The most successful regular season in history will have to do for the Ocean View High football team.
The Seahawks, who opened the season ranked No. 1 in CIF Southern Section Division 11, went 9-1 to earn a share of the program’s first league championship in 29 years, and set a program record for regular-season wins, saw their season end in a 30-14 first-round playoff loss at Irvine on Friday night.
The Vaqueros (5-6) played what coach Erik Terry said was by far their best game of the season to earn the upset, their first playoff win since 2013.
Irvine scored on four of its five first-half possessions and won every facet of this contest against the Pac 4 League tri-champion Seahawks (9-2), who entered with the No. 4 seed despite having to settle for an at-large entry after losing a three-way coin flip.
The at-large status also put Ocean View on the road, and the Vaqueros, who shared second place in the Pacific Coast League, got big performances from some reliable standouts, as well as some upstart heroes to send the Seahawks home and Irvine to the quarterfinals.
Irvine will play at Hemet (7-4) in the next round on Nov. 9. Hemet, the third-place team from the Mountain Pass League, defeated Colton 42-28 in its playoff opener at home on Friday.
[The players] have nothing to be ashamed of. They won the first league title in 29 years and were a win away from winning 10 games.
Ocean View, which trailed 24-0 at halftime, used eight plays to drive 68 yards with the second-half kickoff to inspire some hope.
But after forcing the Vaqueros’ only punt, a strip sack by Irvine’s Tyler Paulin created a fumble the hosts recovered near midfield. The turnover, the second of two lost Ocean View fumbles, set up a clinching touchdown drive that was aided by a fake punt.
The fake punt set up a 13-yard scoring pass from Mark Filia to Jacob Sears that made it 30-7 with 9:19 left in the game.
Irvine followed with what Terry called a successful, but unintentional onside kickoff and the Ocean View offense had only one final possession, which it punched into the end zone with 3:19 left.
“We just didn’t execute,” Ocean View coach Luis Nuñez said. “We came out and made some mistakes early on and if you don’t execute in the playoffs …. My hats off to Coach Terry and their staff. [Irvine] was the better team tonight.”
Nuñez’s team was hurt by the two turnovers, as well as 13 penalties for 115 yards. Perhaps overconfidence worked against the Seahawks, Nuñez admitted.
“It’s hard when [Ocean View players making the school’s first playoff appearance since 2014] see a 4-6 team and we’re coming off one of the biggest wins in school history,” said Nuñez, citing a 45-7 regular-season-ending triumph over Western that created a three-way logjam atop the Pac 4 League standings.
“The pros, after a big win, have a hard time rebounding,” Nuñez added. “Our kids had a hard time rebounding in the first half. Just like we did at [Laguna Beach, which topped Ocean View 38-21 on Oct. 19] we came out flat and didn’t execute.”
After Irvine turned its first possession into a 27-yard field goal, Ocean View drove from its own five-yard line to the Ocean View eight, before a 25-yard field goal attempt missed the mark.
Irvine scored on the ensuing possession and upped the lead after recovering a Seahawks fumble to make it 17-0.
Senior quarterback Noah Hickman completed seven of 10 passes for 94 yards and carried 22 times for 85 yards for the Seahawks. Senior running back Rodrigo Adame had 107 yards on eight carries, including a 17-yard touchdown.
But a disciplined and aggressive Irvine defense held the Seahawks 30 points below their season average.
Irvine had 399 yards of offense, 69 more than the Seahawks.
Irvine senior Dany Frukacz, who had one touchdown all season, scored on a 12-yard run and a 25-yard screen pass.
Irvine senior Lorenzo Bazzani, who had 40 yards on eight attempts during the regular season, rumbled for a 69-yard touchdown late in the first half, his first of the season, to add to the hosts’ windfall.
Nuñez said his team has much to celebrate this season.
“It has been an unreal ride that unfortunately ended tonight,” Nuñez said. “[The players] have nothing to be ashamed of. They won the first league title in 29 years and were a win away from winning 10 games. That’s very difficult to do.”
CIF Southern Section Division 11 playoffs
Irvine 30, Ocean View 14
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Ocean View 0 – 0 – 7 – 7 — 14
Irvine 3 – 21 – 0 – 6 — 30
I – Tanikawa kick 27 FG, 10:07.
I – Frukacz 12 run (Tanikawa kick), 11:10.
I – Frukacz 25 pass from Filia (Tanikawa kick), 8:14.
I – Bazzani 69 run (Tanikawa kick), 1:33.
OV – Earthman 7 pass from Hickman (Stead kick), 7:52.
I – Sears 13 pass from Filia (kick failed), 9:19.
OV –Adame 17 run (Stead kick), 3:19.
OV – Adame, 8-107, 1 TD.
I – Bazzani, 2-74, 1 TD.
OV – Hickman, 7-10-0, 94, 1 TD.
I – Filia, 13-21-0, 163, 2 TDs.
OV – Earthman, 4-47, 1 TD.
I – Tanikawa, 4-51.
BARRY FAULKNER is a contributor to Times Community News. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryFaulkner5