Central Catholic of Modesto (11-3) will battle St. Margaret’s of San Juan Capistrano (15-0) on Friday at 4 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 Roger Canepa (7th season, 79-18 overall) and his team at Central Catholic won the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship over Sonora, 42-35 before defeating previously unbeaten Capital Christian of Sacramento 35-14 for their third straight NorCal D4 crown.
Head coach Stephen Barbee (1st year, 15-0 overall but still considered the “interim” coach) and his team at St. Margaret’s won the CIF Southern Section East Valley Division championship, 34-21, over Grace Brethren of Simi Valley. The Tartans then beat top-seed Christian of El Cajon 48-21 in the CIF SoCal D4 bowl game.
Cal-Hi Sports Predicted Score: Central Catholic 35, St. Margaret’s 21. For explanation and breakdown, CLICK HERE. To sign up for Gold Club membership so you can check out the full breakdown, CLICK HERE.
MORE ON CENTRAL CATHOLIC
League: Finished in a second place tie in the Valley Oak League at 5-2 with Manteca.
Cal-Hi Sports Top 25 overall state ranking: Not ranked
Cal-Hi Sports bowl game ranking: No. 1 (Division IV)
CIF State Bowl History: Central Catholic defeated Bakersfield Christian, 36-23, in the 2013 Division IV state bowl game, won the 2012 Division IV state bowl game over Santa Fe Christian, 66-7, lost to St. Bonaventure, 35-21, in the Division III title game in 2007.
Best Win: A late-September, one-point, overtime victory over Valley Oak League-rival Manteca might have been Central Catholic’s best win of the season. The Raiders took a 21-14 lead into the fourth quarter only to see Manteca tie it in the final period with three minutes to play. Manteca struck first in overtime, but Central Catholic answered with a 10-yard rushing TD from Justin Rice. Rice sealed the win with a run for a two-point conversion.
Key Players: QB Hunter Petlansky (6-3, 225, Jr.), RB Justin Rice (6-2, 205, Jr.), RB Kalhiel Dillard (5-9, 170, Sr.), TE/FS Jared Rice (6-5, 215, Sr.), WR Cole Petlansky (6-1, 183, Soph.), LB/OL Kekupa’a Freehauf (6-1, 240, Jr.), LB/OL Austin Escobar (6-1, 220, Jr.), DB Danny Abbate (5-7, 150, Jr.), OLB Montell Bland (6-1, 200, Soph.), DL/OL Zackary Sandelin (6-1, 190, Jr.), DE Ryan Vierra (6-1, 180, Jr.).
General Offense: Justin Rice and Hunter Petlansky spearhead the Central Catholic offense – Rice with his legs and in the passing game and Petlansky with his arm and his legs. Rice has 2,096 yards on 185 carries with 30 touchdowns, while Petlansky has added 728 yards and 12 touchdowns on 100 carries. Petlansky has completed 103 of his 206 pass attempts on the season for 1,884 yards with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. Justin Rice leads the team in receptions and receiving yards with 35 catches for 599. He also has three TD catches. Tight end Jared Rice (older brother of Justin) is the main target in the end zone – he has eight TD catches to lead the team. Note that there is another Jared Rice on the team on the team who is not related to the other two brothers.
General Defense: Freehauf is the key to the Raiders’ defense. The junior is a rangy linebacker who leads his team with 130 tackles on the season – 80 of those being of the solo variety. In addition to his duties at tight end, Jared Rice is a playmaking free safety, snatching six interceptions so far this year. Zackary Sandelin anchors the defensive line, leading the team with five sacks on the season to go along with 58 total tackles. Sophomore OLB Montell Bland is the most likely of the linebackers to blitz and apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks – he has four sacks on the year. Austin Escobar is another standout linebacker for Central Catholic. The junior is second on the team in total tackles with 88.
Key Injuries: Central Catholic went into the regional game in good health, and came out the same.
The Skinny: El Cajon Christian was successful in stopping St. Margaret’s dynamic running back Oscar Gomez, but Tartans’ quarterback George Krantz had a career day to save St. Marg’s. Establishing Justin Rice early and often will be key for Central Catholic and keeping both Gomez and Krantz under wraps’ will be a crucial aspect.
MORE ON ST. MARGARET’S
League: Won Academy League (4-0)
Cal-Hi Sports Top 25 overall state ranking: Not ranked
Cal-Hi Sports bowl game ranking: No. 3 (Division IV)
CIF State Bowl History: St. Margaret’s won the Small Schools Bowl over Hamilton of Hamilton City, 59-7, in 2008.
Best Win: If you take a look at the Tartans’ schedule, top-to-bottom, it seems they haven’t been tested much this season. Their closest regular season game was a 38-28 win over Brethren Christian of Huntington Beach in an Academy League game on October 17. St. Margaret’s best win of the year before last week had to be considered as its 36-34 win over St. Genevieve of Panorama City in the second round of the CIF-SS East Valley playoffs. The Tartans saw a 23-8 lead evaporate in the third quarter and led 23-20 heading in to the fourth. The defense held strong on a last-minute two-point conversion attempt by St. Genevieve – that would have tied the game – to seal the win.
Key Players: QB George Krantz (6-1, 175, Soph.), RB Oscar Gomez (5-7, 180, Sr.), RB/WR/CB Nick Shanks (5-9, 165, Jr.), WR Fernando Delgado (5-10, 175, Sr.), WR Jeremy Davis (5-7, 150, Soph.), DE James Eidt (6-0, 170, Soph.), CB Preston Ellis (6-0, 170, Sr.), LB Ryan Harnisch (5-8, 160, Sr.), MLB Dalan Cragun (6-2, 215, Sr.).
General Offense: It’s easy to tell, just by looking at the stats, that St. Margaret’s is a ground-and-pound type of team. Senior running back Oscar Gomez has 289 carries this season that have gone for 2,307 yards and 40 touchdowns. When the ball is not in the hands of Gomez, Nick Shanks also sees some carries. The junior has 57 carries for 575 yards and six TDs. The passing game is there when it’s needed. Sophomore George Krantz took the reins as the starting quarterback in a game on October 10th against Sage Hill of Newport Beach, after sitting out due to transfer rules, and never looked back. While he doesn’t need to throw it a lot, Krantz is effective when he does. Krantz has completed 72 of 118 through the air for 1,377 yards with 17 touchdowns to four interceptions. The sophomore had one of his best outings of the season in the regional bowl win over El Cajon Christian, throwing for 367 yards and 4 TDs. Shanks is the main receiving target for the Tartans with 29 catches on the season for 765 yards and 11 touchdowns. Fernando Delgado will also get some looks in the passing game – he has 25 catches for 353 yards and four scores.
General Defense: The Tartans switch between a 3-4 and 4-3 recognition look which has resulted in them allowing just 12 points per game on the season. Barbee believes that his defensive unit is one of the most dominant that the East Valley Division has to offer. Middle linebacker Dalan Cragun is a player to watch on that side of the ball, as well as defensive back Preston Ellis who had nine picks heading into last week’s regional bowl game. Defensive end James Eidt leads the push up-front for the Tartans with five sacks on the year.
Key Injuries: None.
The Skinny: El Cajon Christian shut down St. Margaret’s running back Oscar Gomez in the regional game – holding him to 22 yards on 10 carries last week – but George Krantz stepped up and proved himself as a potentially-dynamic passer. The Tartans have been proving themselves on a game-by-game basis and the key to come away with a state bowl win will be stopping the Central Catholic running game.
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.