In the First Round of the Division IV playoffs Thursday night, the #6 Coronado Islanders (9-2) won a back and forth battle over the Central Spartans (3-8) 20-17 to advance to the Quarterfinals. Despite numerous penalties, injuries, and turnovers, the Islanders rallied in the fourth quarter to pull off the victory.
Coronado would strike first with a Caleb Evans 20 yard touchdown run putting the Islanders up 7-0 halfway through the first quarter. Though they held an early lead, not having leading rusher Dan Komorowski suited up was major impact to the game. The Islanders for much of the contest failed to sustain offensive consistency as false starts, holding penalties and fumbles riddled their night. Central would tie the game on the first play of the second quarter when Nick Ramirez scored from the four yard line, a drive aided by Coronado penalties. The Spartans would take the lead but two minutes later when quarterback/kicker Ricky Guzman made a 32 yard field goal. Again unable to move the ball with any regularity, the Islanders turned to their bag of tricks late in the half when Coronado quarterback Briley Knight connected with Joe Byrne on the flea-flicker for 43 yards. One play later, Braeden Laughlin (playing RB in replacement of Komorowski) scored on a one yard touchdown run. Coronado would retake the lead heading into halftime, 14-10.
With both teams incapable of keeping drives alive in the third quarter, Central would start their first drive of the final frame with excellent field position at the 50 yard line. On a fourth down and short, Guzman handed off to Ramirez, who bursted through a whole along the right side of the offensive line before cutting back to be dragged down by his facemask 25 yards downfield. The additional 15 yards from the penalty put the Spartans in the red zone, and three plays later Ricky Guzman found paydirt from four yards out. It was a third and one from the four yard line, and simply running a QB sneak, the Spartans offensive line gave Guzman enough push for him to fight across the goal line. Central would hold a 17-14 lead just two minutes into the fourth quarter. Putting together one of their best drives of the night offensively, Briley Knight led the Islanders into Central territory. Unfortunately for Coronado, the Spartan defense would force a fumble, recovered by their own Gus Quinones. However, just as quickly as Coronado turned the ball over, Central fumbled it right back and Alex Cheever jumped on the loose ball. The Islanders started the drive at the Central 39 yard line, but would quickly find themselves faced with fourth down and three yards to keep their season alive. The Islanders needed three yards, and Briley Knight got them five. Putting the team, and much of the Island, on his back with under four minutes in the contest, Knight would find an open Micah Rickard in the back left corner of the end zone for a 14 yard touchdown pass. After failing the point after, Coronado led 20-17. Then stopping the Spartans best effort on fourth down with 40 seconds left, Coronado kneeled its way to victory.
The Islanders fought through much adversity to advance to the next round. They will surely watch the film and work to correct this weeks mistakes before taking on #3 Santana in the Division IV Quarterfinals next Friday, November 18th.
PREVIEW: It’s a beautiful word for sports fans at any level: Playoffs. A new season has begun for 68 teams across six divisions. In the First Round of the Division IV Playoffs, the #6 Coronado Islanders (8-2) will host the #11 Central Spartans (3-7). Due the Holiday on Friday, this game will be played Thursday, November 10th at 7:00pm.
Records go out the window at this time of year. It’s very simple, win and you get to keep playing for one more week. Lose and your season is over. Though it may be a long trip from the desert for Central, it’s a trip they would love to make for another week at least. Senior quarterback/running back/kicker/punter Ricky Guzman does the majority of his damage with his legs. Rushing 158 times for 870 yards and five touchdowns, Guzman will be a major key to the Spartans offensive success this Thursday. Defensively, Central is led by Senior defensive back Raymond Ortiz. Standing only 5’6”, Ortiz may not look imposing to the opposition, however, he is third on the team in tackles (42), and has a team high five interceptions. Sophomore linebacker, and team leader in tackles, Isaiah Moreno will surely be called upon to try and stop the Islanders rushing attack.
The Central League Champions will begin the toughest part of their Division IV Championship defense. Coronado has been balanced offensively all year, which can be attributed to the play of running back Dan Komorowski and quarterback Briley Knight. These two have been a dynamic duo this season in the Islanders backfield. Komorowski has rushed for over 700 yards and 14 touchdowns. Knight has completed 60 passes for 1,335 yards and 16 scores, while adding over 500 yards with his legs and 9 touchdowns on the ground. Senior tight end Wyatt Montague has been tough to stop as seven of his 14 receptions have gone for touchdowns. Islanders linebacker Hugo Shirey, who has a team high 67 tackles, will lead Coronado’s defense this week.
Many Seniors on both teams might remember the 2014 Division IV Quarterfinals, where Central defeated Coronado 24-21 with a late 4th quarter field goal. That is the one and only time these schools have played each other before. The winner of this contest will advance to face #3 Santana in the Division IV Quarterfinals. Though kickoff from Coronado High School will be on Thursday at 7:00pm, you can still see all the highlights from this game and many others on the Prep Pigskin Report on Friday at 10:30pm.