Salesian High School’s game plan was the same, only this time the Mustangs executed it to perfection as they overwhelmed Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo, 34-0 Saturday to capture the CIF Southern Section Northeast football championship.
On a chilly and crisp night before a standing-room-only crowd at Salesian’s Br. Tom Keegan Memorial Field, a 60-yard run by Felipe Meza provided a spark that ignited a 27-point Salesian scoring onslaught in the second quarter.
The Mustangs, who were making their first appearance in the finals, never looked back, leaving no doubts in rolling to their first CIF football title.
“We made history for our school and it’s great to be part of it,” Salesian quarterback Blaise Booth said.
Booth was a big part of it, as the senior quarterback threw four touchdown passes, including two to Chris Pryor. He also hooked up with Jeremy Kelly on a 53-yard scoring play and closed out the scoring with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Marquis Ware.
Making the victory even sweeter for Booth and his fellow Mustangs was that they avenged last year’s semifinal loss to Mission Prep.
“They embarrassed us last year,” Salesian Coach Angelo Jackson said in recalling last year’s 54-26 loss. “We came out here tonight and avoided making the mistakes that we made last year. The game plan was the same. We just fixed what we did wrong.”
The Mustangs wanted to play physical and they dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage.
Booth completed 9 of 11 passes for 179 yards and Meza rushed for 149 yards on 23 carries thanks to the play up front of tackles Adam Sanchez, Damyen Davis and Sergio Guevara, guards Eduardo Lopez, Enrique Chavez and Jonathan Carrillo and center Arnulfo Robles.
On the defensive side, Salesian’s Ryan Matthews, Keanu Garcia, Manuel Najera, Jesus Moreno and Joshua Costantino and linebackers Jamardre Cobb, Kyahva Tezino and Ware spent much of the night in the Mission Prep backfield keeping the run-oriented Royals from gaining any yardage.
“We played our hearts out and kept them down, and held them to zero,” Cobb said.
They shut down Mission Prep’s talented running back Patrick Laird, limiting the 3,000-yard back to a season-low 43 yards. Laird, one of the state’s rushing leaders, played despite twisting his ankle early in the game.
“He’s a good back, but we took him away and that’s their strength,” Jackson said. “Our strength is that we’re multiple and once we get ahead, it’s hard to play against us.”
Passing isn’t the Royals’ forte and sophomore quarterback Patrick Miller completed only 3 of 11 passes for 70 yards and had two passes intercepted. Salesian’s secondary was led by Rodney Carr, Marcus Crosby and Nicholas Perez.
Carr, Cobb and Ware are headed to the University of Arizona next season.
Attempting to avoid getting shut out, Mission Prep reached the Salesian 5-yard line late in the game only to lose the ball on downs which made the long bus ride back to San Luis Obispo even longer. The Royals lost in the finals for the second consecutive year and finished 11-3.
Salesian, winners of 11 straight, raised its record to 12-2.