CIF STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME at StubHub Center, Carson
- CAMPOLINDO 35, EL CAPITAN 28
Vaqueros in scoring range in last minute, but Campolindo gets 90-yard scoop 'n score for State championship
By Jim Lindgren
CARSON (12-21-14) — Twelve yards from paydirt. Twelve stinking yards from history!
With one minute to play in the state championship game, SAM MELERO took a reverse handoff and raced around left end for a 22-yard pickup and a first down at the 12-yard line.
A touchdown would likely have given El Capitan its first state championship. A field goal would probably have done it as well.
Instead, the unthinkable happened.
Oh, brother, did it ever.
ISAIAH CAPOOCIA, one of the best all-around players in San Diego County, lined up at tailback, took a handoff from BRAD CAGLE, was hit hard in the thighs at the 10-yard line and … agonizingly … coughed up the ball.
Campolindo’s Adam Remotto, already a thorn in the Vaqueros’ side with two touchdown receptions in the second-half comeback, scooped up the ball and thundered untouched 90 yards for the game-winning score with 0:52 left.
Instead of a magical end to a wonderful season, El Capitan had to swallow a 35-28 defeat against Campolindo in the State Bowl Championship Division III title game Saturday afternoon (Dec. 20) at the StubHubCenter.
Instead of El Cap rocking and rolling back to Lakeside, Campolindo got the storybook ending it was wishing to tell all the folks back in Moraga about.
“They made a helluva play,” said El Capitan head coach RON BURNER, who obviously was hoping for a different result to help celebrate his 57th birthday. “It’s a great win for them.
“But it doesn’t dampen our season. It’s by far the best team ever at El Cap. By far the best.”
Indeed. El Capitan (14-1) already had won the first San Diego Section title in school history, and the Vaqueros punched their ticket to this game with a 41-0 shutout of Paso Robles in the Southern California Regional championship last week before the biggest crowd ever at El Capitan.
Campolindo (15-0) won its first state title, having lost its first shot in 2011.
“They made more plays,” El Capitan two-way star D.J. SMITH said. “That’s what it comes down to. They made more plays.”
Tied 7-7 at halftime, El Capitan scored three touchdowns over a 4:00 span in the third quarter to take what appeared to be a commanding 28-7 lead with 2:32 left in the quarter.
Campolindo scored the final four touchdowns to stun the thousands of El Capitan faithful who made the 120-mile trip from Lakeside.
Remotto had three of those scores, and he obviously enjoyed the last one best.
“The scoop and score,” he said. “That sealed the deal. It felt like I was on a spaceship. Out of this world.”
The only guy with any hope of catching Remotto also played the entire second half with a possible broken foot or ankle or both.
BRAD CAGLE, among the all-time passing leaders in San Diego Section history, suffered the injury near the end of the first half, one play before tossing a 3-yard touchdown pass to JOEY LaCHAPPA to tie the game with 4:32 before intermission.
Immediately afterward, Cagle was administered to on the sideline and had to be carried off the field and into the locker room. RYAN SMITH took over at quarterback and completed 3-of-4 passes for 12 yards.
Moments into the second half, Cagle came running onto the field. He was limited in mobility but not in sheer guts.
“I wasn’t going to let myself sit out” he said. “They said it might be a small bone chip. They wrapped it up a lot at halftime. I wasn’t about to not play the second half.”
Cagle’s first pass of the second half was a perfectly placed 24-yard touchdown toss to FRANKIE LIMA as the Vaqueros began their third-quarter charge. Lima, blanketed by a Cougar cornerback along the left sideline, juggled the ball a bit before snaring it and falling into the end zone.
Minutes later, Campolindo was lined up for a 36-yard field-goal attempt, but the kick was blocked by Capoocia, and the ball bounded out to the 20-yard line where Melero scooped it up and raced 80 yards for the score and a 21-7 lead.
One minute later, Campolindo had a bad snap on a punt attempt, and Melero tackled the punter at the 13-yard line. One play later, Capoocia scored on a sweep to the right to make it 28-7 with 2:32 to play in the third quarter.
Late in the third, Campolindo started its comeback as Remotto caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Jack Stephens.
Those two connected again three minutes into the fourth quarter, this one a 13-yarder that capped a 7-play, 79-yard drive to make it 28-21.
After a three-and-out El Cap possession, Campolindo tied it up, 28-28, with 4:30 left as Stephens connected with Max Flower on a 14-yard touchdown pass that capped a 6-play, 69-yard drive.
After Remotto’s stunning fumble return, El Capitan had 0:52 left but fumbled on the kick return, and all Campolindo had to do was watch Stephens take a knee for the final two plays.
Stephens finished with 291 passing yards and four touchdowns on 19-of-32 passing attempts that included an interception by Melero. Stephens also broke the state championship Division III game record of 264 passing yards set by his brother Brett in 2011.
El Capitan started its final drive on its own 45-yard line after a 20-yard kick return by Melero.
Capoocia ran twice for 4 yards each, and D.J. Smith rushed for 4 yards and a first down. Capoocia then had consecutive runs of 6, 3 and 1 yards for another first down before Melero’s 22-yarder put the ball on the 12-yard line.
Capoocia’s fumble was so uncharacteristic for the all-section performer.
“There’s no one to blame in this game,” Cagle said. “It’s a total team effort. We’ve been like a family all season. We all love each other.
“Everyone’s worked so hard to get here. Things happen, and life goes on.”
Of the fumble, Cagle said, “It happens. You never know which way the ball’s going to bounce. That’s why they shape the ball the way it is.”
Cagle finished with 89 yards and two touchdowns on 7-of-13 passing without an interception. D.J. Smith had 81 yards on 17 carries, and Capoocia added 46 on 10 touches as the Vaqueros posted 259 total yards.
Capoocia also led the Vaqueros with 37 receiving yards on two catches, plus the blocked punt and a fumble recovery. Lima caught three balls for 31 yards and Joey LaChappa three for 19. LaChappa also teamed on a sack with ROBBY CALLAWAY.
Despite the disappointing loss, Burner and his staff took the high road in defeat.
“Keep your heads up,” they kept telling the players as they walked off the field, defeated for the first time in over a year.
“You guys are my heroes,” Burner told his troops after the game. “You’re the best. You know what you did this season, and no one can take that away from you.”
El Capitan, Campolindo to square off in Carson for the California State title
By Jim Lindgren
© East County Sports.com
CARSON (12-19-14) — Having won its first San Diego Section title and now playing in its first state championship game, El Capitan (14-0) faces a stern test against Campolindo (15-0) when these two gunslingers meet at high noon Saturday in the Division III State Bowl Championship game at the StubHub Center in Carson.
Campolindo is the North Coast Section Division III title winner from Moraga in San Francisco’s East Bay area and is playing for a state title for the second time in four season, having lost to Washington Union, 21-16, in 2011.
Enjoying their finest season in school history this fall under coach Kevin Macy, the Cougars rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat undefeated Sutter, 35-14, in the Northern California Regionals Division III final last Saturday.
Campolindo averages 46.7 points per game while yielding 19.4. The Cougars’ closest game was a 27-21 win over Marin Catholic in the section championship. In three previous playoff games, the Cougars won 62-46, 56-14, and 52-14. They have scored more than 50 points six times this season and 40 or more points 11 times. They have a 15-game winning streak.
Quarterback Jack Stephens threw for 302 yards and three touchdowns last week. He has 3,273 passing yards with 33 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 15 games. His favorite targets are good ones. Max Flowers has 51 receptions for 1,000 yards and 11 TDs, though he is nursing a sore shoulder. Conner McNally has 75 catches for 550 yards and seven TDs, though he is nursing a pulled groin. Running back Nick Fadelli has rushed for 1,814 yards and 32 touchdowns.
Also enjoying its finest season, El Capitan will counter with quarterback BRAD CAGLE (2,769 yards, 30 touchdowns) leading an offense averaging 38.0 points per game. D.J. SMITH has rushed for 1,280 yards and 19 touchdowns. Receivers ISAIAH CAPOOCIA (59 catches, 941 yards, 15 TDs) and ZACH CAGLE (27-455-4) are also dangerous runners on slot sweeps.
The Vaqueros defense got its third shutout against Paso Robles and is allowing only 10.4 points per game. The unit is led by Smith (124 tackles), JAMES OWENS (12 sacks), JARRED TURNER (8 interceptions) and a host of others who have contributed mightily.
Arguably the best defense in San Diego County, El Capitan has posted 55 sacks and 25 interceptions.
CIF State Playoffs - First Round
Vaqueros shutout Paso Robles, next stop CIF State championship
By Jim Lindgren
LAKESIDE (12-14-14) — Amongst the thousands of fans packed into El Capitan Stadium, a solo voice was heard in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s (Dec. 13) Southern California Regional Division III final.
“Hey, shouldn’t there be a running clock? Why is the clock stopping?”
The voice would have been correct if this was strictly a San Diego Section game in which a 35-point lead in the second half automatically triggers a running clock. It’s called the “mercy rule” down in these parts, but it doesn’t exist in the state playoffs.
There would be no mercy in El Capitan’s complete dismantling of a Paso Robles team from San Luis Obispo County.
The top-seeded Vaqueros (14-0) ignited a dynamite-like 28-point second quarter to rout Paso Robles (13-2) by a 41-0 margin in front of perhaps the largest crowd in El Cap history.
“You know what?” El Capitan coach RON BURNER told his charges. “We’re going to Carson!”
|For photos of El Capitan's CIF Division III regional playoff game victory over Paso Robles Saturday night at Cutting Field. (please visit dondemarsphotography.com)
That would be the site of the Division III State Bowl Championship game pitting the Vaqueros against Moraga Campolindo (15-0) at noon Saturday at the StubHubCenter in Carson.
“The feeling is unbelievable,” El Cap senior star D.J. SMITH said. “This is our ultimate goal. We want to win a state championship. It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
The first Vaqueros team to win a San Diego Section football title will now play for a state title after shutting out a team that was averaging 39.7 points per game, while limiting opponents to 16.7.
“It’s an unreal feeling,” quarterback BRAD CAGLE said. “Like I’ve said before, we’ve worked so very hard for so long to get to this moment.”
That moment Saturday was shared by a huge crowd that arrived early and cheered wildly as the Vaqueros unleashed a major whooping. “It definitely helped that this was our home turf,” Cagle said. “Having so many people here created such an awesome atmosphere. “They were energetic. We were energetic. We weren’t about to lose this one.”
The Vaqueros scored 28 rapid-fire points in a 5:06 span of the second quarter to punctuate the historic moment, scoring four different ways against the stunned Bearcats.
ISAIAH CAPOOCIA scored on a 1-yard sweep.
Capoocia scored again on a 62-yard punt return.
Smith returned an interception 77 yards for a touchdown.
And FRANKIE LIMA snared a 15-yard scoring pass from Cagle. That made it 31-0 with 4:48 to play before halftime.
“We played as a team,” Burner said. “Offense had their moments. Defense had their moments. Special teams had their moments. “I think we showed them we’re the No. 1 seed for a reason. We showed them how good El Cap football really is.”
El Capitan’s superb defense did the rest, stuffing the run, breaking up the pass, sacking the quarterback, and basically frustrating the bejeebers out of the first Central Coast team to make the state playoffs.
Paso Robles got only 175 total yards and really never got close to scoring.
“Our defense did what our defense always does,” Smith said. “Shut them down.”
This could have been even more lopsided.
El Capitan got in the red zone on each of its first three possessions but came away with only a 3-0 lead.
Capoocia returned the opening kickoff 48 yards, and the Vaqueros advanced to the 3-yard line before being stopped on a fourth-and-1 quarterback sneak.
After a three-and-out and a 16-yard punt, they started the next possession at the 19-yard line but could only produce a 28-yard field goal by TAKOTA CURO, his fifth of the year.
Their third possession started at the Bearcats’ 44-yard line but finished on downs at the 23.
Finally, early in the second quarter, El Cap drove 54 yards in six plays and scored on a 1-yard run by Capoocia to make it 10-0 with 9:54 on the clock.
Paso Robles then rushed three times for 0, 0 and again 0 yards and was forced to punt.
Capoocia grabbed the ball on a bounce at the 38-yard line, raced right, slid left, broke a couple tackles, sprinted up the right sideline, broke a couple more tackles, tip-toed along the sideline, regained his balance and darted into the end zone for a 62-yard score and a 17-0 at 7:12.
Four plays later it was 24-0 when Smith picked off a pass at the 23 and raced virtually untouched for a 77-yard pick-six, the first of his career.
JOHN LaCHAPPA recovered a fumble two plays later, and Cagle then tossed a perfect lob to Lima for a 15-yard TD and a 31-0 lead at 4:48.
“We knew we weren’t going to settle for three points,” Cagle said. “We knew the defense was going to hold them. And then we started clicking on offense and got us some points.”
Among the all-time passing leaders in section history, Cagle finished 9-of-15 passing for 119 yards and his 77th touchdown pass in a three-year career. He also posted his ninth rushing touchdown this season on a 1-yard keeper in the fourth quarter. He now has 2,769 passing yards this season, topping his 2,738 yards last season.
“Our defense puts up points,” Cagle noted. “Our special teams puts up points. Our offense puts up points. It’s not just one guy or one unit. Everybody contributes.”
Smith had 85 rushing yards on 12 carries to give him 1,280 yards on the season.
Lima had three catches for 47 yards, SAM MELERO two for 23 and JOEY LaCHAPPA two for 27.
Capoocia, El Cap’s leading receiver, did not have a reception on offense. He had an interception on defense near the goal line at the end of the first half.
Joey LaChappa, the identical twin of John who are sons of Vaqueros assistant coach EAGLE LaCHAPPA, notched three sacks to give him 9½ for the season.
JARRED TURNER collected his team-leading eighth interception, and TREVOR ZAMORA had a fumble recovery and a key tackle for loss.
Like El Capitan, Paso Robles had the finest season in school history. The Bearcats had lost 15 games in the previous three seasons before this year’s breakout.
They came in wounded, however, down to their No. 4 running back. Their No. 1 receiver, Bailey Gaither (1,453 receiving yards and 20 TDs) was also injured. No. 2 receiver Ty Jones sustained a neck injury on a kickoff return in the first quarter.
They boarded a bus for a 7-hour return trip home licking more than physical wounds.
Quarterback Justin Davis had 2,502 yards and 31 touchdowns coming in. He was 8-of-19 for 55 yards and two interceptions against El Cap.
“After the first couple series,” Burner said, “with our defense, we knew we were going to dominate.” That they did. “They played inspired football,” Paso Robles coach Rich Schimke said. “No excuses. They played lights out all night long. “Forty-one to nothing – that pretty much says it all.”