La Costa Canyon Mavericks 23, Mt. Carmel Sundevils 11
By Keith Demolder
The La Costa Canyon Mavericks enacted revenge on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the CIF Division I playoffs in a 23-11 victory over the Mt. Carmel Sundevils.
Coming in as the No. 3 seed in the bracket, the Mavericks came into the game against a Mt. Carmel team that suffered multiple injuries, including a season-ending injury to wide out T.J. Sullivan.
With no seniors touching the ball on offense for the Sundevils, the first half was a total defensive battle with multiple sacks and drive-ending incompletions.
Thanks to some explosive runs by replacement quarterback Rueben Flowers, the Sundevils got on the board first with a 30-yard field goal.
LCC would answer though with a field goal of their own to knot the game up at 3 going into the half.
After halftime, the Mavericks took control of the game.
Explosive running back Karson Lippert utilized his sprinter's speed and took a handoff 92 yards to pay dirt.
Mt. Carmel had a chance to equalize the 10-3 LCC lead when Paleak Deng intercepted a Jake Neufeld pass in the third quarter. However, on fourth down, Mt. Carmel's fake punt was stopped by the Mavericks.
On that ensuing drive, the Mavericks scored a 59-yard touchdown thanks to some razzle dazzle from Neufeld to wide receiver Jake Cashman to the final quarterback Tanner Clark who then threw the ball to an embarrassingly wide open Curren Castro who then took the ball to the house.
With a 17-3 lead, the Mavericks decided to add yet another score with a 77-yard Neufeld touchdown run from the shotgun.
After a missed PAT from La Costa, the score stood at 23-3 in the fourth and MCHS had a chance to come back.
With the Mavs pinned deep in their own territory, the Sundevils blocked the punt out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
Unfortunately, Mt. Carmel could not capitalize and ended up fumbling the ball, which was recovered by LCC's Taj Sherman.
Eventually, the Sundevils would get on the board late in the fourth thanks to a 5-yard touchdown pass from Sean Casey to Quoi Ellis to make the game 23-11 after a missed 2-point conversion.
Mt. Carmel then recovered an onside kick to give them hope, but multiple LCC stops, including a monster sack from line backer Nick Demos, sealed the deal and a win for the Mavericks.
Next week, the Mavericks (6-5) will travel to San Diego Mesa College to play the St. Augustine Saints in the semifinals of the D-I playoffs.
There is nothing better in high school sports than revenge--especially in the playoffs.
For the No. 3 La Costa Canyon Mavericks (5-5), Friday night’s Division I quarterfinals game is a chance for the Mavs to avenge their 13-9 loss at the hands of the No. 6 Mt. Carmel Sundevils (7-4) earlier this season.
Against the No. 11 Eastlake Titans, Mt. Carmel squeaked out a 22-20 victory off of a game-winning 22-yard Ashlin Morey field goal with 17 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
The game was sloppy from both teams as Eastlake averaged just 5.3 yards per offensive play with an interception being returned for a touchdown. Two of Eastlake’s five completions, however, went to Micah Pietila-Wiggs who then scored touchdowns of 86 and 14 yards and put Eastlake up 20-19 in the second half.
Mt. Carmel, on the other hand, completed 8 of 17 passes, while fumbling the ball five times. It was their running game of DJ Figone, Spencer Jackson and Matthew Holmes who combined for 202 yards and a touchdown.
Ultimately, it was Ashlin Morey was the hero of the game with a playoff-saving field goal.
After such a narrow escape against Eastlake in the first round, Mt. Carmel is ready to make Friday the second time in as many years the Mavericks have been bounced from the playoffs in the early round.
Reason being: the Sundevils possess an offense that simply does not stop.
This year, Mt. Carmel has passed for 1,420 yards and 13 touchdowns, while rushing for 2,120 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Where MCHS could have the upper hand on the Mavs is in terms of depth.
Of the Sundevils’ 3,540 total yards on offense, their production is distributed among four different quarterbacks, 19 running backs and 10 receivers.
With that type of offensive versatility, the Mavericks’ defensive assignments will be plentiful.
Speaking of defense, Mt. Carmel can make plays up front and in the secondary.
Chiemeka Ochi holds 14.5 of the team’s 36.5 sacks, while Paleak Deng’s 3 interceptions returned for touchdowns lead an offense that has 13 interceptions, 10 fumble recoveries, a blocked punt and six defensive touchdowns (5 interception returns, 1 fumble return).
On special teams, Morey provides the Sundevils with an accurate leg, while Quoi Ellis and T.J. Sullivan can bring back almost any kick for six (3 combined kick return touchdowns).
For La Costa Canyon, the Mavericks will have to try hard to forget their 13-9 loss at Mt. Carmel during the second week of the season.
In the loss, LCC tallied only 189 yards of total offense as quarterback Jake Neufeld completed 6 of 25 for 74 yards and two interceptions. Jaquan Carroll and Zach Goodkin helped the Mavs to 115 rushing yards, while the Sundevils racked up 105 yards and a touchdown through the air and 162 yards on the ground.
Mt. Carmel sacked Neufeld 6 times, recovering a fumble in the process.
LCC’s defense would intercept quarterback Sean Casey and recover 3 of MC’s 7 fumbles.
Considering the game could have gone either way, La Costa will need to have all of their position players executing to a T in order to take down Mt. Carmel.
The way that the Mavs could move onto the semi-finals could be through the legs of their talented backs.
This year, the Mavs have rushed for 1,530 yards and 18 touchdowns thanks to speedy backs like Zach Goodkin and Karson Lippert.
Goodkin has game-breaking potential with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage (603 rush, 403 receiving) and an ability to make defenders miss.
Since week one, the linebacking corps have been the staple of the LCC defense.
While their front seven doesn’t sack the quarterback as often as Mt. Carmel, they can bring ball carriers down behind the line of scrimmage with consistency (40 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, 9 interceptions).
Against a team that thrives off of the run, the Mavericks will need all of their defense on high alert.
In the 2016 Beach Bowl against Torrey Pines, the Falcons put up 41 points on the Mavericks utilizing running back Sully O’Brien.
If the Mavs want to win this one, they are going to need better play from their front seven.
At the end of the day, this game will be close with both teams bringing to the table talent.
Ultimately though, I believe this game will be decided by non-offensive forces as the Mt. Carmel defense and special teams can single-handedly win the game on their own.