Football Weekly Previews
Last Season: 57-13 (.814)
2013 Season: 49-13 (.790)
2012 Season: 57-14 (.802)
La Jolla (8/27/2015) – It’s the fourth year of publication for San Diego Coastal Sports and in that inaugural year the staff of La Jolla Country Day featured two coaches that were bound for something bigger. La Jolla head coach JASON CARTER was plucked off the Torreys’ sidelines 3 seasons ago and TYLER HALES was handed the reigns at LJCD last season after several seasons as a coordinator. Now – for the second straight year – they will open up their seasons facing each other and that makes it the Week One “Coastal Sports Game of the Week.”
To even bring up last year’s game would be unfair, but then again…so is life.
The Vikings held a 57-19 lead at halftime thanks to their no-huddle spread attack offense completing 13 passes for 237 yards and 6 touchdowns. On top of that, the Torreys were starting 17 sophomores and most of them were playing in their first varsity game.
In the long run, it was a blessing in disguise for LJCD. Week-by-week they kept getting better and better which finally resulted in a steamrolling of San Diego Division V opponents on their way to a C.I.F. Championship.
“With all the young guys we were definitely in over our heads last year,” Hales admitted. “We are light years ahead defensively from where we were then and the guys all show one thousand times more confidence out on the field so this chance at revenge is the perfect storm.”
The good news for both teams is that they both face similar styles of up-tempo offenses in practice every day that don’t give the defense much time to relax so they are somewhat familiar with the task at hand. La Jolla’s depth on their roster just in numbers gives them the chance to make it two straight in this newly anointed backyard rivalry….La Jolla 34, La Jolla Country Day 28.
Sweetwater (0-0) vs SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (0-0) – Saturday 2
The Eagles spent the majority of last year in uncharted waters according to their program’s success in the past. Much like LJCD, their roster was littered with sophomores that were being asked to grow up in a hurry. Playing in a much higher division, the playoffs didn’t go exactly as planned, but the progress they have showed is undeniable.
Fast forward one season and there’s plenty of reasons for the Santa Fe Christian fans to be excited about. They did lose a lot of size up front, but have a solid youth movement at the skill positions that should be able to rack the points.
Sweetwater might not be so lucky. They graduated 32 players off a team that had a cinderella 10-1 season and return only three starters. The problem though is that those three starters combine to weigh almost 900 pounds between them. Finding talent outside of that might be a huge challenge for them this year.
“It’s definitely going to be a slugfest,” Eagles’ head coach JON WALLACE said. “We’re really young and got a lot of talent, but this one will be a battle of will. We always have a lot of two way players so our conditioning might be the key factor against their size.”
Playing the game during the middle of the day just might be what the doctor ordered. It’s hard to imagine the big lineman of Sweetwater finding it easy to last four quarters without visably getting worn down. Last year, the two teams faced off in Week One and the Red Devils walked away with a 19-0 shutout. This time around the speed of the Eagles’ youth movement has what it takes to pull off somewhat of an upset, but it definitely wont be easy….Santa Fe Christian 14, Sweetwater 13.
Instituto Mexico (Tijuana) (0-0) vs BISHOP’S (0-0) @ Mater Dei HS – 7
There’s no possible way to top the season the Knights had last year. They marched through the season stomping down everything that got in their way and return 7 All-Coastal League selections off a squad that won a C.I.F. title. I guess you could say the only thing that stopped them was in the end was bad luck as they were overlooked for the state playoffs.
All-world “Flyin Hawaiin” BULLA GRAFT graduated after giving us four years of highlight after highlight. His special talent will surely be missed as his ended his career unanimously being named the league “Offensive Player of the Year” a year ago. Senior defensive end CYRUS NOLAN took home the home the award on the defense, but those are the only two studs Bishop’s need to replace this season as farfetched as that sounds.
“There’s no way to replace what Bulla meant to this team on the field and in the locker room,” said head coach JOEL ALLEN now in his seventh season and is all of the sudden the longest tenured coach in the Coastal League. “I’m really excited to see who will step up in their place and take over as the leaders this year.”
If there were preseason awards handed out the odds on favorite to win player of the year would be sophomore MOZES MOONEY on offense and junior DANIEL ANDERSON on defense. Mooney might be the county’s best kept secret and is due for a breakout year. His 16 touchdowns (14 rec, 2 pass) last season were the quietest scores any freshman could ever have. Anderson is just quite simply a beast on the line both ways. The Knights’ line coach raved about him from day one and their isn’t a team in the entire county that he wouldn’t start on.
Life without Bulla won’t be so bad in Week One unless there’s something in the Tijuana water that we’re not aware of. To put it bluntly, que no tienen ninguna posibilidad de ganar, which translates to they don’t have a chance of winning….Bishop’s 40, Instituto Mexico 13.
Nuview Bridge (0-0) vs FRANCIS PARKER (0-0) – 7
Not much is known about the Knights from Nuevo, but then again the same could be said about the Lancers this year. One thing we do know for sure is that for the third straight year a rookie head coach will be taking over for a legend. DJ WALCOTT spent seven years as an assistant coach and coordinator, but is now the man for Parker after replacing JOHN MORRISON.
“DJ is going to do a great job,” Morrison said of his heir on the throne. “He’s great with the kids and has a brilliant football mind so I think we’ll be in good hands.”
It’s not easy to replace what the Lancers had at the skill positions last year, so it’s a real wait and see attitude at this point. Not only do they have to replace each one of them, but they also have to replace their coach. It may take some time and it won’t be easy so for the first half of the season nobody really knows what to expect. I’m literally flipping a coin and it came up….Francis Parker 20, Nuview 17.
CETYS (Tijuana) vs HORIZON (0-0) @ San Diego HS – 7
The Panthers are faced with trying to find an answer at quarterback after their last one led all of San Diego county in passing last season last year. They will still be running the exciting high-wire act on offense, but will need to improve drastically on defense to challenge for a title and with a miniscule roster size it won’t be easy.
Two sport star OSCAR CORDOVA looks to fill that void at QB and DANTE FANUCCHI is a flat out stud of a linebacker. Other than the Panthers have more questions than answers, but their coaching staff has gotten pretty good at adapting to any situation.
“It doesn’t matter who is out there on the field for us,” head coach LAMONT BUTLER said. “This team is big and athletic and love to pressure and blitz you. If we don’t tackle and be physical we’re not going to have a chance.”
It may be tough for Cordova to transition into the quarterback role at first, but the last thing you want to do against Horizon’s spread attack is blitz them, leaving hot reads all over the field that could result in touchdowns on any play. It may take a while for the Panthers to find their rhythm this year, but I don’t think the stumble out of the gates….Horizon 31, CETYS 20.
Southwest (El Centro) vs CORONADO (0-0) – 7
Once again, in a rematch of two teams opened up the season last year against one another, this rings the same bell. The game last season was a thrilling 37-34 Islanders’ win, but they lost quarterback IAN THORLEIFSON and the team took on a whole new identity.
There are a lot of better things to do on a Friday night in Coronado than to play football and that’s exactly how it feels sometimes when you watch them play. If they start the season strong everyone gets behind them, but start out not so hot and the Strand gets more attendance on a Friday night. I guess expecting fair-weather in Coronado isn’t much of a reach.
Senior running back CHRISTOPHER HAAS is someone to keep your eyes on this season. He’s a do-it-all player and raised some eyebrows in their scrimmage against La Jolla Country Day. The early season schedule is a walk on the beach and if they can jump this first hurdle a 4-0 looks like a check-mark. In this race I’m passing the baton to….Coronado 27, Southwest 17.
Last Week: 2-0 (1.000)
Season: 56-13 (.812)
Chula Vista (12/4/2014) – Forget everything you’ve read about Bishop’s this season and riddle me this…
“How can a small school dominate every single team on it’s schedule, have the potential player of the year on their roster, be undefeated with a San Diego C.I.F. Championship under their belt and not be invited to the state playoffs?!?!”
That’s exactly the reality that Bishop’s just might be facing, but first they have to beat Mater Dei in the Division IV title game Friday afternoon at Southwestern College. The Crusaders (8-5) might be the more motivated team, trying to avenge their 38-21 loss in Week 5, but this year’s Knights (12-0) are on a different level.
They learned first-hand in their last matchup – you can’t stop BULLA GRAFT, you can only hope to contain him – as he rushed for 171 yards on 14 carries. What they don’t realize is that if you focus on taking him out of the game…it can still be a long Knight.
Quarterback GRIFFIN SEAMAN has come into his own this season, throwing for 35 touchdowns and a lot of his proceeds went to MOZES MOONEY. The super-frosh nonchalantly reeled in 59 passes for just under 700 yards and 12 TD’s. Then there’s the speedster running back A.J. BRITANICO that averaged 10.7 yards per carry and had 8 scores along with 1071 rushing yards as their second running option.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on their defense. Trying to gain yards on them is like trying to put a circle peg through a square hole because those holes in their defense are non-existent.
Led by the Coastal League defensive player of the year — CYRUS NOLAN — the defensive line is a Top 10 unit in the entire county along with the help of sophomore DANIEL ANDERSON and BLAKE DORVILLIER. Linebacker JUSTIN WOODLEY is ridiculously good for a sophomore and Mooney, Graft and JACK CASE lead the secondary that can shut down any passing team (just ask 3,000+ plus yard QB Collin Rugg of La Jolla – who they beat 42-7).
It makes zero sense that MaxPreps is currently slotting them into the Division II pool for the state playoffs alongside El Capitan, when they play in Division IV locally. It would be a travesty if Friday’s title game is the last game they play this year. Obviously, all of that talk is out of their hands and they have to take care of business on the field first, but this is a team that has made a point of proving themselves over-and-over again this year. Don’t expect anything less at the most crucial time….Bishop’s 42-13.
Oceanside 34, Helix 31
St. Augustine 28, Madison 27
El Capitan 42, Rancho Bernardo 24
Hoover 35, Christian 27
Last Week: 5-0 (1.000)
Season: 54-13 (.806)
Chula Vista (11/27/2014) – There’s plenty of reasons why there should be an overload of confidence on the La Jolla Country Day (6-6) campus about the Torreys winning Friday night’s San Diego C.I.F. Division V Championship game against Vincent Memorial (8-3) at Southwestern College and for good reason in this week’s “Coastal Sports Game of the Week.”
Having gone on the road the last two weeks and taken down a pair of higher seeded teams in Maranatha Christian (No. 4) and Holtville (No. 1), they are feeling sky-high. In fact, the last six times they have faced the Scots over the past seven years, they haven’t lost a single game.
There inlays the problem….
All hopes and egos need to exit stage left after being so highly praised the last two weeks and that’s easier said than done when you’re dealing with a very young roster with no true, BIG-game experience.
“The seniors have done a great job of molding this young team together,” said Torreys’ rookie head coach TYLER HALES. “If you need any extra motivation or guidance at this point of the playoffs you don’t belong in this sport. As long as we take care of the football, I like our chances.”
There’s too many players on the LJCD roster playing insanely good in the playoffs to name them all. However – no matter how good they are athletically – they need to be more mentally prepared than ever before if they want to win a ring. I give the Scots a puncher’s chance of winning, but in the end, they will probably resemble Michael Scott more than the champions….La Jolla Country Day 38-28.
DIVISION IV – Semifinals
(3) Castle Park (8-3) vs. (1) BISHOP’S (11-0)
@ La Jolla HS – 7
Many believe this is where the road of the Div. IV playoffs gets rough and will begin to test the Knights’ legitimacy as an undefeated power. Those people would also jump off a bridge if all their friends were doing it.
The Trojans’ season has been a roller coaster ride ever since their best three players were suspended for 3 games after a scuffle with Santana in the closing minutes early in the season.
Just to put it nicely…they need to bring a gun to a Knight fight this week to have any shot of an upset.
Bishop’s head coach JOEL ALLEN had a multitude of reasons to be thankful on Turkey day, but 30 of those consisted of his roster that is looking to carve up the Division IV field into pieces on their way to a title.
Having a bye week to start the playoffs, before the bye week that was El Cajon Valley last week (62-0), the Knights are primed and are really just looking for a team that can make things interesting against them.
At their disposal is a very well-rested Coastal League “Player of the Year” in BULLA GRAFT, who hasn’t needed to be involved lately for them to still dominate, winning their last four games by a total of 188-13.
Enough said….Bishop’s 42-13.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
BULLA GRAFT – BISHOP’S (SR)
1ST TEAM OFFENSE
QB – JOSH GAUDET – HORIZON (SR)
RB – BULLA GRAFT – BISHOP’S (SR)
RB – BENTON WEEKS – SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (SR)
RB – A. J. BRITANICO – BISHOP’S (JR)
WR – ANTHONY OSEGUERA – HORIZON (SR)
WR – MOZES MOONEY – BISHOP’S (FR)
OL – TOMMY BANCROFT – FRANCIS PARKER (SR)
OL – BEN HAMEL – SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (SR)
OL – GREG COFFMAN – LA JOLLA COUNTRY DAY (SR)
OL – BLAKE DORVILLIER – BISHOP’S (SR)
OL – MAX GARDNER – SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (SR)
K – JAKE BAILEY – SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (SR)
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
CYRUS NOLAN – BISHOP’S (SR)
1ST TEAM DEFENSE
DL – KYLE BRUNS – SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (SR)
DL – CYRUS NOLAN – BISHOP’S (SR)
DL – MATT WEI – FRANCIS PARKER (SR)
DL – DANIEL ANDERSON – BISHOP’S (SO)
LB – DAVID TRAGANZA – FRANCIS PARKER (SR)
LB – SAM RAY – SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (SR)
LB – JUSTIN WOODLEY – BISHOP’S (SO)
DB – CARTER ROBERTS – SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (SR)
DB – KHALEEL JENKINS – FRANCIS PARKER (SR)
DB – DAVEN HORNE – FRANCIS PARKER (SR)
DB – BRENNAN GORING – LA JOLLA COUNTRY DAY (SO)
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JAKE BAILEY – SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (SR)
2ND TEAM OFFENSE
QB – BRAXTON BURMEISTER – LA JOLLA COUNTRY DAY (SO)
RB – JORDAN GENMARK-HEATH – FRANCIS PARKER (SO)
RB – KEVIN LONEY – SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (SO)
WR – DARIEN BROWN – LA JOLLA COUNTRY DAY (SR)
WR – OSCAR CORDOVA – HORIZON (JR)
WR – CHRISTIAN ARLINGTON – HORIZON (JR)
OL – ZACH REINER – SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (SR)
OL – SAHIL SHETH – BISHOP’S (JR)
OL – ADAM BILMES – BISHOP’S (SR)
OL – ROBBIE GIANNELLA – FRANCIS PARKER (SR)
OL – IZAIAH POUTOA – LA JOLLA COUNTRY DAY (JR)
2ND TEAM DEFENSE
DL – GAVIN DILL – SANTA FE CHRISTAIN (SO)
DL – CASEY MARIUCCI – LA JOLLA COUNTRY DAY (SO)
DL – LARRY MILLER – HORIZON (SR)
DL – CESAR SANTANA – BISHOP’S (SO)
LB – CHRIS HERMES – SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (SR)
LB – CODY GALVAN – LA JOLLA COUNTRY DAY (SR)
LB – COLE GOLDKLANG – LA JOLLA COUNTRY DAY (SR)
DB – KEVIN RODIN – FRANCIS PARKER (SR)
DB – CHRISTIAN SOURAPAS – FRANCIS PARKER (SR)
DB – JACK CASE – BISHOP’S (JR)
DB – CALEB PHILLIPS – SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (SO)
Last Week: 3-2 (.600)
Season: 49-13 (.791)
Holtville (11/20/2014) – Perhaps no team was more under-seeded than La Jolla Country Day (5-6) in the San Diego C.I.F. Section Playoffs. Having only 8 teams in Division V it will be the Semi-Finals round when play finally commences Friday night. Their long bus ride to No. 1 seeded Holtville (8-3) on the 8 East with a trip to the Championship Game next week on the line qualifies them for this week’s “Coastal Sports Game of the Week.”
“They are definitely bigger than us and are just going to try to jam it down our throats,” said head coach TYLER HALES. “The long bus ride kinda scares me, but our team is so well knit together, it could actually be a fun trip because we’ll probably watch a comedy to keep everyone lose and laughing.”
When it’s time to finally step onto the field it’s going to be no laughing matter. The Vikings’ veer offense earned the top-seed for a reason, but for what my opinion is worth (which is nothing), LJCD is a better team and unless they shoot themselves in the foot too many times, they should keep their season alive with a chance at a ring next week….La Jolla Country Day 34-26.
(9) FRANCIS PARKER (6-5) vs. (1) Hoover (8-2) – 7
Back in the mid-90’s Northwestern head coach Gary Barnett was once asked about how he was sleeping during the week he was about to play a powerhouse Michigan.
“I’m sleeping like a baby,” he said about facing a team that was captained by the future Heisman winning Charles Woodson. “I wake up every two or three hours and then cry myself back to sleep.”
In his 29th season as the Lancers head coach, JOHN MORRISON has seen it all and has the same tone when it comes to facing Hoover…
“It’s no fun trying to game plan against a team with so much speed,” he admitted. “If they don’t have the best defense in the county every year, they’re close to it.”
Having met in Week 2, the two teams are familiar with each other. That game resulted in a 26-0 Cardinals win, but that Parker team is thing of ancient history. Now – at the right tight time – they are playing their best ball of the season and have a real shot of taking down the No. 1 seed.
“We played horrible in that first game and we were only down 10-0 at the half,” Morrison added. “So we definitely have had a glass half full attitude and we’ve had a great week of practice, so anything can happen.”
It’s going to take everything Parker has to pull this one out. As great as KHALEEL JENKINS and JORDAN GENMARK-HEATH played last week, they are going to have to be even more spectacular. That’s asking an awful lot, but if any duo can pull that off, it’s them. Until they prove that the small advantage goes to….Hoover 14-13.
(10) LA JOLLA (6-5) vs. (2) CHRISTIAN (10-0)
@ Granite Hills HS – 7
Most people believe that this will be a really close game, but few have followed the Vikings’ season close enough to realize that they have a knack for coming up just a bit short in games they really have a shot in. However, I wouldn’t exactly say they really have a shot against Adrian Petty and the Patriots.
Sure, COLLIN RUGG and Co. can sling the ball all over the field, but they fell to Bishop’s 42-7 early in the year. The small school they are facing this week in the quarterfinals is just as good, if not better. Everyone is expecting a close game, but I’m not….Christian 49-13.
(8) El Cajon Valley (3-8) vs. (1) BISHOP’S (10-0)
@ La Jolla HS – 7
The Braves have a pair of good athletes with Matthew Shearin at running back and quarterback Meriton Hasani. That’s nice and cute when you face a 9-seed, but thanks to a lone Knight, it’s going to be an absolute nightmare for El Cajon Valley trying to keep BULLA GRAFT down.
Only trying to contain him makes you not want to wake up at all because it’s impossible. The Knights are much more than a one-trick pony though. They have talent at every position on the field and the coach staff led by JOEL ALLEN gets the most out of every single one of them. As long as they don’t take any opponent lightly, they should cruise on a C.I.F. Championship run. Expect this to be a small bump in the road on the way….Bishop’s 49-7.
(11) CORONADO (4-7) vs. (3) Central (6-4) – 7
After losing seven straight games, the Islanders finally go back on the winning track last week, but they earned themselves a trip to El Centro in the process. Central is much better than the Orange Glen team they took down last week and that’s why it’s….Central 31-7.
By Andrew Smith
La Jolla (11/19/2014) – Who’s the best player you’ve seen play this year? Is there anyone out there that doesn’t surprise you anymore? If you started a fantasy team among all of the San Diego schools and had the first overall pick…who would it be?
Long before Bishop’s senior captain BULLA GRAFT ever stepped onto the football field, he was already used to fame and the spotlight…whether he liked it or not. As a little leaguer, he played in front of a bunch of small crowds until he led his Park View Little League team to a World Championship in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Fast forward five years and more than 6,000 all-purpose yards later — as a running back/kick returner/safety — and the attention may not always be wanted, but it’s definitely deserved.
For my money, being named the Coastal League “Player of the Year” was more than deserved, but it wasn’t enough. I argued my tail off for him in the season-ending C.I.F. panel with a bunch of unbiased judges, but if there is any justice in the world, the people who run KUSI’s Prep Pigskin Report will also recognize the greatness we’ve been fortunate to have seen the last four years.
He led the undefeated Knights (10-0) to a perfect season and will open up the San Diego Section C.I.F. Playoffs as heavy favorites to run the table in Division IV. They are more than capable of a another deep run – ending in a State Bowl Championship win – just like their 2010 team.
As a member of the media, it’s been kinda hard to hold back enthusiasm and praise for a kid that deserves so much, yet wants so little. He’s a man of few words, but much like a lot of great team leaders, when he finally does open up for an interview or he’s talking to his teammates, everyone around shuts up and listens to every single syllable that comes out of his mouth.
“Size doesn’t really matter in high school,” his head coach JOEL ALLEN stated of his five-foot-eight senior that’s pound-for-pound the best player he’s ever coached. “He has over 100 tackles on defense and if we needed him to run the ball more, his numbers would be ridiculous!”
Nicknamed by the Bishop’s PA announcer as the “Flying Hawaiian” whenever he has a big gain on offense because of his family background, but he will also yell out “Bulla, Bulla, Bulla!” when he makes one of his game-changing plays on special teams or defense.
Many can say they model their game after the great Barry Sanders, but when you see his shiftiness and ability to make defenders look as silly as he does, it really does ring a bell. Maybe the fact that Sanders was viewed as an undersized player as well makes it all the more sweeter, but no one has sweeter moves than Graft.
“If he was 3 inches taller he’d be one of the top recruits in the country,” said rival Francis Parker head coach JOHN MORRISON. “I have nothing but the utmost respect for Bulla and what he’s done for Joel over the last 4 years.”
My very first glimpse of the Silver Pigskin finalist was at a practice on their La Jolla campus before the beginning of his sophomore season. He joked with a team that wrapped him up in a non-contact drill that if he tried that again it would be a fictitious six points on the practice scoreboard. Even then he didn’t disappoint, as he put one move on the defender the next play and was gone by a mile.
As a sophomore, he had 2,069 all-purpose yards and 18 touchdowns. His junior year, Allen tried to limit his touches, but he still managed 175 yards a game in 10 games played and this season he sits at a whopping 2,233 total yards and still has a handful of playoff games left to play.
“I think he averaged 80 yards a carry against us so I’m very excited to see that he’s finally graduating,” La Jolla Country Day head coach TYLER HALES said jokingly. “He’s so dangerous on any play, that in my four years playing against him we never punted it to him once. He’s just a special player, an absolute beast and I think he gave my beard a lot of its gray hairs trying to game plan against him.”
In his senior year, not only did he lead the Knights to a perfect 10-0 record with 34 touchdowns (21 rush, 12 rec, 1 KR), but he was also the quarterback of a defense that was one of the best in town.
He played as a freshman at 120 pounds, but since has put on 40-50 pounds (a lot of it muscle) and has even garnished the praise of “being a bully” at his safety position from some of the media members that have been covering high school football for years.
Oh yeah…there’s also that small little fact that he’s an All-Coastal League baseball talent that led his little league team to a world championship as a little leaguer and will have success wherever he decided to go to college no matter what sport he chooses.
It was an absolute pleasure covering and getting to know “Bulla! Bulla! Bulla!” the last four years. My vote, like I said, is 100% completely unbiased towards him winning any and all post-season accolades.
It really comes down to a few simple questions you have to ask yourself…
When was the last time you heard a player score 4 TD’s in a game and shrugged it off like it was nothing?
How many times have you been at the game and then seen one of his highlights on KUSI’s Prep Pigskin Report and think to yourself that was his third or fourth best play of the night?
Have you ever heard of a player emulating Barry Sanders’ game and then coming awfully close to looking just like him?
If you answered “Yes, Yes, No” then you’ve won the jackpot, just like Coach Allen did four years ago when Graft stepped on to the La Jolla campus. No one else out there this year can come close to matching his flair or pizazz. That’s why he’s gotten my vote and will definitely earn the vote of anyone else that has gotten the blessing of seeing him play any of the last four years.
Last Week: 5-0 (1.000)
Season: 46-11 (.807)
Spring Valley (11/13/2014) – In the early part of the season, Francis Parker (5-5) went up against a pair of much bigger schools from the East County, beating Santana and losing to Valhalla. Friday night at 7 they will get their third crack at a Grossmont League school when they take on the 8-seed Monte Vista (6-4) to open up the San Diego C.I.F. Division III playoffs in the “Coastal Sports Game of the Week.”
Monarchs’ head coach Ron Hamamoto has had success at every stop during his career. He won a championship at Cathedral, led Monte Vista to the DIV title game last year (a 7-0 loss to Sweetwater) in only his second year at the helm and even posted a C.I.F. record 698 rushing yards against West Hills in 1999 as the coach of Rancho Bernardo.
They don’t do anything to blow your socks off. It’s a wing offense they use, exploiting their athletes speed and have a very physical defense. But don’t fall asleep on them. As a play caller, he has a very diabolical mind and seems to always knows when to use those tricks up his sleeve, which has made him so successful over the years.
The closest offense the Lancers have seen this season would be Santa Fe Christian’s and they didn’t have much success stopping them. Granted, the week before they were so banged up they had to cancel their game versus Morse, so they were without a lot of their main cogs on the field.
Now, as healthy as they’re gonna be, they are coming off of their best offensive performance of the season posting 58 points against Horizon. Quarterback KHALEEL JENKINS ran wild with 231 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns. DAVEN HORNE (15-113-1) and MATT WEI (13-60-1) were also culprits in the 405 yard rushing explosion.
Points and yards will be a lot harder to come by this week as they are facing a defense almost as fast as Hoover’s and the Cardinals shut them out 26-0. The good news for Parker though, is they did all that damage without JORDAN GENMARK-HEATH and expect him back in the lineup. As a sophomore, he can change a game at anytime, whether it’s on offense or defense.
“This is a typical 8-9 matchup,” said Lancers’ head coach JOHN MORRISON. “They’re not very big, but have a lot of team speed. We have a growing confidence from last week, but we need to find a way to generate points.”
Believe it or not, I think this game will be won or lost through the air. The teams that have had success against Monte Vista all had an offense with the ability to move the ball with a passing game. Even in last year’s semifinal game against La Jolla, the Monarchs jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead and then gave up over 300 yards through the air in the second half, barely hanging on to win.
Ideally, the Lancers would like to have a 50-50 split of run-pass, but their touches on offense will be limited by basically it being a running clock whenever Monte Vista has the ball. So put the ball in Jenkins’ hands with high percentage passes and let the skill guys (especially Genmark-Heath) uses their skills. They accomplish that, they get the upset….Francis Parker 21-20.
(10) LA JOLLA (5-5) vs. (7) SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (5-5)
@ Torrey Pines HS – 7
Man oh man have things sure changed since these two teams matched up last year. Let’s take a trip down memory lane…it was Week 4 and Vikings’ head coach JASON CARTER was in the middle of installing his high-speed, spread system to quarterback COLLIN RUGG and Co.
The Eagles took the opening kickoff to the house and never looked back, winning that one 66-34. Rugg threw for 353 yards and two interceptions, but CARTER ROBERTS threw 3 touchdowns against no picks, managing the offense beautifully.
This year, Santa Fe Christian would die for a 66-point outburst against a school the size of La Jolla. In their 5 wins they have averaged 36 points, but in the 5 losses they give up 32 points a game.
Rugg has averaged 309 yards game through the air and thrown 33 touchdowns. He helped the Vikings score at least 30 points in 8 of their 10 games this season and has done it against the likes of Fallbrook, Point Loma and Madison.
Teams that can throw the ball have had success against the Santa Fe secondary, but all they need to do is put in the tape of the Bishop’s-La Jolla game in Week 2 to come up with the perfect game plan and stopping Rugg and Co.
The Eagles are short-handed with injuries and have a lot of sophomores starting on both sides of the ball. JAKE BAILEY is their best athlete, but with his future at Stanford in mind, he is only been able to take care of the kicking duties and he’s probably the best you’ve ever seen at that.
Running back BENTON WEEKS has been a bright spot. As soon as league started it was like a light switch came on in his head and he hit the holes harder and quicker than ever before. He looked like an athlete just put at that position and then finally learned how to play it like a real runner.
This one is tough. You know the coaching staff at SFC will have the Eagles’ defense ready to face Rugg, but as he has shown, it’s hard to keep him down. If they can hold him in check and win the turnover battle they have a shot. La Jolla is pronominally known for giving up big first halves and falling into huge halftime holes, but it just doesn’t seem that the SFC offense is capable of taking advantage of that….La Jolla 34-20.
(9) HORIZON (5-5) vs. (8) El Cajon Valley (2-8) – 7
The Braves have a pair of good athletes with Matthew Shearin at running back and quarterback Meriton Hasani. Both have been awarded this season with the label of East County Sports “Player of the Week” honors, but ECV is rather thin once you get past the two of them.
Horizon’s defense has to play well for them to win. In the last four weeks of Coastal League play, the Panthers surrendered 210 points. Playing in the Grossmont Valley League, the Braves have seen teams a lot bigger than the Panthers and have had some success scoring points against them. They also hung around with 6-seeded Orange Glen for one half before succumbing 41-20 in Week 6.
Quarterback JOSH GAUDET should have success throwing the ball, just like he’s had all year, so no one doubts that they will score their points. ANTHONY OSEGURA, CHRISTIAN ARLINGTON, AARON WILLIS and OSCAR CORDOVA are the best quartet of receivers in the county.
“We all just need to be in the right place at the right time,” Horizon head coach LAMONT BUTLER explained. “We’ve had our best week of practice all season long and I like our chances a lot offensively.”
This game rests solely on the shoulders of the Panthers’ defense. Good thing ECV isn’t much of an offensive juggernaut, but they have the athletes in place to make them look like one if you let them. Their success mid-season against a softer schedule shows that they can win against teams they are better than and that earns them the faith….Horizon 41-31.
(11) CORONADO (3-7) vs. (6) Orange Glen (6-4) – 7
The Islanders are losers of seven straight and outside of a 10-7 loss to Clairemont it hasn’t even been close. The Patriots went win-less in the tough Valley League, but given the competition they didn’t roll over and play dead. Waiting to finally get back on the winning track don’t expect out of this one….Orange Glen 28-13.
(5) LA JOLLA COUNTRY DAY (4-6) vs. (4) Maranthana Christian (7-2) – 7
In no other division are the teams as close to each other, despite the seedings, than Division V. Without looking at the teams records, there is no such thing as an upset, because 8 can easily beat 1 and so on. True the Eagles sit at 7-2, but don’t go start tweeting about it.
Speaking of Twitter, LJCD quarterback BRAXTON BURMEISTER (@braxtonburmeist) officially committed to the University of Arizona on Thursday. Along with baseball players – KEATON WEISZ and ALFONSO RIVAS – he will be the third Torrey headed to Tucson to continue his collegiate career.
First things first, the sophomore will try to lead the Torreys to a Division V title. He shouldn’t have a problem moving the ball, but the drives on offense have to turn into points. If LJCD can’t take care of the football it could easily be an early exit stage left even if they are the better team.
“I think our schedule of playing in the Coastal League will be a huge advantage for us,” stated La Jolla Country Day head coach TYLER HALES before coaching in his first playoff game. “We have our goals set really high, but we still can’t overlook anyone.”
If they play without turning the ball over, this is a no-brainer. However, for whatever reason, the Torreys like to make things more difficult for themselves than it really should be. They give the Eagles any kind of life and the will regret it, but you not in the Ocean League anymore and clicking your heels three times won’t send you home because your season will be over….La Jolla Country Day 41-24.
Last Week: 3-0 (1.000)
Season: 41-11 (.789)
Mira Mesa (11/6/2014) – The final week of the regular season is upon us and with it comes one of the more intriguing matchups in the Coastal league. Francis Parker and Horizon are finishing up the season playing at Mira Mesa High and it should be a very entertaining game, making it our “Coastal Sports Game of the Week.”
Sure the Panthers (5-4, 1-2 Coastal League) would have liked to make more noise in league play, having only one notch in their belt, but it’s hard to imagine them having any more success statistically than they have. Quarterback JOSH GAUDET leads the county with 3,023 yards passing and 32 touchdown passes. His receivers ANTHONY OSEGUERA (72 rec, 1,276 yds, 15 TD) and CHRISTIAN ARLINGTON (48 rec, 912 yds, 10 TD) are ranked first and fourth respectively.
Francis Parker (4-5, 1-2 CL) is probably the best team in the county that is currently under .500. Injuries all over the field have riddled their season just one year after skating through the regular season with a loss. The good news is they have KHALEEL JENKINS healthy. He’s threat to score every time they touch the ball and should have success this week after being bottled up last week by Bishop’s. One crucial question is the status of JORDAN GENMARK-HEATH. The Lancers’ offense is Jekyll-and-Hyde with and without him.
No matter who wins, it should be a very entertaining contest. Points definitely won’t be at a premium and the scoreboard operator will be suggested to do some finger calisthenics before kickoff to avoid injury. When the dust finally settles, the outcome will look something like….Francis Parker 41-33.
BISHOP’S (9-0, 3-0) vs. LA JOLLA COUNTRY DAY (4-5, 0-3) – 7
The Knights have one last obstacle to hurdle in order to finish the regular season undefeated and claim the Coastal League crown all to themselves. It’s going to be senior night on the La Jolla campus and the Torreys are looking to play the role of spoiler.
Last week, La Jolla Country Day gave Santa Fe Christian all they could handle and almost left Solana Beach with a victory, but their comeback came up just short. Meanwhile, Bishop’s had little trouble keeping their focus on the mission at hand as they cruised past a Francis Parker team that buried the Torreys 45-16, just two weeks prior.
If anyone has the ability to pull off the huge upset it’s sophomore BRAXTON BURMEISTER. There’s a reason that, as a sophomore, he’s already received offers from the likes of schools the University of Arizona. As he proved against the Eagles last week, he know how to keep his composure in the pocket, scramble when he needs to, place passes where only his man can get it and has a natural ability to throw on the run.
No team has improved from Week 1 to now as much as LJCD and that’s obviously expected when 17 of your 22 starters are sophomores, but in their two years of experience, they haven’t faced a defense as good as this one.
It’s been said before and I’ll say it again that they don’t have a single weakness on the entire unit. Sophomore DANIEL ANDERSON anchors a solid D-Line and JUSTIN WOODLEY is having an outstanding season, as well as the rest of the linebackers. If you manage to get past their front seven you get the pleasure of dealing with BULLA GRAFT at safety and MOZES MOONEY is showing the potential to be a lock-down corner and he only a freshman.
Oh yeah, then you have to deal with them all on offense too. Only seeing limited snaps last year, quarterback GRIFFIN SEAMAN, is a hands down favorite to win the Coastal League’s “Most Improved” award at season’s end. There’s a chance that La Jolla Country Day could trip up the champs, but the Knights’ coaches know that and do too well of a job prepping their team to have them unfocused in the finale….Bishop’s 42-13.
SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (5-4) vs #8 Christian (9-0)
@ Granite Hills HS – 4
Usually whenever these two teams meet up, it’s a game you don’t want to miss it. However, the Eagles picked the wrong year to end their regular season schedule with the Patriots. Coming off a C.I.F. Division III Championship last year, they are unblemished this season and winners of 16 straight, including 21 of their last 22.
Making matters even worse…they didn’t rebuild this season, they reloaded. You could even make a really strong case that this year’s team is even more talented than the previous title team, outscoring their opponents 53-10 and have only committed one turnover all year.
Their offense is explosive, led by running back Adrian Petty, who is averaging 14.4 yards per carry and 156.5 yds/game. Those stats are somewhat skewed since they rarely plays a full game, as the Patriots are used to a running clock, he has less than 9 carries a contest. David Todd Jeremiah is the signal caller and comes from a long line of QB’s in his family tree. All he’s done in his first year at the helm, is throw 22 touchdowns to only one interception.
This is the type of game that Christian wants to make a statement in. They are by far the best team in Division III this year, but are currently projected as a two seed behind Hoover. Since every game in the final week of the season must be played on Friday to accommodate the C.I.F. Playoff seeding committee on Saturday, there’s an early 4 o’clock start, as Granite Hills faces Santana in the nightcap. By the end of the game expect their message to the rest of DIII schools to be delivered loud and clear….Christian 49-10.
Mission Bay (3-6) vs. CORONADO (3-6) – 6:30
The promise of this season was at a premium early in the season after the Islanders had won their first three games. Such enthusiasm around the island has since been lost. They have spiraled out of control ever since as they have lost the last six games, but they have a chance to possibly sneak into the playoffs with a win. That’s easier said than done….Mission Bay 20-13.
Kearny (0-9, 0-3) vs. LA JOLLA (5-4, 2-1) – 6:30
The regular season finale for the Vikings won’t be much of a competitive game as the win-less Komets have been outscored by an average of 42-6. This should be a great opportunity for COLLIN RUGG and Co. to get some extra reps in preparation for the playoffs….La Jolla 55-0.
Last Week: 3-1 (.750)
Season: 38-11 (.776)
La Jolla (10/30/2014) – With two games left, Bishop’s (8-0, 2-0 Coastal League) is on the verge of running the table and having a perfect regular season. They have already locked up the No. 1 seed in the San Diego C.I.F. Playoffs for Division IV and are one win away from clinching at least a tie of this year’s Coastal League crown.
Coming off of their own perfect season last year, Francis Parker (4-4, 1-1 CL), is standing in their way of that this week. By now, everyone has heard about the Lancers unpredictable wild ride of a season, but don’t expect them to just give up the title laying down. That buildup is what makes Saturday night’s game the “Coastal Sports Game of the Week.”
Coming off a bye, that the Lancers team could use probably more than anyone else in the county, they know what they are up against. They were given the opportunity of watching Bishop’s dominate on the road against a Santa Fe Christian squad that beat them 27-7 at home.
It’s no secret that they are two totally different teams with and without sophomore stud JORDAN GENMARK-HEATH on the field. Also with the help of running back DAVEN HORNE in the lineup, dual-threat QB KHALEEL JENKINS has a lot of pressure taken off him to make every play by himself.
The one thing Parker has working in their advantage is that they faced a bunch of really big and talented schools in the non-league schedule, so they know they can play and hang around with anyone.
But there is something different about this Bishop’s team. They are playing on a level right now that doesn’t look like they will have that “slip-up” game. After years of being on the cusp of great, now it’s their time and this group looks as determined as ever to make that a reality and that’s why they get the vote of confidence….Bishop’s 31-20.
LA JOLLA COUNTRY DAY (4-4, 0-2) vs. SANTA FE CHRISTIAN (4-4, 2-1) Saturday – 2
These two teams are coming off a pair of very disappointing games and both are looking to rebound in a big way. Homecoming for the Torreys was nothing like they thought it would be and the Eagles probably had their worst game of the year, at the worst time.
Both of their rosters are loaded with sophomore talent. In fact, they very well could be playing for a league title against each other in the near future. As of now though, La Jolla Country Day runs an offense very similar to Horizon. Although the Eagles struggled a little bit in the secondary their offense didn’t punt once.
That’s going to be the struggle for the Torreys is to be able not only to match SFC point-for-point, but stop them enough times to pull out the upset. Last season they spotted them 55 points. I know the Eagles offense isn’t as potent as a year ago, but something about their scheme always seems to give them fits and that’s why it’s….Santa Fe Christian 37-24.
Madison (5-3, 2-0) vs. LA JOLLA (4-4, 1-1) – 6:30
This year the Vikings have made a habit of beating the really bad teams and falling behind big against the good ones. Then they stage a huge comeback only to come up just a bit short in the end. Consider the latter in this one….Madison 41-27.
Last Week: 3-2 (.600)
Season: 35-10 (.778)
Solana Beach (10/23/2014) – If people around the county that don’t pay attention to football played by small schools or don’t know much about the Coastal League, Saturday’s game between Bishop’s (7-0, 1-0 Coastal League) and Santa Fe Christian (4-3, 2-0 CL) would blow their minds. The level of competition and the talent on the field would be a complete shock to them. For those that DO know about it they know why it’s easily considered as this week’s “Coastal Sports Game of the Week.”
Even the casual San Diego high school football fan knows about Bishop’s star BULLA GRAFT by now and for good reason. What they might not know about the Knights is that they are one of the most complete teams in the county. There’s not a single position on the field that’s a weakness.
The biggest improvement by far from last year’s squad has to bring a smile to their head coach’s JOEL ALLEN face. As a former C.I.F. Championship winning quarterback, the signal caller loves the fact he has a passing game that complements the ground game. The biggest difference in that is the combo of junior quarterback GRIFFIN SEAMAN to freshman wide out MOSES MOONEY.
Last season in limited play, Seaman had a 1:1 touchdown to interception ratio, while completed 44% of his passes. This year with the help of Mooney, those numbers have both jumped up 3:1 (22 TD-7 INT) and a 63% completion percentage.
The Eagles are winners of four straight after a tough non-league schedule and are playing their best football of the season. On top of that, they are almost completely injury free, which is a rarity for a small school this late in the season. The fact that they have both MAX GARDNER and BEN HAMEL both playing on their OL/DL is a scary thought for any opponent.
The offense has been running through BENTON WEEKS since league play has started and the running back hasn’t disappointed. The senior has rushed for 327 yards and 3 scores in the last two games, but is only one of two players from last year’s team that touched the ball in last year’s 37-28 win over the Knights.
Not much else can be taken away from last year’s matchup. This is a completely different SFC team than a year ago and many believe this is Bishop’s year to run the Coastal League. Some even vote them into the Union Tribune’s Top 10 poll.
Last year, the Knights were just on the cusp of taking down the big boys that finished 1-2 (Parker-SFC) respectively. They played each of them toe-to-toe for the first half before falling behind and eventually running out of gas. Now, the shoe is on the other foot and they will be favored in each of their last three games.
The Eagles are currently ranked #7 in the Southern California Bowl Rankings for Division IV on MaxPreps. They have a couple of chances to make a huge move to the top of the lists by winning this week and in their regular season finale over Christian, who is currently ranked #1.
All that is way down the road for Santa Fe Christian. This week, they face a big hurdle and it’s not quite clear if they how high they can jump. Even with all of the distractions that come along with homecoming, Horizon scored 33 points on them. The Panthers put up 6 against the Knights at their own homecoming.
Saturday’s afternoon tilt in Solana Beach is as big as a “must see game” as they come. Everyone that pays the price of admission in is for a real treat and if the game doesn’t live up to the hype, there’s always “Frito Pie” to purchase at the concession stands, which is a roller coaster ride in itself.
Can the Knights handle the pressure of being the favorites? Will Santa Fe Christian play a perfect game and take down the top dog? Which team will continue to play its best football of the season? Ever been in a Turkish prison? We’ll know the answers to most of those short enough, but the nod has to go to….Bishop’s 35-31.
HORIZON (4-4, 0-2) vs. LJCD (4-3, 0-1) – 7
This is one of the closest games when you break things down to the core. Even last season, when polled, many Coastal League aficionados couldn’t predict the winner. That game went to LJCD 33-6, as the Panthers couldn’t get out of their own way, committing three turnovers that turned into 21 points for the Torreys.
The Panthers’ passing game is led by San Diego county’s passing leader JOSH GAUDET who is 441 yards ahead of second place. He was impressive in last week’s 51-33 loss at the hands of Santa Fe Christian, but the game was already out of hand before they really got things clicking.
La Jolla Country Day is celebrating homecoming this week and the student section will be dressed in a complete “Blackout.” If the Torreys’ secondary doesn’t do a good job of covering receivers ANTHONY OSEGUERA (65 rec, 1120 yds, 13 TD) and CHRISTIAN ARLINGTON (43-680-9), they won’t want to remember this game.
Dual-threat quarterback, BRAXTON BURMEISTER, had his most accurate game of the year, last season against the Panthers, going 14-of-16. They mainly stuck to the ground game though, as they held the ball for the majority of the game, rushing 33 times for 158 yards.
This season, he has found his new favorite target in BRENNAN GORING. The two have combined on 47 passes and 9 touchdowns, good for 710 yards, but being both sophomores they will get to wreak havoc on their opponents for another two seasons.
The Torreys, are going to have to figure a way out to slow down the Horizon passing attack, something much easier said than done. The Panthers, need to get on the board early and often so all that yardage doesn’t come in “garbage time” when it’s too little, too late.
The two Coastal League showdowns this weekend are proof that it’s one of the most competitive leagues and some of the funnest football played throughout the entire county. If I was a casual football fan attending both games only to see what the fuss was all about, I’d walk away hooked for life. However, in one of toughest games of the season to predict, the slight edge goes to….La Jolla Country Day 41-39.
University City (4-3, 1-0) vs. CORONADO (3-5, 0-2) – 6:30
The Islanders season is in a down spiral that they can’t seem to fix. Losers of five straight, they now must try and beat a Centurions team that is by far the second best team in the Central League, only behind Christian.
Both teams have faced Clairemont and had tight contests. Coronado lost 10-7, while UC held on to beat them 12-7. However, all three teams have faced Bishop’s. Coronado and Clairemont were emphatically shutout. The Centurions played them last week, with the Knights playing their best football of the season and put up 13 on them, albeit in a loss.
If you were able to process all of that mess, then you’re probably able to solve a rubik’s cube in under 10 minutes too. I know I can’t, but I can process this game enough to know….University City 35-10.
Mission Bay (3-4, 1-1) vs. LA JOLLA (3-4, 0-1)
@ University City HS – 5:30
This is the type of game that the Vikings should be able to win this year. Senior quarterback COLLIN RUGG ranks second in the county with 2,162 yards thrown and the Buccaneers are in somewhat of a down year for their standards. When you lose two receivers, who go on to play at Division I colleges, that can obviously happen.
Having said all that…this year’s La Jolla team has a knack of losing the close games that you think they should win. They kinda remind me of Horizon because they have a passing attack that should win mores games, but they seem to always fall behind early past the point of no return.
I have been wrong on them more this season than I have been right, but this week, they are finally going to win one they should. Horizon almost took down the Bucs and that was with a 18-man roster. So, against my lack of better judgment, I’m taking a leap of blind faith and hoping they come through with a playoff tune-up….La Jolla 37-14.