The prep football season lives on for Edison High and Huntington Beach.
Both the Chargers and Oilers kept their CIF Southern Section championship hopes alive by winning first-round playoff games Friday. Two other local teams, Fountain Valley and Brethren Christian, both were eight minutes away from advancing from their openers but each, instead, dropped their game on late touchdowns.
Edison and Huntington are in the Southwest Division quarterfinal round, and both will play their second-round games Friday. The Chargers are on the road to take on Villa Park, while the Oilers are home to face San Juan Hills.
San Juan Hills (10-1) vs. Huntington Beach (6-5)
(7:30 p.m., Huntington Beach High)
Following a stirring victory on the road, Huntington returns to the friendly confines of Cap Shue Field to take on San Juan Hills in a Southwest Division quarterfinal game.
The Oilers did something no team had yet done this season — defeat Yorba Linda. They did it on the Mustangs' home turf, too, and came away with a 31-14 first-round triumph.
Coach Eric Lo called it a "great win."
"We are playing really well right now," said Lo, who is taking Huntington to the quarterfinal round for a third consecutive year, for the fourth time in five years, and has put the Oilers in the playoffs in five of his seven years as head coach. "Our guys were ready to play from the opening kickoff. We forced some turnovers and our offense took advantage of a short field."
By the midway point of the first quarter, Huntington, an at-large entry to the playoffs, owned a 17-0 lead. At halftime, the Oilers were in command, leading, 24-0.
They increased the lead to 31-0 early in the third quarter, before Yorba Linda (10-1) got on the scoreboard twice before the quarter was over.
The Mustangs, the No. 2 seed, were the only undefeated team in the division heading into the playoffs.
"With the exception of their two [scoring] drives in the third quarter, I thought we played great defense all game," Lo said. "We went up, 31-0, in the third quarter, and started to go into clock management.
"Yorba Linda's a very, very good team and we got a big win on the road."
The senior tandem of quarterback Kai Ross and receiver Maurice Barber came up with a big game. Ross hit 11 of his 16 passes for 161 yards and four touchdowns. Six of his passes went to Barber, who accounted for 111 yards and three touchdowns.
The Ross-Barber connection resulted in three scoring plays covering 27, 16 and 44 yards.
Senior tight end Connor Kotchnik also took in a 23-yard TD pass.
Senior strong safeties Drew Becker, Jacob Gray, and Skyler Pavloff, senior linebacker Brendan Williams, junior lineman Hojun Lee, all had a fumble recovery. Sophomore end Liam Jimmons caused two of the fumbles, and senior linebacker Sean Mastro caused one fumble.
Junior free safety Brayden McRae had an interception.
"Maurice [Barber] definitely had a standout game, and Connor [Kotchnik] had a great TD catch where he ran over some guys to get to the end zone," Lo said. "Our whole defensive unit played well, and our coaching staff, on both sides of the ball, had a great game plan which our guys went out and executed."
San Juan Hills staged a fourth-quarter comeback to escape Fountain Valley last week. The host Stallions benefited from several Fountain Valley turnovers and rallied from a six-point deficit after three quarters, to pull out a 28-27 first-round victory.
A 58-yard scoring pass from quarterback Jack Gibson (268 yards, three touchdowns) to Mike Miscione with 5:19 to play, put the Stallions up by one point. They held on for the win, and the outcome wiped out a Fountain Valley-Huntington quarterfinal matchup.
San Juan Hills, winner of the Sea View League, brings a six-game win streak into Friday's game.
"They made that huge TD pass at the end of the game to win and advance," Lo said. "They have an exceptional quarterback and their defense plays well and they have two really good safeties who make some plays."
One week after playing a Yorba Linda team that favored the option, the Oilers now face a more balanced offense that includes a strong air attack.
"I think the big key for us Friday is that we have to get our pass defense ready," Lo said. "They can throw the ball. At the same time, they also can run the ball well. We'll have to be ready on both counts."
Edison (8-3) vs. Villa Park (9-2)
(7 p.m., El Modena High)
Teams that met last year in the Southwest Division championship game, meet two weeks earlier this time around.
Defending division champion Edison advanced to the quarterfinal round for the sixth time in nine years by eliminating Cypress, 35-14, in a first-round game Friday. The Chargers, the No. 3 seed in the division, did so by overcoming a slow start — they trailed, 7-0, after one quarter, by scoring 35 consecutive points between the second and third quarters.
"We didn't start off so great but we came back and played really well after the first quarter," Edison Coach Dave White said. "Our defense, with the exception of that big scoring play by [Cypress], played another good game. Our first-team defense only allowed seven points.
"Offensively, I thought we did some good things. [Quarterback] Matt [Gane] had a nice game, and our offensive line did some nice things."
After Cypress (6-5, Empire League No. 3) had scored on a 72-yard pass play less than two minutes into the game, Gane scored on a 13-yard run before he and senior receiver Kiante Goudeau teamed on a 39-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter. Before the half, senior back Marcus Swanigan scored on an 18-yard run.
In the third quarter, Edison went on top, 35-7 when Gane hit junior receiver Jake Favreau on a 36-yard scoring pass, and Swanigan, who also plays defensive end, returned a fumble 61 yards for a touchdown.
Swanigan rushed for 46 yards and in addition to his fumble return for a score on defense, had eight tackles, a quarterback sack, and caused a pass incompletion.
Senior defensive back Marcus Epps had a fumble recovery and interception, junior linebacker Eddie Murray had a fumble recovery, and junior linebacker Manase Time had two sacks.
The Edison defense has held five opponents to a touchdown or less, and has posted two shutouts.
Century League co-champion Villa Park has won six in a row including last week's 66-40 first-round win over Buena Park. The Spartans put up 56 points in the second half after trailing the Coyotes, 13-10, at halftime.
The Spartans' run game reached the end zone eight times and backs Ian Pogue and Charles Kendrick led the way with 124 and 102 yards, respectively.
Edison won the Southwest Division championship a year ago, defeating Villa Park, 28-10, at Anaheim Stadium.
"They are a pretty similar team to the one we faced last year, but their quarterback [Dylan Osborne] is now a veteran and has thrown for more yardage. Defensively, they are tough against the run and I really think the team that comes into the game sharp, and doesn't turn the ball over, will win."
One concern for White and the Chargers is the availability of key, two-way lineman Tico Fuga. The senior injured his knee last week and is questionable for Friday, White said.
Barons drop opener
Fountain Valley saw its season come to an end last Friday in San Juan Capistrano after San Juan Hills scored the go-ahead touchdown with 5:19 remaining in the game to edge the Barons, 28-27, in a Southwest Division opener.
Senior receiver Noah Rivard scored on a 22-yard pass from senior quarterback Scott Schultz, junior middle linebacker Hunter Margain returned an interception 22 yards for a touchdown, senior back Isaiah Davis scored on a two-yard run, and kicker Jonah Mack hit field goals of 32 and 40 yards.
The Barons turned the ball over three times inside the San Juan Hills five-yard line.
The Stallions won the Sea View League championship.
"We certainly had our chances but it was not our night," Fountain Valley Coach Ray Fenton said. "San Juan Hills is a really good football team and you can't turn the ball over like that, and expect to win. It was just one of those games."
Fountain Valley, which tied for second place in the Sunset League, ended the season 7-4 in Fenton's first year as head coach.
"I loved the way our coaching staff received support this year, not just from the players, but from the entire school," Fenton said. "Our administration, teachers, and students, all embraced us and we were well received. That created a great atmosphere on campus, and everyone was excited for the season."
Warriors' rally big, fall
Brethren Christian went to Indio Friday for a first-round game against Shadow Hills and fell behind, 23-0, in the first quarter, rallied to take a one-point lead (24-23) into the fourth quarter, but ended up falling, 31-24, to the Knights (De Anza League No. 2) in an East Valley Division first-round game.
BC senior quarterback Jack McInally was 25 of 45 for 325 yards. Senior receiver Austin Gorrell had seven receptions for 104 yards with two touchdowns, and he also scored on a blocked punt return.
Junior receiver Guy Demazeliere had 10 catches for 143 yards.
"We just couldn't stop their running game," BC Coach Pat McInally said. "We had a great comeback but just couldn't hold on.
"Our passing game was great. Guy [Demazeliere] and Austin [Gorrell] both played a great game both on offense and defense.
The Warriors, the second-place team from the Academy League, closed out an 8-3 campaign.
"It was an exciting year and I'm very proud of this team for what it accomplished," said McInally whose two previous BC teams each won six games the two previous years. "We fell behind, 23-0, but our guys never quit. They gave it their all."