Oceanside Pirates 27, La Costa Canyon Mavericks 26
By Keith Demolder
The La Costa Canyon Mavericks and Oceanside Pirates came into Friday night’s contest with identical 5-3 records. After a senior night battle for the ages, the Pirates landed themselves on the winning side of the scoreboard, defeating the Mavericks 27-26 at home.
With a potential Avocado League title in the future for both teams, Friday night’s game held extra importance.
The game started off in Oceanside’s favor as Jake Bernard rushed in a five-yard touchdown to put up the Pirates 7-0.
LCC would tie the game up at 7 when Tanner Clark, who was under center for a majority of LCC’s snaps, took a one-yard run in for a score.
Oceanside quarterback Max Shuffer would then complete a 67-yard touchdown pass to Julian Hicks, putting up OHS 14-7.
Although both teams would get adequate opportunities to convert possessions into points, LCC and Oceanside turned the ball over before heading into halftime with a 14-7 Pirate lead.
After halftime, however, the two North County teams would square off in an exciting 24 minutes of action.
Although Shuffer made plays all night for Oceanside, his accuracy waned throughout. In particular, a third quarter pass attempt from Shuffer was intercepted and returned 15 yards by La Costa Canyon’s Alec Varteressian for a touchdown. And while LCC’s PAT would fail to clear the uprights, they kept themselves in the ballgame at 14-13.
In typical heavyweight fashion, though, Oceanside responded.
With a beautiful six-yard touchdown pass to Puka Kaleopa-Tuisee in the back left corner of the end zone, Shuffer redeemed his early mistake and would give O-Side a 21-13 lead.
After Oceanside’s touchdown completion, LCC crafted a response of its own by scoring an 80-yard touchdown thanks to a double reverse option pass from Tanner Clark to Zach Goodkin. And while the two-point conversion was dropped by Clark in the end zone, LCC was down just 21-19.
Throughout the night, it seemed like Oceanside would come out with a victory considering Jake Bernard’s exceptional ability to run the football. Bernard, along with Jake Gerardi, were making offensive plays all over the field.
LCC would make a fierce claim for victory, however, as they gained their first lead of the night thanks to a five-yard touchdown run from Zach Goodkin. The play that set up the Goodkin run was a blocked Oceanside punt that gave LCC the ball within yards of the goal line.
In the end, however, this game was Oceanside’s to win.
After a flurry of three-and-outs and a bevy of penalties, Oceanside found victory waiting in the end zone thanks to clutch plays by Shuffer and his receivers.
With less than a five minutes left in the game, Shuffer completed a huge 47-yard pass down the sidelines to Josh Garcia to put Oceanside in position to win it.
Eventually Shuffer would punch in a one-yard touchdown run and give Oceanside a 27-26 victory.
While LCC would have another chance to win it, cornerback Azizi Hearn picked off a Jake Neufeld pass for his second interception of the day as Oceanside went on to win their final home game of this 2016 regular season.
At 6-2, the Oceanside Pirates head into El Camino to play the lowly Wildcats for the Oceanside City Championship and a potential Avocado League title.
Meanwhile, LCC hosts Torrey Pines in the 2016 Beach Bowl game for a chance to play spoilers to Torrey Pines’ title chances.
The La Costa Canyon Mavericks (5-3) and Oceanside Pirates (6-2) are caught in a four-way race for first place in the Avocado League going into Friday night’s matchup in Oceanside.
With a 3-1 league record, the Mavericks are in prime position to win the Avocado League if Mission Hills loses their week 9 game to the Torrey Pines Falcons.
Regardless of the Mission Hills game, the Mavericks would need to win out in order to secure a chance at the League title.
That said, Oceanside could secure the title if they beat LCC and have Mission Hills, Torrey Pines and San Marcos drop their final games.
If Mission Hills wins either of their next two games, however, the league title will be theirs.
Considering these playoff implications, this is a must-win game for both teams.
LCC comes into the game with momentum after beating up on San Marcos 38-21 thanks to the step-up offensive play of QB-WR Tanner Clark.
Along with dual-threat Zach Goodkin, the La Costa Canyon offense is as high-powered as any in the county. Goodkin joins a plethora of talented backs that can dish out hits and catch passes out of the backfield.
The LCC defense virtually shut down Bryson Bolin and the San Marcos offense last week, holding the Knights to just 21 points.
If LCC is going to leave Oceanside with a victory, the Mavs will need to shut down senior quarterback Max Shuffer and the Pirates offense.
With 1,956 yards, 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions through the air, and 223 yards and six touchdowns on the ground, Shuffer is an offensive dynamo.
With help from running backs Tevin Meadows (362 yards and three touchdowns) and Jake Bernard (284 yards and three touchdowns), Shuffer leads a very balanced Oceanside attack.
Shuffer has help in the receiving corps, though, with do-it-all receivers Jake Gerardi (594 yards and six touchdowns off of 24 receptions), Julian Hicks (434 yards and five touchdowns off of 19 receptions) and Puka Kaleopa-Tuisee (402 yards and five touchdowns off of 24 receptions).
On defense, the Pirates have allowed the second-most points in league play this season with an average of 26 points per game allowed.
Their defensive strengths are in their secondary and linebacking corps as they held big QBs like Bryson Bolin to less-than-adequate completion percentages.
In terms of their special teams, both squads have talent as LCC’s Jaquan Carroll has run back multiple kicks back for touchdowns, while Oceanside’s Azizi Hearn averages 30.5 yards per kickoff return with a punt return for a touchdown.
This game should be a tight one with both offenses possessing big-play ability. Ultimately, the team that utilizes their special teams and defensive scoring to their advantage should come out victorious.