The 2019 CIF San Diego Section high school football playoffs wrap up this weekend with championship matchups across Divisions 1 through 5.
Here’s a preview of all five championship games
Two of San Diego’s most historic programs will be facing off for only the third time ever. Each of the previous matchups were blowouts with each side winning one. This year’s battle figures to be an excellent game. The argument could be made that both teams underachieved in the early part of the regular season but figured things out around league play and have been steamrolling their opponents on the way to this game. Oceanside comes in looking for 17th CIF Championship, which would extend the record they already hold. The Pirates have had a very balanced offense this season with Jakob Harris leading things through the air and Kavika Tua surpassing 2,000 yards on the ground. Jalen Ramsey leads a very talented secondary and Christopher Laie Jr. has been big in the pass rush with 70 tackles and 10.5 sacks. After shocking Cathedral Catholic to end the regular season, Lincoln has taken down Avocado League teams Torrey Pines and Mission Hills on their way to Southwestern College. The Hornets have shifted to a run-heavy approach utilizing several different players that has made it very difficult for opponents to contain. Seniors Keyshawn Smith and Benjo O’Brien have shown their versatility in the passing game and on the ground.
The most dominant offense in the section this season belongs to Bishop’s. Quarterback Tyler Buchner has put up video game numbers while setting records along the way. When Buchner hasn’t been throwing or running, senior running back Armaan Banks has averaged seven yards per carry and has sixteen total touchdowns. The Knights defense was able to cruise against most of their regular season opponents but were tested in their first playoff game against Poway. The Knights will need to be ready for more of the same against El Camino with the competition changing drastically against a big public-school team. The Wildcats had an up and down regular season but appear to have found a long-term solution in sophomore quarterback Kiah Reid. His dual-threat ability has been huge for El Camino and is just another thing that Bishop’s will have to focus on come Friday.
Another matchup that features an earlier season matchup. Scripps Ranch has remained undefeated to this point thanks to the statistically most dominant defense in the section. They’re allowing 7.3 points per game and have recorded three shutouts. Junior quarterback Luke Durkin has improved as the season has gone on thanks to a balanced receiving corps led by Rashad Griffin Jr. Six Falcons have brought in double digit receptions this season. Junior running back Nicholas Gardinera has gotten better each game and has been held under 100 yards rushing only once. The Scripps Ranch defense has been dominant with fourteen players having recorded double digit tackles. The Falcons kicking game has been reliable with Matthew Killam going 47 for 47 on extra points and 8 of 10 on field goals. La Jolla has been led by their defense for much of the season but has seen their offense pick up slightly during their recent four-game winning streak. Junior Max Smith is one of San Diego’s top two-way players. Davidson-commit Jack Wiese has 103 tackles on the season to go along with three sacks and two forced fumbles.
Through the first eight weeks of the regular season there was no team in San Diego more dominant than the Sultans. A surprising 27-point loss to Monte Vista ended their undefeated season but didn’t derail the goal of a section championship. Senior quarterback Nathan Temple has been one of the breakout candidates in San Diego this season. Temple and senior receiver Randall Smith formed a great pair this season connecting for seventeen touchdowns. Junior defensive lineman Michael Richter has been a beast with 82 tackles and 17.5 sacks so far and will certainly be Serra’s scouting report. Of the six section football championships in San Diego, Serra and Santana is surprisingly the only matchup that features the top two seeds in their bracket. The Conquistadors started their season with consecutive losses to Scripps Ranch and Santana but quickly turned things around and have won ten straight games since then. Junior running backs Dustan Ellison and Brevin Lingao has formed an excellent duo in the backfield for Serra with both players closing in on 1,000 rushing yards. During their current winning streak, the Conquistadors have held their opponents to seven points or less in eight of those games. Juniors Keoni Lamoreaux and Nathan Meyes have combined for 22 sacks with season. Senior Broock Desta has been a lockdown defender in the secondary with eight interceptions.
The Lancers and Trojans have been playing football since the 60’s but hadn’t faced off until week three of this season. Castle Park was victorious in that game, 33-28, but things have changed since then. After losing to Bishop’s in week six, the Lancers used their bye week to turn things around and have since won six straight heading into this week’s final. The Lancers lost several key players from last year’s division five finalist team but have been able to rebuild quickly thanks to contributors from every grade. Freshman Chris Williams and Chris White have been key for Parker. Despite their lack of experience, the duo has combined for twenty touchdowns and nine interceptions so far. The Trojans game plan is clear. With only 71 pass attempts on the season, they intend to run the ball and do it often. Junior Erik Hernandez leads the rushing attack, averaging over eleven yards per carry. Chris Wright, Ramon Cabal, and Xavier Alvarado are also key to the run game. The trio has combined for over 1,200 rushing yards and eighteen touchdowns to compliment Hernandez. Alvarado has also been key for the Trojans on defense, racking up 45 tackles and five interceptions.