starting the season 2-4.

Three games round out the championship weekend schedule on Saturday, Dec. 6. All three games feature an East County team.

The Division III final starts off the gridiron action at noon pitting the second-seeded and defending division champion Christian Patriots (12-0) against the top-seeded Hoover Cardinals (9-3).

Christian takes a 19-game winning streak into the match-up against Hoover, the longest active winning streak among section schools.

The Division II title contest follows at 3:30 p.m. when the top-seeded El Capitan Vaqueros (12-0) clash with the third-seeded Rancho Bernardo Broncos (10-2). The undefeated Vaqueros are making their first CIF finals appearance since 1963.

The Open Division championship game closes out the weekend of prep football finals at 7 p.m. when the third-seeded Helix Highlanders (10-2) take aim on the top-seeded Oceanside Pirates (12-0).

Of the five CIF title games scheduled this weekend, four will showcase undefeated teams: Oceanside (Open Division), El Capitan (Division II), Christian (Division III) and Bishop’s (Division IV).

Scotties on top

The team that wins the Open Division title is regarded as the best team in the San Diego Section, inclusive of all divisions. Will the Pirates or the Scotties reign supreme this year?

Helix suffered two regular season losses—9-7 to Cathedral Catholic on Sept. 19 and 24-17 to El Capitan on Nov. 7 in the Grossmont Hills League championship game. The Highlanders avenged their loss to Cathedral Catholic with an emphatic 27-5 win over the second-seeded Dons (10-2) in the division semifinals on Nov. 28.

Helix kicked off this year’s championship playoffs with a rousing 58-35 win against sixth-seeded Ramona (8-3) on Nov. 21.

The Scotties cobbled together an impressive six-game winning streak between the losses to Cathedral Catholic and El Capitan.

While Helix will not have the opportunity to try to avenge the loss to the Vaqueros in the playoffs, as both teams are in different divisions, the Highlanders do have the opportunity to crown themselves as the section’s top team with a win over Oceanside.

Quarterback Michael Austin threw a pair of touchdown passes to teammate DaShawn Kiersey to boost the Scotties to a 20-3 lead over the Dons entering the final quarter.

Helix led 13-3 at halftime and nailed down the victory on an 87-yard breakaway run by Austin with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Matthias Layton booted a pair of field goals from 47 and 39 yards in the first quarter to account for the rest of the Helix scoring.

The Highlanders, who had ended their season in the semifinals in each of the last two seasons, limited host Cathedral Catholic to 234 yards in snapping the Dons’ 10-game winning streak.

Nathan Stinson leads Helix with 19 rushing touchdowns on the season while Austin has thrown 18 touchdowns.

Oceanside, meanwhile, was forced to rally from a 14-point deficit against fourth-seeded and defending division champion Mission Hills (9-3) in its semifinal game. The Pirates won 38-31 after trailing the Grizzlies by scores of 14-0 and 21-14 in the first half.

Mission Hills upped its lead to 28-14 after scoring the opening touchdown of the second half. That’s when Oceanside began its furious comeback.

Josh Bernard scored on a one-yard run to cap an 80-yard, 11-play drive to bring the Pirates to within one touchdown on the scoreboard and Oceanside quarterback Matthew Romero then threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to John Grumbling to tie the score.

The Pirates’ scoring onslaught continued when Bernard connected with Malavai Taylor on a 22-yard scoring pass to put the hosts up 35-28.

After the teams traded field goals to make the score 38-31 in Oceanside’s favor, Mission Hills advanced the ball to the Pirate 34-yard line with 55 seconds to play. But the Oceanside defense came up big as Isaiah Paopao made an interception in the end zone to secure the win for the Pirates—and a date in the division championship game.

Romero passed for 319 yards in the win for Oceanside. He has amassed 2,513 passing yards and 23 touchdowns against five interceptions in 12 games.

Bernard rushed for 129 yards on 20 carries. He has rushed 200 times for 1,359 yards and 24 touchdowns on the season.

Johnny Arzola leads Oceanside receivers with 684 receiving yards while Paopao (558 receiving yards) has eight TD catches. Arzola had 98 yards on 10 catches in the win over Mission Hills.

Patriots seek 10th CIF title in school history with perfect finish

The Christian Patriots were the little team that made good last season, roaring to the Division III championship title with a 19-7 victory against the 2,200 student-enrollment strong San Marcos Knights despite possessing a student enrollment of less than 400 students themselves.

The Patriots were no surprise this season, but needed a bit of late heroics to stave off an upset bid by the 11th-seeded Morse Tigers in last Friday’s section semifinals.

Christian (12-0) takes an undefeated record into Saturday’s division final against the top-seeded Hoover Cardinals (10-2) at Southwestern College. Kick-off is noon.

The Patriots take a 19-game winning streak into the championship match-up against the Cardinals. It is the longest active winning streak in the section.

But it almost came to a crashing end at Granite Hills high School against the upset-minded Tigers, who had eliminated two higher-seeded teams (sixth-seeded Bonita Vista in the opening round and third-seeded Sweetwater in the quarterfinals).

Christian bested Morse, 25-20, but it wasn’t easy.

Morse went ahead, 20-19, with 51.5 seconds to play on a scoring run by signal-caller Khyran Jackson-Barbee but the Patriots responded with a last-minute touchdown of their own to grab the victory in one of the more exciting games to be played in this year’s section playoffs.

Adrian Petty scored the game-winner on a 33-yard run. It was his third touchdown of the game after previously scored on a pair of 10-yard runs. He rushed 21 times for 87 yards in the game.

Pats quarterback David Todd Jeremiah completed 16 of 24 attempts for 166 yards and one touchdown.  He connected with teammate Brandon Hester on a 10-yard scoring pass in the second quarter.

Jeremiah has passed for 2,538 yards and 30 touchdowns on the season with just four interceptions.

Petty has rushed for 1,904 yards and scored 26 rushing touchdowns; he has also collected 199 receiving yards and one TD to lead Christian with 28 total TDs.

Petty leads the team with 2,450 all-purpose yards.

Joey Morones ranks second in team rushing with 451 yards and 15 touchdowns. He ranks second with 16 total touchdowns and leads the team defensively with 74 tackles.

Top receivers include Nick Sexton (841 receiving yards, eight touchdowns), Trevor Howell (610 yards, nine touchdowns) and Chad Humphries (534 yards, nine touchdowns).

Christian had to rely on some late heroics in its dramatic 42-38 shootout win over 10th-seeded La Jolla in the quarterfinals.

Jeremiah passed for 225 yards and four touchdowns in that game but was intercepted three times. Howell had four catches for 120 yards and three touchdowns in the win over the potent Vikings (6-6).

The Pats have done just enough defensively to fend off their two opening playoff challenges.

Hunter Arvan tops the Pats with four sacks on the season while Humphries, Cody Kirwan and Jon Stine each have three sacks.

Howell has four picks while Humphries and J.D. Parker each have two interceptions.

Humphries, Howell and Parker each recorded interceptions on defense in the semifinal win while Humphries also had one sack.

Christian has nine division titles to its credit in school history. Will the Patriots hang a perfect 10 in 2014?

El Capitan Vaqueros look to complete perfect season

The El Capitan Vaqueros are making their first trip to the San Diego Section finals since 1963, and look to make it a winning one after smashing the fourth-seeded Brawley Wildcats, 34-7, in the Division II semifinals Nov. 28 in Lakeside.

The Vaqueros take a perfect 12-0 record into Saturday’s division final at Southwestern College against the third-seeded Rancho Bernardo Broncos (10-2). Kick-off is 3:30 p.m.

The Broncos upset second-seeded San Marcos (10-2) by a score of 42-10 in their semifinal game.

El Capitan played much to form, with quarterback Brad Cagle passing for 301 yards and four touchdowns. But the Vaquero defense rose to the occasion, limiting the Wildcats (10-2) to just seven first downs to snap Brawley’s 10-game winning streak.

Cagle fired three first-half scoring passes to put his team up 21-0. He connected on two touchdown passes to Isaiah Capoocia and one each to D.J. Smith and Sam Melero in the game.

Cagle has entrenched himself as one of the section’s most prolific passers. He has completed 60.7 percent of his attempts this season for 2,486 yards and 28 touchdowns while being intercepted just five times.

He has thrown for at least 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in three consecutive seasons and has amassed more than 7,100 passing yards and 70 touchdowns in his career – numbers that place him among the top five leaders all-time in each category.

Top receivers this season for El Capitan include Capoocia (885 receiving yards, 14 touchdowns), Joseph Lachappa (576 yards, three touchdowns) and Zach Cagle (426 yards, four touchdowns). Smith and Melero each have three TD catches to their credit.

Brad and Zach Cagle are twin brothers.

Capoocia had seven catches for 111 yards in the win over Brawley while Lachappa had four catches for 72 yards.

But the Vaqueros aren’t all about passing the football. Smith has rushed for 1,147 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. He scored on a 16-yard run to boost El Capitan to a 28-0 lead early in the third quarter against Brawley besides catching an earlier screen pass for a touchdown.

Smith also leads the team with 98 tackles. As a team, the Vaqs has amassed 48 sacks and 21 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries.

James Owens leads El Cap with 10.5 sacks while Jarred Turner has seven picks.

Head coach Ron Burner has said the Vaqueros defense has played “great” all season long.

Despite all their success this season — El Capitan blasted eighth-seeded Mt. Carmel, 48-6, in the quarterfinals on Nov. 21 — the Vaqueros are still seeking their first division championship. The Lakeside team dropped its 1963 CIF title game encounter to Kearny.

El Capitan is looking to make history on Saturday, however.

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