The second half of the 2015 prep sports season began with the start of the new school year. The fall sports season began for local schools in August and later segued into the winter sports season in the final few weeks before the end of the year.
Below is Part 2 of the Prep Sports Year in Review, touching on some key highlights that appeared in the Independent in the second half of 2015.
August through December
Kickoff to the football season launched the fall sports schedule in late-August and by season’s end, three local teams had played their way into the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
In league finales the first week in November, Edison defeated Newport Harbor to lay claim to an undisputed Sunset League championship, Fountain Valley turned back the challenge of Huntington Beach to finish runner-up to the Sunset title, and Brethren Christian fought its way to a piece of the Academy League crown with an impressive victory over Crean Lutheran. All three teams gained automatic berths for postseason play.
In CIF playoff openers, injury-riddled Edison and Fountain Valley both were upended in first-round West Valley Division games by Rancho Cucamonga and Murrieta Valley, respectively, and BC beat Riverside Sherman Indian in East Valley Division action. The Warriors won their quarterfinal game against Temecula Rancho Christian, as well, to move on to the semifinal round. There, they lost a wild game to top-ranked Simi Valley Grace Brethren and finished the year 11-2.
The high-scoring Warriors, paced by junior running back Jordan Leonard who led Orange County in rushing yards (2,637) and scoring (240), won an Academy League championship for the first time since 2002, and won nine games in a season for the first time since 1992.
“We had a great year,” BC Coach Pat McInally said after the semifinal loss. “Our kids played hard and we are young and have a lot of talent coming back next year.”
The season came to a close at the conclusion of the 10-game regular season in early-November for Huntington Beach (3-7), Marina (1-9) and Ocean View (5-5).
Fountain Valley finished in third place in the Sunset League and reached postseason play. The Barons dropped an opening-round CIF-SS Division 1 match to fifth-ranked and eventual playoff semifinalist Dana Hills.
Huntington Beach High won two matches in the final week of the Sunset League season to win a championship, the second-straight Sunset title for the Oilers and second in program history.
“I am so impressed with this team’s character and the enjoyment they have for being teammates,” Huntington Coach Doug Flint said. “They are a tight group that has continued to improve every match this year. The 2014 championship will not look so lonely on the banner now.”
At the Sunset League finals at Skylinks Golf Course (par 36) in Long Beach, local golfers captured five of the top seven spots. Huntington Beach Ella Poljak placed second, Huntington teammate Abby Cahill finished tied for fourth with Edison’s Mia Collins and Los Alamitos’ Grace Lu, Edison’s Pilar Hurtado took third, and Marina’s Brittany Do was seventh.
All five advanced to compete at the CIF-SS Individuals tournament, and Do advanced to both the CIF-SS Individual Championship and Women’s Southern California Golf Assn. Qualifying Tournament.
At the CIF-SS Southern Division Team Championships in November at Lakewood Country Club, Marina took seventh, Huntington was 15th, and Edison finished in 17th.
Huntington Beach’s boys’ varsity team successfully defended its team title, Edison won the girls’ varsity crown, and Cassie Durgy of Huntington won the girls’ varsity individual title in November at the Sunset League Championships.
The Huntington boys’ program repeated as Sunset champion for the first time since the 1985-86 seasons.
In the boys’ varsity team standings, Edison was third, Fountain Valley fourth and Marina fifth. In the girls’ varsity team standings at league finals, Fountain Valley was fourth, Huntington fifth and Marina sixth.
The Ocean View boys’ team and individual athletes from Huntington Beach, Edison and Fountain Valley went on to compete at the CIF-SS Cross-Country Championships at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut. Ocean View placed 15th in the Boys’ Division 3 team standings. Individually, Durgy of Huntington finished in 34th place in the Girls’ Division 1 race, and Fountain Valley’s William Hua and Edison junior Gus Weiss placed 54th and 58th, respectively, in the Boys’ Division 1 race.
Huntington Beach High closed out a perfect run through Sunset League on Senior Night the first Tuesday of November by sweeping visiting Fountain Valley, giving the program its second consecutive league championship.
“It was a great celebration of our seniors tonight,” Huntington Coach Craig Pazanti said. “We had contributions from everyone and it was nice to finish the league undefeated. Any time you can win the Sunset League, you have accomplished something, and I look forward to continuing the way we have been playing as the [CIF] playoffs begin.”
The Oilers won their first three games in CIF-SS Division 1AA postseason play to set up a semifinal matchup at top-seed and eventual division runner-up Redondo Union. They fell behind, 0-2, rallied back only to fall, 3-1, and finished with a 30-win season.
“Although we did not achieve our ultimate goal of a CIF championship, we had several great moments throughout the season,” Pazanti said. “We went undefeated (10-0) in a tough Sunset league and gave ourselves a chance to win CIF. I am super proud of this group and the strides they have made over the past two seasons.”
Two other local teams, Edison and Ocean View, both won first-round matches but were eliminated in second-round play. The Chargers (Sunset League No. 2) dropped a thrilling, 3-2 Division 1AA match to Pacific Coast League champion Corona del Mar. The Seahawks (Golden West League No. 2) took on top-ranked Thousand Oaks La Reina in a Division 4AA second-round match and fell to the host Regents, 3-0.
“I’m proud of my girls this season,” Ocean View Coach Seth Cutrell said. “We played well and improved throughout the season.”
Boys’ Water Polo
One year after reaching the CIF-SS semifinals for the first time in 56 years, Huntington Beach went out and repeated the feat this fall.
First, though, the fourth-ranked Oilers won the Sunset League championship, going undefeated in the process and clinched the title in late-October. They then got past Long Beach Millikan and Orange Lutheran to get to the Final Four of the Division 1 field at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine. Their bid for a section title ended in a semifinal loss to defending division champion and eventual division runner-up, second-ranked Harvard-Westlake.
Huntington won 23 of 30 games.
“I thought we had a great season,” Coach Sasa Branisavljevic said.
Ocean View finished second in the Golden West League standings and took a No. 9 ranking into the CIF-SS Division 6 playoffs. The Seahawks defeated Cypress in a wild-card game but were eliminated in a first-round matchup after a loss to Beaumont.