CARSON, Calif. --
Overwhelming, overwriting and overtaking.
That’s what the Central Catholic (Modesto)
football team was all about Friday during a record-setting 66-7 dismantling of Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach)
in the Division IV CIF State Championship Bowl Game. Don’t let the small school division fool you: This may have been one of the best teams to win a state title since the State Bowl Championships began.
It was all led by a legendary rushing attack for the Raiders (14-2), who set a litany of records in the contest at the Home Depot Center, most notably the most points scored in a game and the largest winning margin. It was such a demolition that the entire second half was played with a running clock.
“The offensive line, you can’t say enough. We’ve got some good backs but you see some of the holes and what happens. When you run the ball like that you take the will out of a team and you can see those short carries getting bigger and bigger,” said Central Catholic coach Roger Canepa. “It’s a power football game that they’ve embraced and we just let ‘em go.”
And go they did. The line that included starters Chandler Bengtson
, Matt Palazzo
, David Henriques
, Ivan Swalve
and Spencer Stark
helped Central Catholic rack up 521 rushing yards on 46 carries with nine touchdowns. The points scored eclipsed the 59 by St. Margaret’s in 2008, the rushing yards shattered the previous high of 475 set by De La Salle in 2010 and the touchdowns bested the previous standard (once shared by De La Salle and St. Margaret’s) by two.
The records didn’t all come on the offensive side of the ball, either. The Raiders defense set the record for fewest yards allowed with 174, besting the previous mark of 177 set by St. Margaret’s.View the Qwixcore game log
“We were zoned-in and we knew what we were doing,” said Raiders linebacker
, who also scored the game’s final touchdown on an 8-yard rush in the fourth quarter. “Our defense has been building up and getting better and better. So by this point we just peaked.”Rey Vega's
stat line was flat-out unreal for Central Catholic: six carries, 202 yards and four touchdowns. And not to be outdone, teammate Ray Lomas IV
toted 16 carries for 183 yards and three more touchdowns. That massive offensive line gave them huge holes to run through, then they worked their own magic to fend off the overmatched defensive backs.
“We studied their defense a lot and we knew we could make big plays,” said Vega, whose night included an 80-yard score that set the state record for longest run in a title game. “(The line) helped a lot. It’s a blessing to have those big linemen. They are very smart and they are very strong. I can depend on them to make their blocks and I just shoot off them and do what I do.”
Stark said the linemen also had faith in their running backs.
“Everyone on our team wanted to win. We knew if we made a hole, they would make a great play," he said. "And they did.”
They made a lot of them.
The Raiders scored on all nine of their first-half possessions to open up a 59-7 advantage. Lomas started things off with a 4-yard score off-left guard after a six-play, 80-yard drive. And after Santa Fe Christian (11-4) punted on its first possession, it gave the Raiders all the momentum they needed.See the CIF Live Stats
Vega took the first play of the drive 60 yards for a score, and then it was just a list of touchdowns: Blake Escobar
from 6 yards, Vega from 9 yards, Lomas from 2 yards, Vega from 6 yards, Lomas from 24 yards and Vega from 80 yards. The final Raiders possession of the half ended with a 27-yard field goal from Kenny Smart
“They were as good as they looked on film. We told (our players) this is house money. We won our league, we won (a section title) and we won Southern California,” said Santa Fe Christian coach Nick Ruscetta. “This team is all they are billed to be. I haven’t seen a team like that this season. We knew they were a force just from the teams I had seen they had beaten.
“Our motto was never back down and I thought we fought to the best our ability. When you’re giving up 50 pounds per guy and they are skilled, big, fast and quick, I don’t know if scheme is gonna win the game."
The Eagles got their only score of the game when Jerry Harper
emerged from the scrum and raced untouched for a 67-yard score with 5:45 left in the first half.
“This was the first time playing a defense like that. My first thoughts were ‘We are gonna get run over.’ They are a lot more physical than us and they were a lot bigger than us,” said Harper, who led his team with 91 rushing yards on 10 attempts. “Win or lose it was great experience.”Joey Abbate
had a great experience for the Raiders, tying the state record with two interceptions. Smart also set the record with nine extra points.
“I didn’t think it would be that easy. What our team does is it just wears on you. Those 3-yard gains go to 6 then they go to 60,” Canepa said. “This was the funnest season I’ve ever had. These were great kids, they didn’t care about stats, they just wanted to win.
“This was one of our first goals when we first met in our retreat, to win a state championship. And we did. This was my 29th year coaching and I never thought I’d get here. Now I know how it feels.”
Central Catholic only needed to complete two passes in the rout, and the Eagles only connected on four.