We were able to collect the pregame notes for the Time Warner broadcast of Saturday’s Honor Bowl showdown in Oceanside between state No. 2 Centennial of Corona and state No. 6 Serra of Gardena. These notes were all written and compiled by Devin Ugland. The game starts at 8 p.m. and Cal-Hi Sports will be represented by managing editor Ronnie Flores.
SERRA (GARDENA) OVERVIEW
Coach: Scott Altenberg (17th season, 153-47-1)
2015-16 Record: 1-0
2014-15 Record, Results: 8-3 overall, Lost to Corona Centennial, 68-64, in the first round of the CIF-SS Pac-5 Division playoffs
Cal-Hi Sports State Ranking: No. 6
How They Got Here: Serra is dynasty-like in Southern California football. It’s a school which constantly churns out top-echelon Division I players and this season is no different. The Cavaliers boast a high-powered defense and high-powered offense that is only rivaled, really, by their Honor Bowl opponent Corona Centennial.
Key Players: QB Khalil Tate (6-2, 205, Sr., committed to Arizona, suspended for Honor Bowl game for fighting in Week 0 game vs. Lakewood), QB Jalani Eason (5-11, 175, Jr., will start in-place of Tate), WR/DB Brandon Burton (6-2, 195, Sr., four-star recruit down to Alabama, Arizona, Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and UCLA), DT Wole Betiku (6-4, 240, Sr., four-star recruit committed to UCLA), DB Chris “CJ” Pollard (6-2, 185, Sr., four-star recruit committed to USC), LB Blake Walls (6-0, 225, Sr., three-star recruit committed to San Jose State), RB Job McGinty (5-6, 167, Sr., Mountain West interest), LB/WR Merlin Robertson (6-3, 215, Soph., offers from Illinois, Utah and Miami), WR/DB Isaiah Diego-Williams (5-10, 160, Sr., two-star recruit), WR/DB Tyler Hall (5-10, 172, Sr.), TE Kevin Hicks (6-1, 247, Sr.), DB David Eure (5-11, 175, Soph.), LB Tysyn Parker (6-2, 191, Jr., three-star recruit with interest from Nebraska and Oklahoma), LB Deondre Brown (5-11, 174, Sr.), LT Kordell Ross (6-0, 282, Jr.), LG Tevesi Tauala (5-11, 268, Jr.), C Amanaki Veikoso (6-0, 221, Sr.), RG Stevan Winn (6-1, 262, Sr.), RT Noah Bias (6-0, 265, Soph.), NG Winston Webb (6-1, 237, Sr.),
General Notes (Offense): Khalil Tate, the usual starter for Serra who is serving a one-game suspension this week, is a dual-threat type of quarterback who has become known as an electric playmaker. Without him, though, backup Jalani Eason will take the reins, and according to Coach Altenberg, Eason will not be trying to do his best Khalil Tate impression. Instead, Serra is looking for Eason to be a solid game manager, get the football to athletes in space and let them do the rest. Isaiah Diego-Williams is one receiver who Eason will be looking for a lot, while Brandon Burton and Tyler Hall are also big-time pass catching threats. Job McGinty will handle the majority of the carries for Serra.
General Notes (Defense): If one of Serra’s three defensive linemen is getting to Centennial’s QB, it’s more than likely going to be UCLA-commit Wole Betiku. The 6-foot-4, 240 pounder recorded seven tackles in a win over Lakewood last week, including five for a loss and 3.5 sacks. The linebacking corps will be anchored by Blake Walls – 10 tackles last week – and talented sophomore Merlin Robertson. The aforementioned Burton, USC-pledge Chris “CJ” Pollard and sophomore David Eure are the key cogs in the Cavaliers secondary.
Key Injuries: None
The Skinny: This might be a tough game for Serra to pull out without its starting quarterback Khalil Tate. Tate is a calming presence and vocal leader for the Cavaliers, not to mention a pretty good football player. Serra has plenty of other weapons at its disposal, but it will be up to backup QB Jalani Eason to get the ball to those athletes in space.
CENTENNIAL (CORONA) OVERVIEW
Coach: Matt Logan (19th season, 198-45 overall)
2015-16 Record: 1-0
2014-15 Record, Results: 12-3 overall, Won CIF-SS Pac-5 Division championship, 48-41, over St. John Bosco. Lost in CIF State Open ￼Division Bowl Game, 63-42, to Concord De La Salle.
Cal-Hi Sports State Ranking: No. 2
How They Got Here: As noted above, Corona Centennial is the defending CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division champions. Interestingly enough, though, that title run began with the Huskies barely squeaking by their 2015 Honor Bowl opponent, Serra. Centennial and Serra went down to the wire in a first-round shootout which the Huskies pulled out, 68-64. Centennial might be better than it was last season, which is saying a lot.
Key Players: QB Anthony Catalano (5-10, 165, Sr.), RB J.J. Taylor (5-6, 165, Sr., three-star recruit committed to Arizona), RB Miles Reed (5-7, 175, Jr.), WR Javon McKinley (6-2, 205, Sr., four-star recruit down to Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Tennessee and USC), WR Troy Spencer (5-9, 165, Jr.,) Slot Cameron Jackson (5-7, 154, Sr.), Slot Sammonte Bonner (5-9, 175, Sr.), S Chacho Ulloa (6-0, 185, Sr., three- star recruit down to Arizona State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Stanford and Vanderbilt), CB Kentrell Love (6-2, 175, Sr., three-star recruit committed to Washington), CB Camryn Bynum (6-0, 175, Sr., three-star recruit committed to Cal), OLB Jacob Esquivel (5-9, 175, Sr.), OLB Zacquory Nelson (6-0, 175, Sr.), ILB Zach Brumbaugh (6-0, 215, Sr., offer from Air Force), ILB Forrest Rivers (5-10, 210, Sr.), OLB Desmond Williams (6-0, 190, Sr., three-star recruit committed to Boise State), DE Ebone Caldwell (6-2, 255, Sr.), DE Seleti Fevaleaki (6-2, 255, Jr.), NT Jorge Jimenez (5-9, 250, Sr.), LT Jacob Jakoviak (6-2, 240, Jr.), LG Daniel Juarez (6-5, 285, Sr., three-star recruit committed to Cal), C Paul Hafoka (6-2, 290, Sr.), RG Tyler Wells (6-1, 300, Jr.), RT Ian Lauvai (5-11, 255, Sr.)
General Notes (Offense): Dual-threat quarterback Anthony Catalano has the luxury of playing behind a massive offensive line and that extra time allows him to execute coach Logan’s high-powered and fast-paced offense. When not tucking the ball and running it himself, look for Catalano to hand it off or pass it to Arizona-bound running back JJ Taylor or sling it to one of the best wide receivers in the state, Javon McKinley. Look for junior running back Miles Reed to get some carries when Taylor needs a breather and keep an eye out for receivers Sammonte Bonner and Cameron Jackson to see plenty of targets as McKinley is likely to receive extra attention.
General Notes (Defense): The Huskies’ secondary is extremely dangerous with safety Chacho Ulloa and cornerbacks Kentrell Love and Camryn Bynum all poised to go Division I colleges, Centennial has a ton of playmaking potential in the secondary. Zach Brumbaugh and Forrest Rivers anchor a linebacking crew that’s known for speed and devastating hits, while defensive end Seleti Fevaleaki provides the pressure in Centennial’s 3-4 front.
Key Injuries: QB Anthony Catalano will play through a foot injury
The Skinny: Centennial cannot afford to take Serra lightly because its without its starting quarterback. The Cavaliers are still plenty dangerous with Eason taking snaps and have big play potential defensively. That being said, Centennial has plenty of athletes and playmakers of its own, starting with wide receiver Javon McKinley and running back JJ Taylor. It’ll be on quarterback Anthony Catalano to take care of the football and to get those guys the ball where they can be successful.