Monday, December 7, 2015

Six 2015 CIF Section Champions Crowned

For the second straight season, the CIF San Diego Section Championship games took place at DeVore Stadium on the campus of Southwestern College in Chula Vista, and once again it was a huge success.

Highlighted by a much anticipated showdown between the No. 1 and 2 ranked teams in the county, spectators showed up in full force to help pack the house and support their respective schools.

Here's a recap of all the action as we congratulate the six newly crowned champions and wish them the best of luck as they represent the San Diego Section in the Regional Football Championship Bowl Games.

2015 CIF San Diego Open Division Champions
Helix Highlanders (11-1)
Defeated St. Augustine 44-30

In Saturday night's main event, the top two teams in the county faced off for the San Diego Section's top prize. Both teams made it interesting in the first half by putting up three touchdown runs apiece to tie the game 21-21 at halftime, but the second half was all Highlanders as they exploded in the third quarter with 16 unanswered points.

Elijah Preston's 9-yard touchdown run followed by a 27-yard field goal cut the Helix lead to 37-30, but Nathan Stinson broke away for a 52-yard score that proved to be the dagger. Stinson rushed for 243 yards on 19 carries and found the end zone five times (4 rush, 1 reception).

2015 CIF San Diego Division I Champions
Oceanside Pirates (9-4)
Defeated El Camino 23-14

After Oceanside got off to a 4-4 start that included their first three-game losing streak in 10 seasons, there were some concerns about life after longtime head coach John Carroll. Five straight wins later, things appear to be back to normal for the perennial powerhouse as they earn their San Diego Section record 16th championship.

“I think it's a great statement for our program that we're still here, and we're still Oceanside,” declared quarterback Robby Beardsley, who contributed to the scoreboard with a pass and run.

After the Pirates drew first blood with a 29-yard field goal from Jake Gerardi, the Wildcats answered back with a 23-yard touchdown strike from Beau Gallegos to Chris Brown, giving them a 7-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Oceanside answered back with two straight touchdowns, including a controversial 8-yard grab by Isaia Paopao that gave the Pirates a 17-7 halftime lead.

A goal line dive by Jaden Casey cut Oceanside's lead to 17-14, but with 1:49 left to play, Niko Mageo powered his way to the end zone for the game-clinching score.

“Huge win for our first-year head coach Dave Rodriguez,” Beardsley added.

2015 CIF San Diego Division II Champions
Rancho Bernardo Broncos (11-2)
Defeated Mt. Carmel 41-23

After coming up short in last season's Division II title game, Rancho Bernardo made sure not to have that same experience this time around. Milan Grice rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns to spark the Broncos to its first section title since 1995 and third all-time.

Mt. Carmel showed tremendous heart by rallying from a 21-0 first quarter deficit to lead 23-21 at halftime. Unfortunately for the Sundevils, it was Rancho Bernardo's run in the second half that sealed the contest as they pulled away with 20 unanswered points.

2015 CIF San Diego Division III Champions
Bonita Vista Barons (11-2)
Defeated Mission Bay 52-14

With a nice view of their campus in site as it sits across the street from the stadium, Bonita Vista rolled pass Mission Bay to earn its first section title in the program's 49-year history.

San Diego State commit Greg Bell rushed for 202 yards and five touchdowns to help lead the Barons to victory on the field where they've played their home games since the renovated venue opened last season.

A 2-yard touchdown run by Derrick Clark gave the Buccaneers a 14-12 lead in the second quarter, but a run of six unanswered touchdowns by Bonita Vista was too much to overcome.

Barons receiver Quentin Harrison put up 136 yards and two scores off just three catches, while the defense came up with three interceptions.

“We have a plan,” Bonita Vista head coach Chris Thompson answered when asked about his program's turnaround after five consecutive losing seasons.

“It just came together. It's a special group of kids, and I'm happy for them and happy for the school.”

2015 CIF San Diego Division IV Champions
Mater Dei Catholic Crusaders (12-1)
Defeated Bishop's 49-14

Eli Shelton returned the game's opening kickoff for an 88-yard score, setting the tone for Mater Dei's first section title game victory since 2003, when they were known as Marian Catholic.

This was a rematch from last year's Division IV title game, where Bishop's escaped with 19-16 win in overtime. The tides have definitely turned since then. The Crusaders rolled to a 35-0 lead before Mozes Mooney got the Knights on the board with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Jackson.

Shelton also had a monster receiving day with 250 yards and three touchdowns off just four catches. Crusaders signal caller Chris Jones completed 7 of 8 passes for 336 yards and found the end zone five times (4 pass, 1 rush). Standout running back C.J. Verdell chipped in with two of the most explosive touchdown plays of the game, a 30-yard run and 54-yard reception.

2015 CIF San Diego Division V Champions
Coronado Islanders (9-4)
Defeated Crawford 21-7

Christopher Haas scored all three touchdowns for top-seeded Coronado as they overcame a tough effort from the Crawford Colts in the opening match-up. For the Islanders, this marks their first section title since winning back-to-back crowns in 1985 and 86.

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