Talk about peaking at the right time.
Huntington Beach High won half of its games during the 10-game 2013 prep football season and after finishing behind four rivals in the Sunset League standings, the Oilers needed to land an at-large berth just to get into the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division playoffs.
They were awarded that bid, and in the past two weeks, have gone out and made the utmost of their opportunity.
For the second consecutive week in the postseason, Huntington jumped all over its opponent early on and the end result, once again, was a one-sided victory. This time, Friday's 42-12 romp past visiting San Juan Hills put Huntington in a rare spot: the playoff semifinals.
The Oilers, 7-5, will face a familiar foe in the semifinal round: Sunset League rival Edison. The teams will meet at 7 p.m. next Friday at Orange Coast College.
The winner of that game will play for the Southwest Division championship Dec. 7 at Anaheim Stadium.
Edison, the defending champion in the division, moved on to the semifinals by shutting down host Villa Park, 10-0, Friday.
Huntington had reached Friday's quarterfinal game against Sea View League champion San Juan Hills by going on the road last week to knock off previously undefeated and No. 2-seeded Yorba Linda, 31-14.
In a two-week span of the playoffs, the Oilers have defeated teams that were 10-0, and 10-1.
Yes, this looks like a new Huntington team. But, the Oilers might have left a clue as to what could be, when, in their regular season finale Nov. 8, they whipped Newport Harbor, 40-14, to deny the Sailors a share of the Sunset League championship.
"It's just a different vibe we've had at practice the past few weeks," said two-way Huntington starter, senior Sean Mastro, after the win. "Ever since the Fountain Valley game, we kind of came together. We're excited to be playing. We're hitting our stride these past few weeks."
In last week's 31-14 win at Yorba Linda, the Oilers pounced on the Mustangs in the first quarter, taking a 17-0 lead. They led, 31-0, in the third quarter to win going away.
The scenario for the Oilers was much the same Friday at Cap Sheue Field. They led, 21-0, with four minutes still to play in the opening quarter, and were in complete command by the half, leading, 34-0.
They went up, 42-0, late in the third quarter, and still leading by the same score heading into the fourth quarter, the game turned to a running clock.
"We just came out and got on them early. We've been doing that lately," Huntington Coach Eric Lo said. "I thought our defense played great all night long. We are playing our best football of the season."
Huntington wasted little time in getting a jump-start on a San Juan Hills team that last week came back to edge Fountain Valley, 28-27, in a first-round game. On the first offensive play from scrimmage, Oiler senior quarterback Kai Ross bolted up the middle and went the distance on a 77-yard scoring run only 18 seconds into the game.
"We actually had wanted a zone play where [Ross] could throw it to a receiver, but their safety came up," Lo said. "Kai kept it. It wasn't a planned play."
But it worked, as did most everything else in the opening half for the Oilers who scored on each of their five possessions.
A fumble recovery and return by sophomore defensive end Liam Jimmons on San Juan Hills' first possession set up Huntington at the Stallions' 37-yard line. Sophomore running back Travis Heer ripped his way for a 32-yard gain to the five on a first-down run, then on the next play, Heer went straight up the middle into the end zone to make it 14-0 with 9:34 still left in the quarter.
Before the quarter was completed, Ross hit senior receiver Maurice Barber on an inside screen for a five-yard touchdown with 4:04 on the clock.
It was the first of four scoring plays between the pair which teamed up again on Huntington's next score, a 31-yard pass play on the first play of the second quarter. Ross lofted his pass down the left sideline and Barber ran under it at the seven, then went in for the score for a 28-0 lead.
On the next play from scrimmage, junior free safety Brayden McRae intercepted San Juan Hills quarterback Jack Gibson near midfield and McRae returned the ball down to the nine, but a personal foul call against the Oilers pushed the ball back to the 26. A procedure penalty, and another personal foul call against the Oilers during the possession, still couldn't prevent them from again reaching the end zone.
It happened with 5:53 remaining in the half when Ross thew to the right corner of the end zone where Barber recorded his third touchdown on an eight-yard pass play for a 34-0 lead.
The Oilers ran at will on the Stallions (10-2), repeatedly attacking the middle of the field in the half. Time and again, both Ross and Heer were nearly eight-to-10 yards downfield, before being touched.
"Our offensive line was just very physical tonight," Lo said. "They were knocking guys back. Travis (Heer) ran hard and played a great game, and Mo (Barber) played a great game."
By halftime, Heer had run for 135 yards on only nine carries. In the second half, he appeared to have scored on a 49-yard late in the third quarter, but the play was negated by a personal foul call against the Oilers.
Heer went on to lead all rushers with 175 yards.
Huntington's defense came up with four sacks in the first half and held the Stallions to minus-five rushing yards.
Ross and Barber struck one final time with 3:34 left in the third quarter. Facing third and seven from his own 41, Ross sent a pass down the middle of the field toward Barber who had slipped past the San Juan Hills secondary. Barber made the catch at the Stallions' 27, then raced untouched to the end zone. The 59-yard scoring play put the score at 42-0.
Barber also had a big defensive play on the next San Juan Hills series when he came up with a fumble recovery after a pass completion.
Ross, who threw for 125 yards and rushed for 106 more, excited the contest after Huntington's final score, Junior Chad James quarterbacked the Oilers the remainder of the game.
San Juan Hills scored both of its touchdowns following a pair of Huntington fumbles in the fourth quarter, using a short field to score on both occasions.
Three Sunset League teams are in the semifinals. In addition to the Huntington-Edison matchup, the other Southwest Division semifinal Nov. 29 will pit Newport Harbor (7-5) against Fullerton (10-2, Freeway League No. 2). Newport Harbor, which finished tied with Fountain Valley and Los Alamitos for second place in the Sunset League, shocked top-ranked and Freeway League champ La Habra (10-2), 49-48.
Fullerton prevented the division semifinals from being an all-Sunset League affair by knocking off Los Alamitos (9-3), 21-7.
Lo said his team is looking forward to seeing Edison again.
The Chargers defeated the Oilers, 48-6, on the opening night of Sunset League play Oct. 11.
"We're anxious to play them," he said.