The first night of CIF-SS Finals action was one that won’t soon be forgotten. A tiny prep school continued its reign of the Northeast Division, a remarkable record was broken by a Rim of the World running back and a shocking upset in the Inland Empire came down to just a two-point conversion.
Inland Division: Corona Centennial 30, Vista Murrieta It was only fitting that the biggest game of the night saw the most action of the night. It came down to just a two-point conversion for Vista Murrieta, the top-ranked team in the Southern Section and the third-ranked team in the country.
The Broncos trailed No. 2 Corona Centennial by just two with a minute left to play. Su’a Cravens, a standout two-way player who was recently named the California Gatorade Player of the Year and is committed to play for USC next season, had led his team down the field on the Broncs’ final touchdown drive of the game. Needing just two points to tie the game and put it into overtime, Cravens saw the ball come his direction. But just before he could get his hands on it, Centennial cornerback Gavin Andrews batted it down to seal a 30-28 victory for the Huskies.
The Huskies defense got better as the game went along, forcing four clutch turnovers when the Broncs were inside the 15. The defense has come through in all but one game this season, as the Huskies have not lost a game since its season-opener.
Centennial quarterback Robert Webber played his reads perfectly, completing 16-of-23 passes for 259 yards and one big 60-yard touchdown bomb.
The win gave Centennial its seventh CIF title in 12 years and secures them a spot in one of the state bowl games. East Valley Division: Rim of the World 34, Ontario Christian 31 Rim of the World’s Jacob Taylor was the story of the night when his 250 rushing yards helped him accomplish an astonishing feat: Taylor became just the fifth player in American high school football history to rush for more than 4,000 yards in a season.
Along with those 250 yards, Taylor also contributed three touchdowns, helping his Scots end Ontario Christian’s undefeated CIF championship hopes with a 34-31 win.
“Our offensive line is amazing,” Taylor said. “The best in the division, the best around.”
Rim of the World (12-2) was down most of the game until a key play in the fourth quarter sparked a turnaround. Down 24-20, the Knights (13-1) fumbled the ball on a bad snap into the Rim of the World end zone. The ball was covered up for a touchdown, giving the Scots a 27-24 lead.
Later in the fourth, Taylor was able to get into the end zone on a short rush up the middle to build that lead to 10 points. The Knights rallied late, scoring a touchdown of their own with four minutes left. But the Scots’ defense would let them get no further and Rim of the World brought the East Valley Division title back home to Lake Arrowhead.
Mid-Valley Division: Monrovia 23, Paraclete 7 Monrovia played this game the way a team in the finals should play: They played hard and played gutsy. And it paid off, as the Wildcats captured their third-straight CIF title with a 23-7 victory over Paraclete.
In front of an overflow crowd at the Wildcats’ home stadium, the Monrovia defense – its calling card all season – got big stops when the Wildcats needed it the most. After allowing an early touchdown to the Spirits, the defense clamped down, pushing the Spirits back with a big sack to start the next drive.
But the offense was absent until the second half. Three straight drives that started with good field position were wasted, with the third ending with a missed field goal with just 19 seconds left in the first half.
The Wildcats went into the locker room down 7-0 at the half but came back with a renewed intensity. It took Monrovia just 20 seconds to tie the game when Anthony Craft caught a deep pass just inches from his defender and ran untouched into the end zone for an 85-yard touchdown. Mason Bryant hit a 32-yard field goal later in the third to put the Wildcats up 10-7.
Meanwhile, the defense continued to play solid, forcing the Spirits to go three-and-out after the field goal. The Wildcats dominated the time of possession, allowing them to find the end zone twice more in what turned out to be a route.
With Paraclete and Sierra Canyon moving to the Mid-Valley Division this season, Monrovia’s chance at a three-peat was seen as significantly diminished. The reigning state champions in Sierra Canyon and their archrival Paraclete turned the attention away from the team who has controlled the Division in recent years.
But head coach Ryan Maddox and his Wildcats made it known that the Mid-Valley Division still belongs to them.
“It feels incredible, but I’ll be honest, this was the best one yet because of the team we played,” Maddox said. “Our kids fought hard and we dominated them in the second half and that feels good.”
Northeast: Rio Hondo Prep 28, Mission Prep 21 It seems improbable for a school of just 106 people to have 14 CIF Southern Section titles. But Rio Hondo Prep continued to defy the odds Friday night winning their 14th with a 28-21 win over Mission Prep in the Northeast Division championship game.
Mission Prep (11-2) got off to a strong start, scoring quickly in the first. But the lead would not hold, as running back Nate Tayco scored two quick touchdowns for the Kares to put them up 14-0.
“I thought that we were in trouble in the beginning,” Drain said. “They did exactly what we told them not to do and let them get behind us. But after that they settled down nice.”
Mission Prep would come back to tie and then take the lead again. Tayco, who came out briefly with an injury, returned to the game to score again for the Kares (12-1). But the extra point was missed and Rio Hondo Prep remained down 21-20.
Finally, Tayco came through for the Kares in the third with what would prove to be the game-winning touchdown. Ryan Wiley successfully caught the two-point conversion to give the Kares a decisive 28-21 lead and their second-straight CIF Southern Section Championship. Southwest: No. 9 Edison 28, Villa Park 10 Under the bright lights of Anaheim Stadium, Edison showcased a defense that is arguably the stiffest in the Southern Section in a 28-10 win over Villa Park that gave the Chargers their first CIF Southern Section title since 1985.
The teams started off battling the elements when a rainstorm hit the stadium. Both teams fell victim to the slick turf and suffered from dropped passes and shortened runs. Villa Park (12-1) struck first with a Meki Tefuna seven-yard touchdown run. The Chargers couldn’t quite find their footing until the defense gave them the boost they needed.
With time expiring in the first quarter, a bad snap was recovered by Edison for a safety, giving the Chargers their first points. In the second, Hunter Kelley blasted a 22-yard field goal to close the gap to 7-5.
The Spartans best chance for another first-half touchdown came on the next play when Dustin Harrison recovered a pooch-kick, slipped his defender and scampered across the Edison 30-yard-line. But the Charger defense executed well and the effort went for naught. Shortly thereafter, Donald Rice gave Edison (13-1) a lead it would never relinquish with a fourth-down touchdown off the pitch-back.
Eastern Division: Citrus Hill 38, Serrano 24 For two straight seasons, Phelan Serrano had been foiled by Fontana Summit. This season, with Summit in a different division, the 2012 season was shaping up to be the Diamondbacks’ season. Serrano was riding high and riding a 13-game undefeated winning streak into the CIF Eastern Division Championship against Perris Citrus Hill. But the Diamondbacks would end their journey in Perris, as Serrano lost its bid for its first-ever undefeated season with a 38-24 loss.
Citrus Hill, however, would finish 14-0 and receiver K.J. Young would also finish with one of the top plays of the night. With the Hawks up 17-3 in the second quarter, Young stretched for a ball in double coverage making a great catch and turning over a third defender before making a break for the end zone for a 57-yard touchdown.
It was the top play in a game of many, as Citrus Hill dominated from the first snap. The Hawks led wire-to-wire, leading by as much as 29 points before the Diamondbacks finally started to really chip away at the lead. Serrano managed to close the gap with a touchdown in the final minute but it was too late.