The Vaqueros (13-0) are meeting Paso Robles (13-1) at home on Saturday Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable throughout Southern California. For more info on Paso Robles, CLICK HERE.
By Devin Ugland
Special to CalHiSports.com
Head coach: Ron Burner (10th season, 70-43-2 overall)
Section: The Vaqueros won the CIF San Diego Section Division II championship, 14-7, over Rancho Bernardo.
League: Won Grossmont Hills League (5-0)
Cal-Hi Sports Top 25 overall state ranking: No. 17
Cal-Hi Sports bowl game ranking: No. 1 (Division III South)
CIF Bowl History: El Capitan is playing in its first CIF Bowl game.
Best Win: The Grossmont Hills league title came down to a matchup of two undefeated foes in El Capitan and Helix – both 4-0 in league play at the time. The score was tied at 17 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Vaqueros were able to pull out the 24-17 victory, and secure a league championship on a 1-yard rushing TD from Zach Cagle. Helix would eventually reach the San Diego Section Open Division championship game, losing to Oceanside 20-13.
Key Players: Dual-Threat QB Brad Cagle (6-1, 200, Sr.), RB/LB D.J. Smith (6-0, 218, Sr.), WR Isaiah Capoocia (6-0, 175, Sr.), WR/LB Joseph Lachappa (6-3, 195, Sr.), WR Zach Cagle (6-1, 205, Sr.), LB Chance Colson (5-11, 180, Jr.), DL Robby Callaway (6-0, 185, Sr.), CB James Owen (6-0, 175, Sr.), FS Jarred Turner (5-9, 165, Sr.), SS Sam Melero (5-10, 170, Sr.).
General Offense: El Capitan runs a west coast style spread offense led by quarterback Brad Cagle. He fancies himself a pocket-passer, evidenced by his 2,650 passing (158 of 267 – 59.2 completion percentage) and 29 touchdowns to five interceptions. But, if needed, Cagle can do plenty with his legs to make plays happen. The senior has carried the ball 69 times for 500 yards and eight touchdowns on the year. The main source of rushing is D.J. Smith. The senior two-way player has 1,195 yards and 19 touchdowns on 177 carries. Cagle spreads the ball around to a plethora of receivers. Six El Capitan wideouts have found the end zone this season, led by Isaiah Capoocia. His 59 catches have gone for 941 yards and 15 touchdowns. Joseph Lachappa has gone for 32/576/2 (Rec/Yds/TDs), Zach Cagle for 27/455/4, D.J. Smith for 21/307/3, Frankie Lima for 15/200/1 and to round things out, Sam Melero has 11 catches for 242 yards and three touchdowns.
General Defense: Defensively, El Capitan runs a base 5-2 and can change it, but by sliding a defensive end back to a 4-3 look. D.J. Smith anchors the defense at the middle linebacker position, tallying a team-high 98 tackles on the year, including 14 tackles for a loss. Senior defensive lineman Robby Callaway leads the Vaqueros’ front with 51 tackles and a team-leading 21.5 of those for a loss. El Capitan isn’t shy about sending the corner blitz, especially when corner back James Owen is the one being sent. Owen has picked up a team-high 10.5 sacks this season, in addition to his 48 tackles. The Vaqueros have plenty of game-changing talent in the secondary in addition to Owens. Free safety Jarred Turner has a team-high seven interceptions, strong safety Sam Melero has six picks and Isaiah Capoocia and Zach Cagle have three interceptions each.
Key Injuries: Coach Burner said that there are no key injuries outside of the typical bumps and bruises.
The Skinny: It looks like El Capitan will just need to continue what it has been doing all season long. While Robert Mares is a good running back for Paso, he hasn’t shown the game-breaking capabilities compared to that of the injured Christian Erickson. The El Capitan defensive backs also must limit the Justin Davis to Bailey Gaither connection.
Devin Ugland covers USC men’s basketball and football for TrojanSports.com. He has previously written for the Orange County Register, Long Beach Press-Telegram and Daily Pilot. You can reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @Devin_Ugland.