On AA Friday in the CIF Northern California & Southern California regional football bowl games, state No. 4 Folsom drops 42-35 thriller to No. 8 Bellarmine while state No. 5 Mission Viejo squeaks past No. 7 Helix to set up Division 1AA state final. Del Oro and Camarillo both win in Division 2AA. Go inside for recaps, breakdowns of all Friday AA contests.
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It was all set up for another last-second win by Folsom in the CIF Northern California Division IAA regional final on Friday night at Folsom, but the 2014 CIF Division I state champs were stunned 42-35 by Bellarmine of San Jose.
The Bulldogs (14-1 and No. 4 in last week’s Cal-Hi Sports state rankings) were hoping to play for their third CIF state title next week with a 31-game winning streak, but their longest active streak in the state was snapped by a Bells’ squad that was the one making the big plays at the finish.
Instead, it will be Bellarmine (12-1 and No. 8 in the state) meeting up with Mission Viejo (15-0 and No. 5 in the state) in next week’s CIF Division 1AA state final at Sacramento State. The Diablos had to make their own clutch plays down the stretch in a 32-28 victory at home over Helix of La Mesa (11-2 and No. 7 in the state).
In a 35-35 tie game with less than one minute left, Folsom had the ball and looked to be in good shape to score the points it needed to beat the Bells. But that’s when Vincent Fernandez came up with an interception and more importantly returned the interception 54 yards back down the field all the way inside Folsom’s 30-yard line.
Then two plays later, with just 41 seconds to go, Antonio Garcia raced up the middle through a seam in the Folsom defense for a 24-yard touchdown.
Folsom could do little but try to get in position for a Hail Mary pass on the final play. QB Jake Jeffrey got his heave off but it was knocked away in the end zone.
With the win, Bellarmine head coach Mike Janda notched the 270th win of his career, according to the San Jose Mercury-News, which puts him one in front of retired Saratoga coach Benny Pierce as the most in CIF Central Coast Section history. We actually have had one more win in our Cal-Hi Sports state record files for Janda, but are going with the Mercury-News totals.
It’s not often Janda will face a coach with more wins than he has, but that will be the case next week against Mission Viejo’s Bob Johnson, who has more than 300 career wins. Johnson’s team trailed Helix 28-20 in the third quarter after a 93-yard TD run by Nathan Stinson, who also scored three other times earlier in the game, but battled back for a 1-yard TD run by Colin Schooler and then following a fumble recovery at the Helix 24 won it on another 1-yard plunge by Schooler with 1:59 left.
Helix, the CIF San Diego Section Open Division champion which played with a lot of emotion for out-going head coach Troy Starr, saw its final chance to get the ball back with less than one minute left ruined by an offside penalty that gave Mission Viejo a first down.
Brock Johnson, Mission Viejo’s senior QB and grandson of the head coach, threw two TD passes to sophomore Austin Osborne. When Bob Johnson was coaching his son and Brock’s father, Bret, at El Toro in 1986 that team went 14-0 and was State Team of the Year. This year’s team can’t duplicate that, but can finish 16-0 with a win over Bellarmine. Bret has been the offensive coordinator for the Diablos for many years.
D2AA: Camarillo, Del Oro Move On
It may look odd to some when you see that Camarillo (15-0 and ranked No. 18 in the state) is going to face Del Oro of Loomis (which is only 9-6 overall) in next week’s CIF Division IIAA state final at Sacramento State.
But it won’t take anybody at Camarillo long to go through Del Oro’s scores and realize it’s a team to be taken very seriously.
Both teams won on Friday with the Scorpions taking a scorefest 63-49 over La Habra (13-2, ranked No. 19 in the state) while the Golden Eagles needed a touchdown with 22 seconds left to beat Liberty of Bakersfield 28-24.
Of Del Oro’s six losses, one was to De La Salle, one was to Folsom, one was to Punahou of Hawaii (perennial power), one was to Bellarmine (just beat Folsom), one was to Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills (has been in State Top 25) and one was to Rocklin (later avenged in CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D2 final).
A good team to compare Del Oro to in Southern California might be Orange Lutheran, which ended with six losses but those were to De La Salle, Corona Centennial (twice), St. John Bosco, Mater Dei and JSerra with a win over Vista Murrieta. Imagine if Orange Lutheran got to play in a lower division like Del Oro has been able to do.
Liberty (10-4), which lost to Mission Viejo early in the season, gave Del Oro fits in the first half with a 21-7 lead due to the passing of QB Jordan Love and with 6:42 left took a 24-21 lead on a 34-yard field goal by Ronnie Ochoa.
QB Stone Smartt continued his resurgent play, however, for Del Oro as he drove the Golden Eagles down the field in the closing minutes and scored on a 4-yard run with 22 seconds to play.
In Camarillo’s win, QB Jake Constantine of the Scorpions and QB Eric Barriere of La Habra matched feats, but it was Camarillo with just a few more big plays. Constantine finished with seven TD passes to tie the Ventura County record and according to the Orange County Register had 360 yards. Barriere passed for 421 yards and four TDs with junior Prince Ross getting nine catches for 256 yards and two scores.
D3AA: Campolindo, La Mirada To Meet
Two schools that played for state titles with different results in last March’s CIF boys basketball state finals will meet next week for a CIF football bowl crown. Campolindo (14-1), which lost in the D3 hoops contest to Damien of La Verne but last year went 16-0 and won the D3 football bowl game, edged Milpitas (10-4) on Friday 27-24. Matt Blair kicked a field goal with 23 seconds left for the winning points. La Mirada (12-3) cruised past Oceanside (9-5) on Friday 36-14 in one of the easier wins on the night. The Matadores will be trying to match the feat of its basketball team, which won the CIF D2 state crown last March in a double-overtime thriller over Archbishop Mitty of San Jose.
D4AA: Hanford, Bonita Vista Win
Sonora had climbed to within 20-18 of Hanford in the CIF D4AA NorCal final at Sonora, but the Bullpups (13-1) answered behind the explosive plays of senior Juwuane Hughes, who caught TD passes of 60, 22 and 17 yards from junior QB Ryan Johnson, in a 42-18 win over the Wildcats (12-2). Hanford was the road team Friday, but next week will take on Bonita Vista of Chula Vista (12-2) in the state game. San Diego State-bound Greg Bell had another big game for the Barons with 32 carries for 276 yards and two TDs in their 27-24 triumph against Canyon of Anaheim (9-5, 10-4 not including forfeits).
5AA: Mater Dei Catholic Up Next For Immanuel
A 68-yard TD pass from Chris Jones to Eli Shelton lifted Mater Dei Catholic to a 14-7 lead in the third quarter over previously unbeaten Notre Dame of Riverside (14-1) and the Crusaders (14-0 on-the-field) held on for a 21-14 win over the Titans. Notre Dame was No. 1 in this week’s Cal-Hi Sports Division V state rankings. Mater Dei Catholic is considered Division IV for those rankings and could climb in that group up to third or fourth. In the NorCal bowl game, Immanuel of Reedley (11-2) moved on with a 31-21 win against Bradshaw Christian of Sacramento (12-2). Caleb Paulson led the Eagles with 282 yards passing and two TDs, according to the Fresno Bee.
6AA: East Nicolaus to Coronado
It might not be as far as the trip for the 5A state final next week, but East Nicolaus to Coronado isn’t exactly a short haul, either. The Spartans (12-2) won at home in their game Friday 34-14 over a Stone Ridge Christian of Merced team (12-2) that had set a state record with 10 straight shutout wins two weeks ago. Donovan Switalski has been East Nicolaus’ standout all season and did well again, but it was 65-yard kickoff return TD by Eddie Herrera that really turned it in the Spartans’ favor. Down south, meanwhile, Belmont of Los Angeles (14-1) lost 14-0 to Coronado (10-4) in a bizarre game that had to be played with seven minutes and a running clock for the second, third and fourth quarters due to a lightning delay and driver requirements for the Belmont bus from L.A. that required a 10:30 p.m. departure.