Torrey Pines Falcons 41, La Costa Canyon Mavericks 9
By Keith Demolder
The 2016 Beach Bowl and Golden Surfboard belong to the Torrey Pines Falcons.
After a 13-0 loss at home in 2015, the Falcons came back to La Costa Canyon and stomped the Mavericks with a 41-9 victory thanks to the legs and hands of running back Sully O'Brien.
The game started slowly as both teams exchanged long, but unfruitful drives. Eventually, Sully O'Brien--the captain of the Falcons' 2016 Beach Bowl victory--touched down in the end zone for six multiple times.
O'Brien first got on the board with a five-yard touchdown run and then another run of 11 and 14 yards by the end of the first half. LCC kicked a field goal to make it 20-3 at the half, but could never even really keep up to Torrey Pines's offensive attack.
By running the ball on a gross majority of their plays, Torrey could gain a lot of yardage and run down a lot of the play clock. Eventually, Miles Hastings completed a 39-yard touchdown in the middle of the field to none other than Sully O'Brien.
O'Brien would score his fifth touchdown of the evening thanks to a 3-yard touchdown run that put up TP 34-3 in the fourth quarter.
All night long the offensive and defensive lines of Torrey Pines were getting big pushes up front. On the defensive side, Torrey Pines had five sacks and multiple fumble recoveries. While on the offensive side, the offensive line paved the way for over 200 yards in rushing offense.
With five total touchdowns, Sully O'Brien earned PPR Player of the Game honors and ultimately won the game for Torrey Pines.
Carson Ward added a 27-yard touchdown run at the end of the fourth quarter to make the score 41-3 before LCC heaved a last-minute Hail Mary that eventually landed in the hands of Tanner Clark.
Discounting their one touchdown reception allowed to Tanner Clark, the Falcons were able to rattle Jake Neufeld, causing him to throw multiple interceptions.
With the victory, Torrey Pines (8-2) not only adds another win to a historic rivalry, but they also clinched the Avocado League title and a place in the CIF Open Division Playoff Bracket.
LCC (5-5), on the other hand, could be placed at the lower end of the Division I bracket and will most likely have to travel on the road in the first round.
Rivalries are what make sports great and La Costa Canyon vs. Torrey Pines is what makes San Diego high school football amazing.
For years, the fledgling LCC could not find a way to defeat Torrey in football despite exceptional seasons.
Since that time, La Costa has bested Torrey in nine of the past 12 Beach Bowls and one of the three postseason contests.
History aside, these two teams both have reasons to expect a victory on Friday night.
With the opportunity to seal the Avocado League title, the Torrey Pines Falcons (7-2, 4-1) come into the Beach Bowl with an option-heavy, run-based offense that loves to go up the middle early and often.
Leading the charge on offense is senior back Luke Duerr, who has rushed for 674 yards and eight touchdowns on 124 carries thanks to a steadfast offensive line of Jacob Raab, Michael Perrone and Yujay Kurosu.
Along with Duerr, running backs Sully O’Brien (544 yards and five touchdowns) and Gabe Gmyr (126 yards and three touchdowns), and quarterback Jason Heine (162 yards and three touchdowns) lead one of the top rushing attacks.
While Heine is the primary running quarterback (only completed three of his 37 pass attempts), sophomore Miles Hastings can complete play action passes with efficiency. This season, Hastings has 463 passing yards, two touchdowns and a 13.6 yards-per-completion average.
Out of 12 different Falcons to catch a pass this season, Michael Gladinis is Torrey’s leading receiver with 282 yards and one touchdown off of 16 receptions.
Defensively, TP relies on primarily a three-man front and a defense that thrives in the secondary. And with multiple ball-hawk defensive backs like Carsen Gentes, the Falcons can surely defend against the pass.
The three-man front, however, could allow LCC’s backs like Zach Goodkin and Tanner Clark to run big holes.
Along with speedsters Brett Pueschel (191 yards and three touchdowns) and Karson Lippert (126 yards and three touchdowns), dual-threat Goodkin (525 rushing yards and two touchdowns, 10 receptions for 229 yards and three touchdowns) and WR-QB Clark (42 yards and two touchdowns) are the motors which allow this offense to run.
Through the air, junior QB Jake Neufeld is the go-to guy and can drop back in the pocket to deliver throws with ease.
With receivers like Clark and Jake Cashman (27 receptions for 335 yards and two touchdowns), racking up yards down the field has not been a problem.
Defensively, LCC relies on an exceptional front seven that consists of sure-fire All-Avocado candidates Nick Demos (54 tackles, four tackles for loss and one sack), Alec Varteressian (49 tackles, five tackles for loss and one sack) and Cade Mediera (35 tackles, seven tackles for loss and three sacks).
On special teams, Torrey Pines can consistently stop opposing returners, however, La Costa has speedy Jaquan Carroll who has returned multiple kicks for touchdowns this season.
Overall, Torrey Pines has a proven track record with big wins over top-ranked Mission Hills and Oceanside, but key losses to Santa Fe Christian and San Marcos. LCC, on the other hand, has notched victories against Whittier’s La Serna and crosstown rival Carlsbad, while losing to Oceanside and Mission Hills.
Much like their basketball games, however, regular season records won’t matter in the 2016 Beach Bowl.