After CIF state bowl wins by Narbonne in D1A and Central Catholic in Small Schools Open Division, De La Salle of Concord beats Centennial of Corona 28-21 to win its sixth CIF state title in seven years, second in a row and denies Huskies a shot at one mythical national title.
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(De La Salle-Centennial written by Mark Tennis)
It all started with a rather ugly loss on national TV as the preseason No. 1 team in the nation by just about everyone, but it ended on Saturday night at Sacramento State with a win over a team that was No. 1 in the nation by at least one media group.
That was the quick version of the Concord De La Salle 2015 season after the Spartans turned back Centennial of Corona 28-21 in Saturday’s CIF Open Division state bowl championship at Sacramento State.
After the game itself, the more detailed explanation is that it took several microscopic measurements on two fourth downs and three other fourth down stops by the De La Salle defense to overcome Centennial with the offense making just enough big plays.
With the victory, De La Salle (13-1) earned its second straight CIF Open Division state title, its sixth state title in seven years and will be the Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year for the 18th time since 1992.
“Hats off to our guys especially our defense,” said De La Salle head coach Justin Alumbaugh, now in his third season. “I’m really proud of our effort. It’s gratifying to see our guys play as well as they did tonight against a real quality team.”
If the Spartans had not lost in their first game 26-21 in Texas to Trinity of Euless, Texas, in which they only had six practices to prepare for and didn’t adjust to some of the Texas blocking rules, they would have ended as a consensus national No. 1 team as well.
Centennial, which finished 15-1 and was No. 2 behind DLS in the Cal-Hi Sports state rankings but was No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps and was ranked higher by every national poll, lost to the Spartans for the fourth time in five tries. Last year’s loss was 63-42. The Huskies beat DLS 21-16 in the 2008 CIF Division I state bowl game.
“We had some penalties and dropped passes, didn’t execute on some opportunities, and missed a couple of fourth downs by inches,” said Centennial head coach Matt Logan. “But the difference was their defense. They played really well.”
Facing a Centennial offense that scored 55 points in one half in its last game against another nationally ranked opponent, St. John Bosco of Bellflower, De La Salle’s biggest stop came with 1:04 left on its own 45-yard line. That was on 4th and 11 and came on an incomplete pass.
Three plays later, senior running back Andrew Hernandez ran for eight yards and a first down after Centennial had used all of its time outs.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, after De La Salle took a 28-21 lead on a 26-yard run by senior quarterback Anthony Sweeney, the Huskies threatened to tie the score but a fourth down pass was broken up on a massive hit by De La Salle’s Antoine Custer, more known for being the team’s top running back.
“Winning it back-to-back is just awesome,” said Custer, who finished with 18 carries for 120 yards and two TDs. “We just kept playing hard and physical. On the hit, I felt like that was a big play in the game and I just had to get us the turnover on downs. I was just trying to win the game for my team.”
When the teams met last year, it resembled a track meet with both offenses scoring almost at will. This time, there were only a few moments it went back-and-forth like that.
With Centennial ahead at 14-7 in the third quarter due to an eight-yard TD pass from senior Anthony Catalano (12 of 23, 88 yds, 2 TDs) to senior Sammonte Bonner, the Spartans took advantage of a blown coverage in the Huskies’ secondary for a 48-yard TD pass from Sweeney to senior Jonathan Harvey.
“Even when we fell behind I was confident,” Alumbaugh said. “Our guys looked good. We told them to calm down, be physical but don’t try to do too much.”
The Huskies came right back for a 59-yard scoring drive in just five plays to re-take a seven-point lead at 21-14. That series ended with a nine-yard TD pass from Catalano to senior Javon McKinley.
Unfortunately for Centennial, the advantage only lasted a few seconds since De La Salle scored on a 63-yard breakaway touchdown run by Custer. That knotted the score at 21-21 with 4:07 left in the third quarter and helped set the stage for the finish.
Sweeney’s 26-yard run to give De La Salle the lead was set up by an interception by senior Nick Lopez. Prior to that play, the Spartan defense had halted a Centennial drive on the 16-yard line on a fourth down play that was measured short by inches.
“All these months of hard work and dedication and preparation and it all paid off,” said Sweeney, who had 74 yards rushing with one TD and 76 yards passing with one score. “We kind of beat ourselves a little bit (in the first half). I think we were the reason why we didn’t score a lot. Some dumb things, but we changed things up a bit in the second half.”
In the first half, De La Salle’s defense stopped the Huskies on the 14-yard line on a fourth down play by about the link of the chain and on the first series of the game it was a series ending by Centennial on the DLS 18.
J.J. Taylor was kept out of the end zone for the Huskies, but led all rushers with 29 carries for 175 yards and caught five passes for 43 yards. Catalano also rushed for 104 yards on 11 carries.
Boss Tagaloa, De La Salle’s 6-foot-3, 285-pound two-way line standout, led the defense with three tackles for loss and 10 in all. He played with stitches in his head after reportedly getting slashed by another player’s facemask. Linebacker Keanu Andrade had 11 tackles with one for loss.
“That’s a tough, tough team to defend,” said former head coach Bob Ladoucuer. “We went around and around for two weeks trying to figure out if we were doing the right thing trying to defend them. We were out of position a couple of times but by and large we made the plays.”
It really is amazing how often this has happened for De La Salle over the years in the biggest games, and it’s rolling right along with Alumbaugh in the captain’s chair.
Small Schools Open:
Central Catholic Four-Peats
(Written by Harold Abend)
Prior to the CIF Small School Open Division Bowl Game championship there were those among the statewide media that felt this was the best Central Catholic team the tiny Modesto school had ever fielded.
Comparing teams is difficult but after the way this year’s version of the three-time defending bowl game champion Raiders finished of San Marino it’s hard to argue.
In what was a game of several firsts, including the first time two 15-0 teams have ever met for a CIF Bowl Game title, Central Catholic (16-0) exploded in the second half to turn a one touchdown halftime lead into a 56-21 victory that ended in a running clock.
“All the four teams that won were special but how good are we this year? I’ll put this team up against anyone,” said eighth-year Central Catholic head coach Roger Canepa, whose team had another one of the firsts when they broke into the Cal-Hi Sports Top 25 for the first time ever last week when the Raiders snagged the final spot.
With the victory, Central Catholic also joins De La Salle as the only teams to win four straight CIF bowl game titles.
Besides the other firsts, the appearance of San Marino was the inaugural one for a team from the San Gabriel Valley in a bowl game.
Central Catholic is not the first team to win 16 games, but is only the sixth one to accomplish the feat, joining St. John Bosco and Corona del Mar from 2013, Folsom and Campolindo from last season and Mission Viejo from Friday night.
Central Catholic looked like it had the game in hand in the first half but gave up some big plays and committed several penalties, and after taking a 21-7 lead late in the second quarter the Raiders allowed San Marino to drive 80 yards near the end of the half to cut it to 21-14 at halftime.
Justin Rice, who came into the game as the single season rushing leader at Central Catholic, was somewhat bottled up in the first half despite the Raiders holding the seven-point advantage, however the second half was like a horse of a different color.
After deferring the opening kickoff, Central Catholic got the ball to open the second half and that’s when Rice took over.
Rice only gained 44 yards on 10 carries in the first half, but he had all three carries of a 64-yard drive to open the third quarter, and with a 10-yard penalty he totaled 74 yards on the drive, including a 17-yard touchdown run that opened it up to a 28-14 lead.
“We always think we can come back and probably shouldn’t be coaching if I didn’t,” said San Marino head coach Mike Hobbie, whose team did come back from 35-14 down in the second half to win last week against 14-0 Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth. “It’s still been a great season and this loss will not define us. We’re the best public small school team in the state.”
San Marino played without starting quarterback Carson Glazier, who wanted to play after getting knocked out of the Southern California Open Small 36-35 comeback victory over Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, but doctors would not clear him, and that meant Hobbie had to turn to senior Mark Wicke.
Wicke had scored the late first half touchdown but after Rice gave Central Catholic a two score lead the San Marino senior threw an interception that Central Catholic defensive back DaRon Bland returned 43 yards for a touchdown.
The Raiders got a sack and a stop and on the second play of the ensuing drive, then Rice bolted in from 38 yards out to make it 42-14 and the rout was on. Bland followed up his first pick six with another one from 39 yards out to become the first player in CIF bowl game history to have two interception returns for touchdowns in a game.
“We switched a lot of things blocking-wise at halftime since they were stacking things up in the first half,” said the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Fresno State-bound Rice, who finished with 216 yards rushing on 19 carries with the two scores.
Columbia-bound 6-3, 225-pound Central Catholic quarterback Hunter Petlansky didn’t put up huge numbers but he played error free football and had two touchdown passes, one each to Luke Navarro and his younger brother, Cole Petlansky, a junior who recently returned from an ACL injury.
“Coach Canepa came in with film and we broke down what they were doing and then we made the adjustments,” remarked Hunter Petlansky about the second half changes the Raiders made to seal the deal.
Wicke finished with 199 yards passing and one touchdown but he was intercepted three times and sacked three times. He also ran for 43 yards and a score. Wicke was replaced by sophomore Blake Cabot, who had 118 yards passing but he also threw the second Bland interception.
San Marino 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior wide receiver J.P. Shohfi added to his stellar season with eight catches for 197 yards receiving. That gave him 121 catches in 16 games for 2,464 yards and 29 TDs. His yardage total is a new Cal-Hi Sports state record, surpassing the previous best of 2,108 set in 2011 by Deontay Greenberry of Easton Washington. It’s possible that it’s also a national record.
Central Catholic senior Montel Bland, the cousin of DaRon, rushed for 91 yards and had a 1-yard touchdown run that closed out the scoring.
“I’m just in charge, but it’s the players and the coaching staff. What we’ve done is do a great job of building a program,” said Canepa, who is now 95-18 in his eight years at the Raiders’ helm but is over 200 wins for years at Sonora and Calaveras (San Andreas).
It’s likely Central Catholic will be moved up to Division II next year by the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section and that could make it a lot more difficult for the Raiders to get a shot at a five-peat, but Canepa wasn’t thinking about it too much right now.
“We just do what the CIF asks us to do and we’ll keep doing that, but right now all I can say is four in a row is pretty sweet.”
Historical Win for L.A. City’s Narbonne
(Written by Paul Muyskens)
History was made in the first game of the day at Sacramento State as Narbonne of Harbor City became the first team from the CIF L.A. City Section to capture a state championship on the field with their 28-14 triumph over Clayton Valley of Concord in the Division I-A game.
The only other team from their section to even make it this far was back in 2009 when speedster De’Anthony Thomas and Crenshaw of Los Angeles reached the Open Division championship game where it faced another team from Concord, losing to De La Salle.
“We’ve been to the (L.A.) City final for five years in a row and for us that was cool but this year has always been about getting to the next level and win state,” said Narbonne head coach Manny Douglas. “It feels great.”
Douglas, whose team came into the day at 13-2 and at No. 12 in the State Top 25 rankings, thought it helped that the Gauchos had to play at Ridgeview of Bakersfield to win in its regional bowl game last week.
“That was really good for us,” he said. “It gave us a precursor to how we’d be traveling to a state championship.”
The only other L.A. City school listed as a CIF state champion in football is Manual Arts for 1917. The Toilers, however, did not win that title on the field, instead being awarded the title over Bakersfield. The L.A. City Section also did not exist in 1917, but Manual Arts clearly is an L.A. City school.
“We just couldn’t get a good rhythm going,” said Clayton Valley head coach Tim Murphy, whose 13-2 team (ranked 10th in the state last week) lost in a CIF state bowl game for the second straight year. “We’d get some yards, get some yards then tackled for a loss and too often we couldn’t recover. Against normal teams, we’d also get three or four breakaways in every game. We couldn’t get away from these guys.”
Narbonne wasted no time in taking an early lead with a 60-yard drive in just five plays after the opening kickoff.
Sean Riley punched it in from two yards out, but Clayton Valley responded and scored on its first drive. That one did take much longer (a theme for the day) but the 13-play drive that spanned 79 yards ended with Jake Peralta scoring on fourth down from a yard out.
Both defenses started to settle in before the Gauchos put together a drive right before halftime to take a 14-7 lead. Roman Ale scored the TD on a one-yard run to conclude a 12-play series that took 69 yards in 3:55. That drive also included a big 45-yard pass from Ale to Tre Walker, right after a big holding penalty backed up Narbonne to the 18. There was just 34 seconds left in the second quarter.
Getting the ball to start the second half, the Ugly Eagles, after some bad punts in the first half, decided to go for it on fourth and seven from their own 25 yard line and failed.
On the very next play, it was Riley with a highlight reel-like 27-yard touchdown run to make it a two-score game with 9:45 left in the third quarter. Riley on the afternoon rushed for 93 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries in his final high school game before heading to Arizona next year.
Not backing down from going for it on fourth down, the Ugly Eagles once again went for it on fourth and eight from their own 41-yard line but this time it ended up working when Ray Jackson III took the pitch and was able to find a hole and 59 yards later he was standing in the end zone.
With their lead cut down to seven at 21-14, the Gauchos drove right back down the field behind the running of Riley and Kameron Denmark. After a 21-yard run by Riley, it was Denmark down the right sideline for a 43-yard touchdown run.
“This just means so much to us,” said Denmark, one of several talented juniors who will lead the charge for the Gauchos next season. “It was hard in the first half, but just made adjustments and our offensive line was great.”
Clayton Valley later had a 20-play drive that saw it convert on three fourth-downs and go 72 yards but got no points when a fourth attempt to get a first down on a fourth down play was denied. For the game, the Ugly Eagles were 4 of 9 on fourth down conversion attempts.
Jackson ended the afternoon with 139 yards and one touchdown on 32 carries while Peralta had 123 yards and a score on 27 carries. The Ugly Eagles actually outgained the Gauchos 297-286 in total yards while also having over double the time of possession but the number that meant the most had the Gauchos celebrating at the end of the game.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports
The performance by Custer must have vaulted him to the top of POY. He never left the field and made big play after big play. He was like that all year scoring just about any way possible and making big plays onD and special teams.