Vaqueros tame Bearcats and advance to state championship

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Fanfare greeted El Capitan fans as they entered Wendell R. Cutting Field to watch El Capitan take on Paso Robles High in the CIF Division III Southern California Regional Championship on Saturday night. Extra stands were placed behind both end-zones—an excellent decision by the school because it seemed as if the entire city of Lakeside was at the game, anxious to see whether the Vaqueros would clinch a berth in the State Championship for the first time in school history.

Fanfare greeted El Capitan fans as they entered Wendell R. Cutting Field to watch El Capitan take on Paso Robles High in the CIF Division III Southern California Regional Championship on Saturday night. Extra stands were placed behind both end-zones—an excellent decision by the school because it seemed as if the entire city of Lakeside was at the game, anxious to see whether the Vaqueros would clinch a berth in the State Championship for the first time in school history.

Paso Robles had dreams of spoiling the night, but El Capitan would not be stopped during an emphatic 41-0 victory.

Vaquero head coach Ron Burner said the team has not had time to reflect on its accomplishments.

“Even winning CIF hasn’t really sunk in with us yet because we have a mission still,” he said. “We’ve talked and talked and talked about taking one game at a time, we don’t look ahead. Not one kid talked about going to state next week because we knew we had a big game in front of us, so it really hasn’t set in.”
With just a slight 3-0 lead after the first quarter, El Capitan took control by scoring four touchdowns in a span of 5:06 during the second quarter.

Do-it-all receiver/defensive back/kick returner Isaiah Capoocia started the rally with 9:54 remaining in the second quarter when he took a sweep around the right side of the line for a one-yard touchdown and a 10-0 Vaquero lead. After El Cap’s defense forced quick a three-and-out, Capoocia struck again – this time scoring on a 62-yard punt return with 7:32 left in the second.

Not to be outdone, senior linebacker D.J. Smith intercepted a pass from Paso Robles quarterback Justin Davis and returned it 82 yards for yet another touchdown with 6:17 remaining in the quarter.

Finally, after linebacker John Lachappa recovered a fumbled toss to give the Vaqueros possession on the Bearcats’ 32-yard line, quarterback Brad Cagle threw a touchdown pass to Frankie Lima for a 31-0 lead with 4:48 left in the half. Burner said his players were fired up.

“The kids came to play football tonight,” he said. “It was just total domination.”

Paso Robles, Burner continued, helped stoke El Cap’s intensity.

“We should have had to go up there, they played people and we didn’t play anybody. We used that as motivation all week long and I think that kind of came out okay,” he said.

Smith said he was excited to participate in El Cap’s first state final appearance.

“We can say we’re the best in school history,” he said. “It’s a real cool feeling to say that we’re going to be remembered for the rest of the school’s existence.”

El Capitan will take on Campolindo (Moraga) High for the D-III state title at the StubHub Center in Carson on Saturday at noon. Time Warner Cable will televise the game live on TWC SportsNet. Capoocia said the Vaqueros have their sights set on that final trophy.

“We’re ready,” he said. “We’ll be coming.”

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