SOUTHERN SECTION

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Saturday, Dec. 11

SOUTHERN SECTION PLAYOFFS

Finals

DIVISION II

Mission Viejo 49, Valencia 21
It was only appropriate, really. Mission Viejo took on the toughest competition it could find this season. Los Alamitos. Santa Ana Mater Dei. Long Beach Poly. Concord De La Salle.

By choice, the Diablos played four nonleague teams ranked in the state top 10 in the state.

On Saturday at Angel Stadium, Mission Viejo's final opponent - No. 7 Valencia came by assignment in the Southern Section Division II championship game.And it turned into an easy opponent one.

Top-seeded Mission Viejo completed its perfect season in resounding fashion, with a dominant performance in a 49-21 victory over Valencia for the Southern Section Division II title, its third Division II title in four years.

Mission Viejo (14-0), which was unbeaten and lost before losing last year's final to Newhall Hart, started the season at No. 1 in the

Southland and will finish it No. 1 in the state. As for mythical titles, the Diablos are still No. 2 nationally in the Student Sports ranking after Southlake (Texas) Carroll beat previously undefeated Lufkin, 37-30, in a state 5A Division II semifinal on Saturday at Baylor University.

"We definitely tried to come out and win big," said Moline, whose brother, Chase, is the only two-way starter for the Diablos. "We knew they couldn't go four quarters. They're small, we're smash mouth."

The smashed Vikings became another notch on the Diablo belt, an 11th team among 14 opponents that they scored on in either its with their first or second possession.

Any thoughts Valencia (12-2) - ranked fifth in the Southland - had of an upset had to be distant midway through the second quarter. Mission Viejo had gone up 21-0 and had yet to allow a team an opponent more than 21 points this season.

Mission Viejo, with too much balance for its opponents to handle this season, struck by land and air Saturday. Mark Sanchez passed for a 53-yard touchdown, Chane Mo-line ran for three scores - all before halftime. Moline finished with five touchdown runs, of one, three, 19, five and one yard.

By the time they finished - the reserves officially took over with 7 minutes 3 seconds remaining - the Diablo starters had piled on 431 yards and 49 points against a team whose only other loss was to the Southland's No. 2 team, Division III champion Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, 33-3. Although Notre Dame, too, was a phy-sical team, Valencia Coach Brian Stiman said there were other factors that played into that contest.

The only factor that played into this one was Mission Viejo. Sanchez completed 12 of 19 passes for 181 yards. Moline rushed 23 times for 115 yards. The defense finished with six sacks of Herrick, who passed for 350 yards, going over 4,000 in the season, and two touchdowns, giving him 33. He had 216 yards through three quarters and trailed, 42-7.

"The only way you can put it is they're an all-star team," Stiman said. "They're the best team I've seen in 24 years of coaching. We played Dana Hills, San Clemente teams from their league, and they didn't have any players like that.

"They're the best team in the state of California with all the best players."

Four touchdowns by Mission Viejo came after getting excellent field position, at its own 40, the Valencia 35, three and 27. But the Diablos also had scoring drives that covered 89, 80 and 80 yards.The defense intercepted Herrick three times, by Garrett Rubio, Chris Holmesly and Will Taylor each intercepted a Herrick pass. The latter two set up touchdowns - Holmesly's 52-yard return set up a three-yard drive that Moline polished off in four seconds for a 21-0 lead.

"I don't know too many high school teams that can compete with this team," said Bret Johnson, son of coach Bob Johnson and Mission View's offensive coordinator. "There will be seven or eight Division I players in this senior class, and five in the junior class."

The obvious question: Will the Diablos be as good next year?

"No," said Bret Johnson, assistant coach and son of Coach Bob Johnson. "But we'll be good."

--Martin Henderson

DIVISION VI

Orange Luthern 35, Newport Harbor 6
Aaron Corp became the starting quarterback for Orange Lutheran four games into the season, but the sophomore was supposed to be holding the spot until the return of senior Seth Blackamore, a Southern Section Division VI co-player of the year last season.

But on Saturday afternoon in front of 8,204 at Angel Stadium, Corp delivered the biggest of his 10 consecutive wins as the starting quarterback, leading the top-seeded Lancers to their first section championship, a 35-6 victory over second-seeded and previously undefeated Newport Harbor (12-1-1).

It is Lutheran's first title in six championship-game appearances. The Lancers have been to the finals four times in the last five years.

Corp, who opened the game with a 32-yard strike to Cory Olson, guided the Lancers (13-1) to touchdowns on their first four possessions and the defense did its part as Lutheran opened a 28-0 halftime lead.

In total, the Lancers ran 63 plays for 396 yards to Newport Harbor's 37 and 159, which included 13 yards rushing in 13 attempts.

"This is what's happened since the Mater Dei game in Week 1," said Jim Kunau, referencing his team's 21-7 loss. "The defense played like they have all year long, relentlessly."

Pat Roxas, who rushed 18 times for 105 yards, scored on one- and two-yard runs. Donny Lee scored on 16- and four-yard runs and Corp added a 12-yard touchdown.

Blackamore suffered a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament this summer but he was expected back during league play. Last week, when he looked like the old Blackamore in a relief role during a 21-3 victory over Villa Park, he went down in a heap on his rehabilitated knee, re-straining the ligament.

The Air Force-bound quarterback took a couple of courtesy snaps in the final two minutes, and Kunau had him accept the championship plaque.

"If Aaron wasn't doing too good and was having trouble, I was going to go," said Blackamore. "They didn't need me. He was awesome."

Newport Harbor thought so, too.

"The young kid ran the ball real well ... that created the problems," Newport Harbor Coach Jeff Brinkley said.

Corp rushed 15 times for 126 yards. He also completed 11 of 12 passses for 117 yards.

He didn't make his first mistake until the third quarter when he fumbled on a 16-yard gain. Newport Harbor went 65 yards in three plays, the last 41 yards on a Kasey Peters pass to Alex Orth.

Lutheran blocked the point-after attempt, and the offense responded with a 13-play, 70-yard drive that killed 6:26 on the clock. On Newport Harbor's next possession. Brandon Rohr intercepted a pass at the six.

There wasn't much that didn't go Lutheran's way. A year ago, it lost in the finals to Hacienda Heights Los Altos after Blackamore was knocked out of the game in the third quarter. This time, the Lancers didn't need him.

--Martin Henderson

DIVISION VIII

Serrano 25, Palm Springs 18
Of course it came down to defense. With Phelan Serrano, it almost always does.

The Diamondback defense came up with several crucial plays down the stretch, ultimately stopping Palm Springs on fourth down at the Serrano 23 yard line with 19 seconds left to play and won, 25-18, in the Southern Section Division VIII title game Saturday night at Serrano.

It is the first section title for Serrano and the town of Phelan couldn't have been happier. An overflow crowd of about 5,000 fans flooded the field after the game and a police helicopter circled over the field sounding a congratulatory siren.

"It's a phenomenal thing for these kids, our program and this town," said Coach Ray Maholchil, who took over a struggling program in 1992 and has turned it into a perennial league champion. "For me, it's like watching the growth of a child from infancy to adulthood."

Serrano (14-0) capped a perfect season, something it couldn't do two years ago when it entered the final undefeated, but lost to Fontana Kaiser. Credit a defense that has been the backbone of the team all season, having allowed only 10.5 points a game before Saturday.

Facing a Palm Springs team that averaged 44.1 points a game and had been held under 30 only three times, the Diamondback defense yielded only two touchdowns.

Justin Jackson had the key play for Serrano, a 49-yard interception return for a touchdown that broke an 18-18 tie with 3 minutes, 39 seconds left in the game. Seven plays later, with Palm Springs at midfield, Jackson had another interception with 2:02 remaining.

The Indians (12-2), also searching for their first section title, held Serrano to a three and out, used its timeouts on defense, and got the ball back on their 16 with 1:28 to play. They drove 61 yards before Serrano made its final defensive stand.

"We were all hoping it would come down our defense," said Jackson, who also had a first-half interception that set up a touchdown and a 18-8 Serrano lead at halftime.. "It doesn't get any better than that."

Marcos Cabrera led the ball-control offense for Serrano with 91 yards in 25 carries. A.J. Scott had 115 yards and a touchdown in 17 carries for Palm Springs and Indian quarterback Scott Saunders completed 18 of 35 passes for 164 yards.

--Peter Yoon

DIVISION XI

Oaks Christian 39, Oak Park 21
With injuries mounting and concern growing, Aaron Ware scored on an 11-yard run and a 60-yard pass play from Jimmy Clausen as the Lions (14-0) pulled away in the second half.

Oak Park (12-2) took a 21-20 halftime lead on Josh Moskowitz's 26-yard pass reception from Doug Deakin late in the second quarter. Moskowitz, who earlier scored on an eight-yard run, finished with 91 yards in 17 carries. Deakin passed for 168 yards.

Oaks Christian was hampered in the first half when running back Marc Tyler left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury. Marshall Jones had a 60-yard interception return and a 59-yard reverse run for first-half touchdowns for the Lions.

--Eric Sondheimer

DIVISION XII

Grace Brethren 34, Ontario Christian 6
Chad Kackert cemented his name at No. 4 on the state's single-season rushing list and the Lancers won their first 11-man title in the Division XII final at Ontario Christian.

Kackert, a 5-foot-8, 177-pound senior, rushed for 152 yards in 13 carries and scored twice for second-seeded Grace Brethren (12-1). His 55-yard touchdown run late in the first half gave the Lancers a 26-0 lead and moved him past DeShaun Foster of Tustin and John Bordenkircher of Dixon, who set their single-season marks in 1997. Kackert finished the season with 3,438 yards.

"As far as my personal accomplishments, this was really unexpected," Kackert said. "If you had seen me three years ago, I was just this little kid who liked to skate-board."

Grace Brethren didn't rely solely on Kackert against the top-seeded Knights (12-2).

Rick Elmore, a 6-5, 235-pound junior, scored twice on first-half runs from his quarterback position and had three sacks on defense. On Ontario Christian's first possession of the second half, Elmore knocked the ball from the grasp of quarterback

Lance Cromer and it was picked out of the air by his twin, Corey, who returned it 29 yards for a touchdown.

--Dan Arritt

DIVISION XIII

Anza Hamilton 13, Rio Hondo Prep 0
David Quinonez rushed for 263 yards and a touchdown in 36 carries and Jon Anderson gained 67 yards in 12 carries and scored once for Anza Hamilton, which won its first Southern Section Division XIII title with a victory over visiting Rio Hondo Prep.

Senior free saftety Alberto Santillian intercepted two passes and finished the season with six for Hamilton (13-1), which was making its third appearance in a championship game. The Bobcats finished the season on a seven-game winning streak.

Anderson scored Hamilton's first touchdown on a one-yard run in the first quarter and Quinonez scored on a three-yard run in the third period.

Friday, Dec. 10

DIVISION I

Long Beach Poly 21, Los Alamitos 6

DIVISION III

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 38, Dominguez 21

DIVISION IV

St. Bonaventure 42, Ventura 14
The ball bounced the Seraphs' way on their first two touchdowns to silence an overflow crowd of about 6,500 at Ventura High as Ventura St. Bonaventure cruised to the Division IV title, its fifth section title in six years and first since 2002.

St. Bonaventure receiver Derek Wilson fumbled after taking a pass from Samson Szakacsy 40 yards to the Ventura one-yard line midway through the first quarter, but the ball wound up in the hands of teammate Cory Finnerty for a touchdown.

The top-seeded Seraphs made it 14-0 early in the second quarter after Ventura quarterback Lee Mondol tossed a lateral over the head of a teammate and linebacker Steven Lippert scooped up the ball and ran for a 32-yard touchdown.

Six players scored touchdowns for St. Bonaventure (13-1), which led, 28-0, at halftime and answered both of the Cougars' second-half scores with touchdowns on kickoff returns. Matt Lee returned one kickoff 87 yards and Tommy Dixon ran back an onside kick 47 yards.

Running back Tyler Clark gained 111 of his 122 yards in the second half for Ventura (11-3), which lost to its Channel League foe for the second time this season despite piling up 378 yards of offense to St. Bonaventure's 160.

--Ben Bolch

DIVISION V

Corona Centennial 49, Norco 35
For all of the offense that took place in the Southern Section Division V championship game-- and there was plenty Friday night at Riverside Norte Vista High -- defense once again proved to win championships.

Corona Centennial forced three second-half turnovers, two in the last seven minutes, 32 seconds, and turned them all into touchdowns during a 49-35 victory over Norco.

It is the third section title for Centennial (13-1) which won its last 13 games of the season after starting with a loss to Long Beach Poly. Centennial also won in 2000 and 2002.

Brandon Minor rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns in 28 carries for Centennial and Dashan Miller had touchdown run, reception and pass, but the Centennial defense, which yielded 301 yards, put on the clamps down the stretch.

with the scored tied at 35-35, Centennial driving and 7:32 remaining, Norco (12-2) intercepted a pass at their goal line and returned it 40 yards. ON the next play, Centennial forced a fumble and recovered it. It was the second time Centennial got a turnover one play after losing one.

The Huskies then drove 37 yards in five plays for a touchdown and 42-35 lead. Two plays later, Centennial's Stephen Elkins came up with a Norco fumble at the Cougar 30 and Centennial needed only five plays to take a 49-35 lead with 2:44 remaining.

"The defense was the biggest part," said defensive back Yul Hawkins, who had a 49-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave Centennial 35-28 lead. "We had those big turnovers and they set the tone for the rest of the game."

Norco continually rode running back Toby Gerhart and for most of the game he delivered, finishing with 223 yards and all five Cougar touchdowns in 34 carries. But going to him play after play may have worn him down. He had 232 yards in 29 carries through three quarters and carried the ball on 35 of Norco's 54 plays for the game.

--Peter Yoon

DIVISION VII

West Covina 19, South Hills 8
West Covina put West Covina South Hills in a hole on the game's first play from scrimmage, and the Bulldogs' defense kept it there in the Division VII final at Mt. San Antonio College.

The victory gave West Covina (11-2-1) its first section title since 1965 and avenged a 17-10 loss earlier this season to South Hills, the two-time defending division champion.

West Covina, which placed third in the San Antonio League, took a 6-0 lead on a 69-yard touchdown run by Walter Thurmond on a quarterback option 25 seconds into the game.

"They weren't expecting it," said Thurmond about taking his first snap at quarterback this season. "We just caught them off guard."

The Bulldogs boosted their lead to 19-0 at the half on two one-yard touchdown runs by sophomore quarterback George Munoz.

West Covina bothered South Hills quarterback Kevin Mort from the start, sacking him three times on the Huskies' first two possessions. He didn't have a completion in the first half and finished 12 of 23 for 120 yards.

"A lot of times they dropped eight people," Mort said. "It's hard to throw against eight guys, but, then again, I threw three interceptions."

Thurmond intercepted a pass on South Hills' third possession, setting up Munoz's second touchdown run.

Thurmond also moved the chains on three first-half receptions on third-down plays and finished with six carries for 94 yards.

--Dan Arritt

DIVISION IX

Tesoro 21, Western 14
In only its third year of varsity football, the Titans won their first title in the Division IX final at Orange Coast College.

Second-seeded Rancho Santa Margarita Tesoro withstood a late rally from top-seeded Anaheim Western (2-2), which lost in the title game for the second consecutive year.

Senior running back Evan Handa scored all three touchdowns for Tesoro (12-2), which led at the half, 14-7.

Handa, who finished with 112 yards rushing and 66 receiving, scored from two yards out to put the Titans up, 21-7, with 7 minutes 37 seconds left in the third quarter. Handa had scored in the first quarter when he took a swing pass and went 55 yards and also in the second quarter on an eight-yard run.

Western made it 21-14 when sophomore Devonte Merrifield, who rushed for 178 yards and a touchdown, took a low punt on the run and zoomed 30 yards to the end zone with 2:21 left to play. The Pioneers then recovered an onside kick at the Tesoro 42.But Tesoro's defense put on an impressive show over the next four downs to clinch the title.

Two running plays resulted in no gain and a loss of two. On third down, linebacker Tony Leo sacked quarterback Anthony Trillo for an eight-yard loss with 18 seconds left. Tillo's fourth-down pass was incomplete.

"It feels unbelievable," Tesoro Coach Jim O'Connell said. "I'm not really sure what else to say."

The loss left Western's players and coaches frustrated about missed opportunities and turnovers. All three Tesoro scores came off turnovers and the Pioneers failed twice to score from inside the Titans' 10.

The Pioneers started with an 80-yard drive, all running plays, that ended when Merrifield raced around the right side for a 28-yard scoring run midway in the first quarter. Joe Brown had 39 of his 116 yards on the first drive.

Western reached the Tesoro six but Trillo's pass feel incomplete on fourth down and two. The Pioneers reached the Tesoro six agaiin with 3:34 left in the game, but the exchange from center was fumbled and Teroro's Rob Simmons recovered.

"We just had too many mistakes," said Western Coach Toby Howell. "We didn't help ourselves very much. We were too inconsistent."

--Steve Kresal

DIVISION X

Crespi 32, North Torrance 14
Randle Harris ran 35 times for 306 yards and three touchdowns, including a 64-yarder to give the Celts a 17-14 lead with 4:44 left in the third quarter, and host Crespi cruised the rest of the way to the Division X championship at Pierce College.Fourth-seeded Crespi (10-4) won its first section title since 1986.

Second-seeded North Torrance (12-2) trailed, 10-0, midway through the third quarter before Anthony Ramos intercepted a pass from Matt Wabby and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown. Mike Jones intercepted another errant Wabby pass less than a minute later and returned it 20 yards for a score to give the Saxons' their only lead of the game, 14-10, with five minutes left in the third quarter.

Sean Conway kicked a 41-yard field goal in the first quarter and Wabby ran for a 15-yard touchdown with 6:29 left in the first half to give Crespi a 10-0 halftime lead.

Harris, who ran for 220 yards in the second half, scored on runs of 14 and 22 yards in the fourth quarter as Crespi out-gained North Torrance, 434 yards to 89, on the game.Andrew Banks ran 12 times for 51 yards for North Torrance, which had its 12-game winning streak ended.

--Mayar Zokaei

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