1-A Division : Duhala Leads Coronado to Title

Times Staff Writer

“Ha! Ha!” Coronado quarterback Noia Duhala said Saturday night. Funny, but last season, people always said “Ha! Ha!” to him.

So what a difference an “A” makes. Last year, Coronado was winless as a 2-A team, but it dropped to 1-A this year and ended up winning the San Diego Section championship Saturday night, defeating Mountain Empire, 28-6.

“Last year, it was just an embarrassment to play for Coronado,” Duhala said. “Gee, it’s pretty neat, now.”


Duhala played a neat game. On the first play from scrimmage, he threw a 66-yard touchdown pass to Erik Carpenter, and after his defense recovered a fumble minutes later, he hit Paul Austin with a 10-yard touchdown.

Later, after Mountain Empire closed to 14-6 in the second half, Duhala hit Alan Lane with another touchdown pass. That’s three scoring passes by a quarterback who admits he can’t throw worth “nothin.”

“I’m not a passer,” he said. “I can throw a ball about 40 yards, I guess.”

The passer was supposed to be Mountain Empire’s Tim Johnson, a 6-foot 3-inch sophomore who had thrown for more than 300 yards in his last three games. But Coronado double-teamed Johnson’s favorite receiver, J.J. Saska (holding him to two catches), and Johnson ended up throwing for just 152 yards.

He had five interceptions, too, the last of which was returned 35 yards for a touchdown by Joel Fetters.

“We scouted them (Mountain Empire) against Santa Fe Christian, and Saska caught four TDs,” said Coronado Coach Dave Tupek, whose team lost to Mountain Empire earlier this season. “We put two of our best athletes on him and shut him down.”

And now they’re champs.

“Not chumps,” Tupek said.