Before Chatsworth Sierra Canyon trekked south to face La Mesa Helix in the Division 1-AA Southern California Regional playoff game, Trailblazers coach Jon Ellinghouse shared a couple of thoughts about his quarterback, Chayden Peery.
“He’s a smart kid,” Ellinghouse said. “He just leads our team, doesn’t take unnecessary risks.”
Ellinghouse could have added a few more superlatives about the junior. That Peery is cool in the pocket and deadly accurate. Both were on display Friday night as Sierra Canyon played a dominant second half to defeat Helix 38-20.
The Trailblazers advance to the state championship final next Friday night at Cerritos College against Fresno Central, which beat El Dorado Hills Oak Ridge 38-32.
Peery completed 16 of 18 passes for 215 yards and one touchdown.
“What Chayden does is manage the game,” Ellinghouse said. “He puts us in the right situations. He takes risks when they’re there and avoids them when they’re not. He has an incredibly bright future.”
The Trailblazers lost last year’s 1-A state championship game 19-17 to Brentwood Liberty.
“I was just motivated to get back [to the state championship game],” Peery said. “Get redemption and right that wrong.”
Here’s how efficiently Sierra Canyon’s offense operated. Take away a first-half possession that started with 10.9 seconds left and the Trailblazers scored on their first six possessions, five of them touchdowns.
The Trailblazers demonstrated balance as well, rushing for 177 yards. The score was tied at halftime 14-14, before Sierra Canyon dominated the final 24 minutes. Jason Jones’ 19-yard run gave Sierra Canyon a 20-14 lead.
A 39-yard Peery-to-Donovan Williams completion set up Brendon Gamble’s one-yard scoring run. JD Sumlin capped Sierra Canyon’s scoring with a four-yard touchdown run.
The defense held Helix without a first down in the second half. The Highlanders’ only second-half touchdown came on an 84-yard kickoff return. Levi Dayne’s interception set up Sumlin’s touchdown.
Sierra Canyon’s line, all underclassmen, gave Peery time to survey Helix’s secondary almost all night.
“They gave me time, ... they took over the game,” he said. “Now we’ve just got to get one more.”