Crespi’s ground forces overwhelm Santa Margarita in playoff opener

Running back T.J. Brumfield helped Crespi reach 385 yards on the ground in win over Santa Margarita, 45-13, in the first round of the Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoffs.
(Sean Ceglinsky / For The Times)

Pick your poison.

Attempt to stop Encino Crespi’s T.J. Brumfield from gaining yards on the ground and his teammate Jalen Starks typically makes you pay when given the chance.

The same problem arises when opponents focus too much attention on Marvell Tell. They quickly learn D.J. Beavers is a more-than-capable ballcarrier.

Running the ball certainly was not a problem for the Celts on Friday night. Try as it might, Santa Margarita could never figure out a way to prevent the Celts’ potent ground attack from gobbling up yardage.


Crespi finished with 385 yards rushing, 252 in the first half, and the end result was an impressive 45-13 victory over the visiting Eagles in a first-round Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoff game.

“We know what our strength is, every team does; still, opponents can’t do anything about it,” said Tell, also a defensive back and one of the nation’s more high-profile unsigned prospects.

Also worth mentioning: Weston Massett orchestrated things for Crespi (9-1) from the quarterback position. He attempted only six passes while doing his best to keep everyone around him happy.

Any hopes the Eagles (6-5) might have had of coming back from a 31-13 halftime deficit were squelched by Brumfield, who finished with 186 yards and four touchdowns in 21 carries.

He scored on a 24-yard run with 2 minutes 6 seconds remaining in the third quarter and found the end zone again on a three-yard run to extend the lead to 45-13 with 10:15 left in the fourth quarter.

“We owe a lot to our offensive line, they did a great job,” Brumfield said. “Santa Margarita was talking a lot in the first half, but not after that. Things were quiet. We wore them down.”

Earlier, Brumfield put Crespi in command in the first half, scoring on 35- and 19-yard runs, the second one giving the Celts a 28-7 lead 11:28 before halftime.

“Our mentality is to run downhill, hit them before they can hit us, punch people in the mouth on the ground,” Beavers said. “Our plan never changes. It’s a recipe for success.”

Santa Margarita actually took a 7-0 lead on K.J. Costello’s 80-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Sweet, but after that it was pretty much all Crespi. Massett scored on a 25-yard keeper to tie the score. Later in the first quarter, Starks’ 35-yard touchdown run made it 21-7.

Costello also threw had a four-yard scoring pass to Sweet later in the first half.