Campolindo of Moraga (15-0) goes up against El Capitan of Lakeside (14-0) on Saturday at 12 p.m. at the StubHub Center in Carson. The game will be broadcast live on Time Warner Cable’s TWC SportsNet in Southern California and on Comcast SportsNet California in Northern California. For a live stream go to: www.TWCcommunity.com.
By Devin Ugland
Special to CalHiSports.com
Head coach Kevin Macy (19th season) and his team at Campolindo defeated Marin Catholic of Kentfield, 27-21, to secure the CIF North Coast Section Division III championship. The Cougars then beat Sutter, 35-14, in the Division III North Regional to advance to the CIF State Bowl game. Campolindo scored 35 unanswered points after falling behind Sutter, 14-0, in the first quarter.
Head coach Ron Burner (10th season, 71-43-2 overall) and his team at El Capitan won the CIF San Diego Section Division II championship, 14-7, over Rancho Bernardo. The Vaqueros then blanked Paso Robles 41-0 in the CIF SoCal Division III bowl game.
League:Won the Diablo Foothill League (6-0)
Cal-Hi Sports Top 25 overall state ranking: No. 21
Cal-Hi Sports bowl game ranking: No. 2 (Division III)
CIF Bowl History: Campolindo lost to Washington Union, 21-16, in the CIF D3 state bowl championships in 2011 at the then Home Depot Center (now StubHub Center).
Best Win: Campolindo’s best win on the year was a 27-21 victory over familiar-foe Marin Catholic in the North Coast Section Division III title game. The Cougars broke the game open with a 13-point third quarter and held on in the fourth to take the win. Another key victory for the Cougars was a comeback win over Las Lomas in a Diablo Foothill league contest. Campolindo trailed Las Lomas, 28-21, at halftime, but scored 17 unanswered points in the second half to take a 38-28 decision. That game ended up deciding the league champion as Las Lomas finished 5-1 in league play.
Key Players: QB Jack Stephens (6-2, 185, Sr.), RB Nick Fadelli (5-11, 190, Sr.), RB/DB Conner McNally (5-7, 160, Sr.), FB/LB/WR Adam Remotto (5-10, 210, Sr.), WR/DB Max Flower (6-4, 205, Jr.), WR/DB Caleb Whalen (5-11, 180, Sr.), TE Tyler Petite (6-5, 225, Sr., USC Commit), WR/DB Madison Young (5-11, 160, Jr.), LB Kevin Hull (5-10, 190, Sr.), DE Todd Blakely (6-4, 185, Sr.), DB Tiger Garcia (6-3, 160, Sr.), LB Jack Shurtz (6-1, 195, Sr.).
General Offense: The Cougars can really air it out in a pro-style offense with quarterback Jack Stephens leading the way. Stephens has thrown for 3,273 yards on the season with 33 touchdowns to nine interceptions. The senior is completing passes at a 61.8 percent clip (160 for 259) and boasts a 218.2 yards per game average. Stephens does of nice job of spreading the ball around to a stable of receivers led by Max Flower. Flower, a junior, has 51 catches for 1,000 yards and 11 TDs this season. The next in line is tight end and USC commit Tyler Petite. Petite recently flipped his commitment from Duke to the Trojans. The senior has caught 30 passes for 867 yards and nine TDs. Caleb Whalen, Adam Remotto and Nick Fadelli are also players who will see targets in the passing game. While Fadelli can catch the ball out of the backfield or spread out wide, he serves as Campolindo’s most effective running back, as well. Fadelli has 1,814 yards and 32 touchdowns on 191 carries this season. Conner McNally spells Fadelli when needed and Remotto is another back who gets carries for the Cougars.
General Defense: Defensive back Tiger Garcia is the player to watch for Campolindo. The senior had two interceptions in the first half of the Cougars’ regional bowl win over Sutter last week and has four picks on the season. Kevin Hull, Jack Shurtz and Remotto lead the Campolindo linebacking corps. Hull has eight sacks this season, Shurtz five sacks and Remotto was key in holding Sutter to just 14 points last week after averaging 40 points per game on the season. Petite and Todd Blakely lead the Cougars’ push up-front.
Key Injuries: A few Campolindo players are battling through some injuries. Max Flower is nursing a shoulder injury, Conner McNally a groin injury and Nick Fadelli has been working through an illness.
The Skinny: Campolindo’s offense is the definition of explosive – averaging 46.7 points per game this year – while the defense is giving up 19.4 points a game on the season. The Cougars have scored 40-plus points in 11 of their 15 games and are surely looking to make the DIII state bowl game an offensive shootout.
MORE ON EL CAPITAN
League: Won Grossmont Hills League (5-0)
Cal-Hi Sports Top 25 overall state ranking: No. 16
Cal-Hi Sports bowl game ranking: No. 1 (Division III)
CIF Bowl History: El Capitan is playing in its first CIF state bowl game.
Best Win: The Grossmont Hills League title game 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.
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 2,769 passing (167 of 282 – 59.2 completion percentage) and 30 touchdowns to five interceptions. But, if needed, Cagle can do plenty with his legs to make plays happen. The senior has carried the ball for 500-plus yards and eight touchdowns on the year. The main source of rushing is D.J. Smith. The senior two-way player had 1,195 yards and 19 touchdowns on 177 carries entering last week’s regional bowl win over Paso Robles and had a 77-yard interception return for a touchdown in that 41-0 rout. 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. Capoocia has 15 receiving touchdowns and seven rushing TDs on the year. Joseph Lachappa, Zach Cagle, D.J. Smith, Frankie Lima and Sam Melero are all scoring threats in the passing game for the Vaqueros.
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 over 100 tackles on the year. 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 went in to the regional bowl game with a team-high 10.5 sacks this season, in addition to 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: El Capitan was relatively healthy heading into the regional game and the same can be said this week.
The Skinny: El Capitan has been running over people all season long and did it with a spectacular defensive effort against Paso Robles last week. Campolindo brings in a bit of a different beast, offensively, that the Vaqueros have yet to see this season with the ability to throw it as well as it can run it. Another strong defensive effort is what El Capitan needs to get the win – which is an odd outlook seeing that El Capitan is averaging 38 points per game this season and Campolindo puts up points at a 46-plus per game clip.
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.