HIGH SCHOOLS : 3-A Football Playoffs : Line Leads Morse Back to Championship Game
John Shacklett, the Morse High football coach and a man with a plan, paced the sideline at Southwestern College Friday night looking like a man worried about that plan.
Even after the Tigers’ offensive line pushed Chula Vista’s defense backward, as Shacklett expected it would, and led a 70-yard touchdown drive on Morse’s first possession, Shacklett paced.
And after Morse got the ball again and drove 60 yards for a 14-0 lead after the first quarter, Shacklett paced some more.
“We were doing everything I knew we could, but I was still worried,” Shacklett said.
It turned out that there was no need for concern. Morse leveled off but still beat Chula Vista, 27-6, to advance to the San Diego Section 3-A championship for the second consecutive year.
Morse will play either top-seeded Orange Glen or City Eastern League rival Point Loma in the title game next Saturday night in San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium. Orange Glen and Point Loma play tonight.
Last year, Point Loma defeated Morse, 16-14, for the 3-A championship. And Shacklett just can’t forget that his Tigers opened a 14-0 lead in that game.
“That’s why I can’t relax up (by) two touchdowns,” Shacklett said. “I knew that we needed that third score before I could relax.”
The first two seemed easy enough to obtain.
Using running backs Jessie Campbell and Darrell Greene on almost every play, Morse just lined up, called signals and blew Chula Vista off the line of scrimmage.
Greene ran 8 yards to cap the opening drive, and Campbell weaved his way 10 yards to put an end to the second one.
“It was everything I hoped we’d be able to do,” Shacklett said. “We knew we were bigger, and we figured they’d have to have to beat our big guys up front to stop us.”
As the game wore on, it became apparent that Shacklett could have come with any plan and still won.
Chula Vista (8-4), which plays 16 underclassmen at various times, is a young team that could hit its stride next season. But the Spartans were neither strong nor quick enough on this night.
Midway through the third quarter, Chula Vista quarterback Derek Chapman turned to hand off to tailback John Krupp on an off-tackle play. But Morse nose guard Junior Salas had split the offensive line and was in the backfield to take the ball instead.
Salas knocked the ball loose and recovered on the Chula Vista 10. Four plays later, Ututofo Fiame scored from a yard out to give Shacklett his all important third score and a 21-0 lead.
German Puented kicked field goals of 21 and 32 yards to account for Morse’s final six points. Chula Vista scored on Krupp’s 10-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
By then, Shacklett had stopped pacing.