Finally, it will be settled — No. 2 seeded and No. 1-ranked Carlsbad will meet No. 1-seeded and No. 2-ranked Cathedral Catholic for the Open Division championship Saturday.
“People have been waiting two seasons for this game,” said Carlsbad coach Thadd MacNeal. “It should be a great one.”
Carlsbad and Cathedral Catholic both went 5-0 in last spring’s coronavirus-shortened season. There were no playoffs, so the Lancers and Dons never played.
Both teams took care of business in Friday night’s semifinals, Carlsbad (11-0) beating Torrey Pines 44-7 and Cathedral Catholic (9-2) beating Mission Hills 38-10.
“Cathedral Catholic will be one hell of an opponent,” said Carlsbad LB Anthony Ferrelli. “It’s going to be a great game.”
Carlsbad rolled over Torrey Pines, scoring the first six times it had the ball.
Paulo Burak scored on runs of 37 and 14 yards and finished the game with 14 carries for 138 yards.
Matt Moore had a 12-yard TD run and later caught a 13-yard TD pass from QB Julian Sayin. Moore had 2 carries for 17 yards and 5 catches for 58.
Christian Sarem returned an interception 16 yards for a score and Gavin Patterson added a 28-yard FG.
All that was in the first half.
The Lancers opened the second half with Sayin finding Josh Davis for a 41-yard TD. Davis had 5 catches for 88 yard.
The scoring spree finished with Sayin throwing 13 yards to Moore for a score.
Sayin was 13 of 16 for 169 yards and 2 TDs.
The Carlsbad defense held Torrey Pines to 95 yards rushing, sacking QB Remi Baere seven times — 2 by Ferrelli and 2 by Cassius Murphy.
The Falcons threw for just 38 yards.
“This is who we are,” Ferrelli said of the Carlsbad defense.
After not playing for 21 days because of a forfeit win and bye, Cathedral (9-2) advanced to the title game behind a dominating defense and 4-TD game from Lucky Sutton.
The Dons’ defense forced 4 turnovers that set up 17 points and limited Mission Hills to 120 yards total offense. The Grizzlies gained just 31 yards rushing on 17 carries.
Regarding the layoff, defensive end Jaxson Moi said, “Oh, we were hungry, for sure. Three weeks is too long. We wanted to go out and hit somebody.”
Sutton carried 23 times for 194 yards and scored TDs on runs of 8, 63, 1 and 22 yards.
The Dons scored first via the pass. QB Charlie Mirer evaded some pressure, stepped up in the pocket and on the run hit a streaking Darian Whaley for a 67-yard TD. Mirer finished 10 of 15 for 147 yards.
The Dons capitalized on fumble recoveries to push the lead to 17-0 just 69 seconds into the second quarter.
“If you want to win a championship, you always like to have the defense lead the way,” said Cathedral head coach Sean Doyle.
Third-seeded Mission Hills (8-3) advanced to the Open Division semis despite a slew of injuries, particularly at QB. The Grizzlies lost starter Gunnar Hensley and third-string QB Rohan Bedi during the year to season-ending injuries.
Second-string QB Jack Madsen missed time with a broken hand.
“Every week it was something new,” said Mission Hills head coach Chris Hauser. “It has been gnarly.”
The Dons have been looking forward to playing Carlsbad. The Lancers beat Cathedral 21-20 in the 2019 Open semis.
Said Moi, “That left a sour taste in our mouth.”
(1) Helix 41, (9) Grossmont 24: Christian Washington posted career highs of 337 yards and 5 TDs on 27 carries to lead Helix (7-3) into the semifinals. Washington, who has 10 TDs in his last 2 games, scored on runs of 44, 46, 6, 55 and 65 yards. Tyrus Lanzar-Lockhart added a 57-yard TD. Ryland Jessee was 9 of 12 passing for 74 yards, and fellow sophomore Kairo Kahananui collected a key interception. The Scotties have beaten Grossmont (4-8) 26 consecutive times and 39 of 40. But this was tight midway in the fourth quarter as Trenton Giles tossed 2 TDs to Ryan Rodieck (82 and 28 yards) and ran in a 2-yarder to close to 27-24.
(5) El Camino 30, (4) La Costa Canyon 20: El Camino (7-5) QB Kiah Reid threw for 123 yards and ran 12 times for 64 times and 2 TDs. Zuriel Eatmon had 10 carries for 104 yards and a TD. Brodrick Washington had 4 carries for 73 yards and had 101 yards on kick returns. Isaiah Tuipala had 7 carries for 30 yards and a TD, Isaiah Dixon led the defense with 7 tackles. La Costa Canyon finishes 5-6.
(2) Madison 28, (10) Granite Hills 20: Tyson Bryant gained 156 yards on 18 carries and scored a TD as Madison (9-2) held off Granite Hills (5-7). Easton Peterson had a 25-yard interception return for a TD for Granite.
(3) Lincoln 41, (6) Eastlake 31: Junior RB Roderick Robinson gained 200 yards on 21 carries and scored 3 TDs for Lincoln (7-3). Jahlil Florence, Hunter Wiggins and Demarion Smith intercepted passes with Florence bringing his back 23 yards for a score. Eastlake (8-4) starting QB Jordan Blondin was 9 of 17 for 90 yards and a TD, but was forced into concussion protocol and Nico Peters rallied the Titans twice to within three points. Nayhum Lao had a 64-yard TD run for Eastlake. Jayden Kendricks had 12 tackles and Jayden Cortell with 11 tackles, one for a loss led the defense. Cortell intercepted his county-leading eighth pass of the season. Christian Aguiler, Trey White and Marcus House each had 10 tackles.
(1) Mira Mesa 34, (9) Christian 16: Mira Mesa (7-3) got big games from sophomore QB Tyson Line and junior RB Makei Thompson. Line completed 15 of 24 passes for 253 yards, 2 TDs and rushed for 2 scores. Thompson rushed for 154 yards on 19 carries. Chris Brown had 5 catches for 114 yards and 2 TDs. Christian finished 6-5.
(4) La Jolla 27, (5) Valley Center 22: La Jolla (4-7) backup QB Kevin Steele threw an 18-yard TD pass to Makai Smith with 24 seconds to play for the winning score. Steele came on after starter Jackson Stratton left with a shoulder injury. Stratton completed 19 of 27 passes for 248 yards and 2 TDs. Mason Powers had 9 catches for 182 yards and a TD. Smith had 9 catches for 97 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions. Valley Center (6-6) RB Lucas Sinohui carried 31 times for 202 yards and a pair of TDs, one from 47 yards. QB Colton Paxton threw for 193 yards and a score. Jake Dunckel caught 10 passes for 118 yards. Tyler Hakes had 8 tackles, a TFL and a fumble recovery for the Jaguars.
(2) Scripps Ranch 27, (10) Central Union 7: The Scripps Ranch (9-1) defense had 6 sacks, 3 by Jowanzo Smythe. Noah Gardinera and Nijah Richards had interceptions. Conor Lawler had 8 catches for 107 yards and a TD. Josh Nguyen rushed for 2 scores. Damian Rodriguez was 13 of 28 for 120 yards and a TD for Central Union (6-6). Deryian Nelson had 10 tackles.
(6) Rancho Bernardo 17, (3) Poway 14: After losing to Poway 28-14 2 weeks ago, Rancho Bernardo (7-5) upset Poway (7-4). Frankie Franchina rushed 30 times for 160 yards and both TDs for Rancho Bernardo, including the game-winning TD on a 1-yard run in the final minute.
(1) Mt. Carmel 34, (8) Santana 14: Jayden Virgin scored on runs of 16 and 5 yards and caught a 14-yard TD pass from Cayden Gent for Mt. Carmel (10-1). Gent completed 12 of 18 passes for 161 yards to push him over 2,000 yards passing for the season. Hunter Ledesma had a 19-yard TD run for the Sundevils and Ronald Pearly returned an interception 37 yards for a TD. Santana (8-3) scored on a 17-yard TD pass from Alex Rico to Logan Jordan. The Sultans had just 117 yards total offense. This is the first 10-win season for Mt. Carmel since 1992.
(4) Ramona 51, (5) West Hills 0: Ramona’s (8-3) Cash Jones rushed 18 times for 101 yards and 3 TDs , giving him 149 carries for 947 yards and 9 TDs for the season despite missing 3 games with a knee injury. Adrian Enriquez also had a rushing TD and had 51 yards on 6 carries. QB Devin Sobczak and Gabriel Lutz hooked up for a 21-yard TD. Sobczak was 8 of 10 for 101 yards and 2 TDs. Charlie Mattson had 3 interceptions, returning one 55 yards for a TD. Ramona had 3 interceptions and recovered 2 fumbles. West Hills’ dream season ends at 11-1.
(2) Mater Dei Catholic 55, (7) El Capitan 0: Domonic Nankil was 7 of 13 passing for 213 yards and 4 long TDs to different receivers — Cruz Estrada (50 yards), Jaylen Hall (41), Surahz Buncom (40) and Rollin George (48) for Mater Dei Catholic (9-0). Brian Dukes added a 9-yard fumble return TD to make it 41-0 at halftime as the Crusaders improved their season scoring margin to 467-51 with 4 shutouts. El Cap (9-3) had only 21 total yards in the first half, finished with 10 rushing yards and was shut out for the first time since 2016.
(3) Santa Fe Christian 38, (6) Brawley 35: With a minute left from the 16-yard line, Thomas Greupner tossed into the right flat and Kevin Olah raced into the end zone for the game-winner as Santa Fe Christian (10-0) survived against the upset-minded Wildcats (9-3). Moments earlier, Ethan Gutierrez had put Brawley ahead 35-31 with a 65-yard TD pass to Brandon Porras, who caught 3 TDs from Gutierrez. Greupner was 8 of 11 for 173 yards and 2 TDs, including a 38-yarder to Zachary Marshall. Dante Rotchford rushed for 50 yards and 3 TDs. Luke Heggie had 12 tackles and 2 sacks.
(1) Patrick Henry 65, (8) La Jolla Country Day 28: Elijaih Lux rushed 14 times for 195 yards and 4 TDs and Tabias Harris added 146 yards on 10 carries as Henry (8-2) set school playoff records for points, rushing yards (446) and total yards (602). Malachai Ghitman was 7 of 11 passing for 156 yards, including 37- and 55-yard TD passes to Jeremiah Symington, who had 4 catches for 122 yards. Omar Hammond had an 81-yard kick return TD. The Torreys (7-5) were led by 6-5 junior Bito Bass-Sulpizio, who completed 29 of 59 passes for 350 yards and 4 TDs, plus he scrambled for 59 yards as the teams combined for 1,020 total yards and 13 TDs. Alex Glynn (10-127-0), Evan Hiremath (8-128-2) and Jordan Hochberg (2-35-2) were the main targets. Henry has won 6 straight games and outscored opponents 441-178 this season.
(4) Del Norte 49, (5) Rancho Buena Vista 14: Del Norte (7-4) scored more than 40 points in a game for the fifth time this season in improving its winning streak to 4 games and setting a school record for wins in a season. The Nighthawks, who have outscored their opponents 392-231, got 3 TD passes from Jack Schneider. Martin Hill caught one of those passes and had TD runs of 77 and 34 yards. Connor Underhill had 2 TD passes for Rancho Buena Vista (6-6).
(2) University City 35, (7) Montgomery 8: Samuel Cooper IV rushed for 4 TDs and passed for another for UC (7-4). Cooper has accounted for 47 TDs this season, 23 passing, 21 rushing and 3 receiving. He had 293 yards total offense against the Aztecs, 160 passing, 133 rushing. Montgomery finished 7-4. The Centurions face Coronado in the semifinals. UC beat Coronado 60-14 last month.
(3) Coronado 15, (6) Sweetwater 0: Coronado had given up 217 points the past four games. Sweetwater beat Valhalla 73-6 the previous week. But in a quarterfinal matchup the Islanders pitched a shutout. Logan Eastlick intercepted a pass for Coronado (6-5) and Elias Valdivia returned a punt 47 yards for a TD. Sweetwater finished 6-4.
(1) Palo Verde 36, (8) Crawford 14: Behind 1,200-yard rushers Markus Macon and Xzavier Bejarano, Palo Verde (9-2) advanced. Crawford finishes 4-8.
(4) Fallbrook 49, (12) San Ysidro 0: Fallbrook (5-6) won its first playoff game since 2015. Chris Baush had TD runs of 5, 7 and 44 yards. Marquise Washington had a 35-yard TD run while John Reynoso and Marcus Washington had 7-yard TD runs. Evan Thomas and Charlie Stallings hooked up for a 57-yard TD. San Ysidro, which won its first playoff game in school history last week, finishes 5-6.
(2) Mission Bay 35, (10) El Cajon Valley 7: Clash Orsborn was 14 of 19 for 168 yards and 3 TDs, plus he rushed for 2 scores to lead Mission Bay (9-2), which opened the season with a 48-0 win over El Cajon (3-9). Orsborn TDs went to Keller Feltman (57 yards), Jacob Sloan (19) and Jack Ryan (5) after an interception by Gavin Marzion. The Braves’ Kal-El Gordon prevented the shutout with a 7-yard TD run.
(6) Calexico 14, (3) Holtville 12: With a minute to play, Calexico (7-5) stopped a 2-point conversion run by Holtville (8-3) to advance to the semis. Calexico avenged a 29-28 loss to the Vikings in Week 5.
Norcross is a freelance writer. Freelance writers Terry Monahan, Steve Brand, Jim Lindgren, Rick Hoff and Kevin Farmer contributed to this report.