The El Centro Southwest Eagles are this year’s CIF Division III Champions, thanks to their tremendous team performance in the 35-28 victory over Santa Fe Christian on Friday afternoon. With the win, the Eagles accomplished their first-ever perfect season in school history.
The D. III championship game was a hard-fought battle until the very end. Santa Fe Christian showed an incredible amount of resilience to fight back and keep the score close throughout the game, up until the very last drive. Each time Southwest took the lead, Santa Fe Christian would come knocking, scoring another touchdown to cut their deficit to just one touchdown or to tie the game back up. But in the end, it was Southwest’s all-around team effort that won them the game, with players on both offense and defense coming up with clutch plays in high-pressure situations.
Tyler Saikhon kicked off the action for Southwest, taking it to the house with a 2-yard run to put the Eagles up 7-0. When Santa Fe Christian scored a touchdown of their own, thanks to Joe Burich’s speedy 8-yard run, Saikhon responded with another 3-yard rushing touchdown. With his two touchdowns in the game and twenty-four total TDs on the season, Saikhon has proven himself to be one of the most dominant offensive players on the Eagles’ roster.
In the second quarter, Luke Sanders of Santa Fe Christian charged 40 yards down the field, setting up his teammate Austin Rosetti for a 1-yard touchdown run to tie the game 14-14. Justin Cordova then fought back and re-established the lead for Southwest with a 2-yard touchdown run, putting Southwest up 21-14. Santa Fe Christian responded with a drive that looked promising, until Southwest’s Logan Chell came up with a huge interception. That pick would lead to a 4-yard TD run again by Justin Cordova to make the score 28-14 Southwest.
In the second half, Santa Fe Christian came out with a vengeance, scoring on their first drive as Luke Sanders took it home with a 5-yard run to cut the Eagles’ deficit to just one touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Southwest came up with a huge defensive play. With Santa Fe Christian on the pitch, Southwest’s Carlos Ruiz caught the football in mid-air and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown to put Southwest up 35-21. Yet again, Santa Fe Christian continued to show their grit, as Michael Linguadoca completed a beautiful 68-yard touchdown pass to Joe Burich to make the score 35-28 Southwest.
With a minute left, Santa Fe Christian had a solid opportunity to tie the game and force overtime, but Southwest’s defense came up big when it mattered most. Southwest’s Derek Guzman made a crucial interception with less than a minute left, which would ultimately seal the deal for Southwest.
The final score was 35-28 in a game that was exciting and suspenseful until the very last minute. Be sure to tune in to the All Sports Report on KUSI this Saturday at 10:45pm for highlights and recaps of this game, along with the D. II and Open Division Championship games taking place on Saturday.
PREVIEW: The week we have all been waiting for has finally arrived. The 2017 CIF San Diego Section football championships will feature some of the best teams in the county squaring off to be named victors in each division. Division III will showcase the battle of the Eagles. The No. 1 seed El Centro Southwest will take on the No. 2 seed Santa Fe Christian at 12:00pm this Saturday, Dec. 2nd at Southwestern College, in the first of three championship match-ups to be held that day.
Southwest EC, led by head coach John Mitonsinka, claims an undefeated 12-0 record for the first time in school history. The Eagles are coming off a dominating 62-18 victory over Hilltop in the semi-finals last week. Southwest EC took control early in the game, scoring 27 points in the first half and leading by a score of 41-0 at halftime. In the quarterfinals, Southwest EC asserted their dominance by defeating Mount Miguel 39-12. The Eagles are looking to make their mark this year in Division III, having moved up from their spot in Division IV last year. After losing to La Jolla Country Day in the semi-finals to close out the 2016 season, the Eagles have certainly impressed in 2017 - and they have the potential to go all the way.
Santa Fe Christian, anchored by head coach John Wallace, has an overall record of 8-4. The Eagles defeated San Pasqual 14-12 in the semi-final game at Torrey Pines High School last Friday, showing composure despite San Pasqual’s second half surge. Santa Fe Christian cruised through the quarterfinals the week prior, beating La Jolla by a score of 63-14. The Eagles have proved they are in it for the long haul, looking to prove themselves this year after falling to Lincoln by just one point in last year’s D. III quarterfinals.
On the Southwest EC squad, watch for senior Tyler Saikhon (#3) to be the dominating force on the Eagles’ offense, as he averages an impressive 224.7 yards per game. In the past 12 games, Saikhon has accrued 169 carries for 1,451 yards for a whopping 22 touchdowns. Saikhon’s talent doesn’t stop with running the ball; he also has contributed 606 receiving yards, 309 kickoff return yards, and 251 punt return yards for a total of 2,696 all-purpose yards. Meanwhile senior Cameron Jungers (#5) leads the team at QB, with 73 passes for 1,530 yards and 20 touchdowns. Nine of those touchdowns have been on connections with Saikhon. Another reliable runner for the Eagles is senior Justin Cordova (#11). With 66 carries for 613 yards, Cordova has tallied five touchdowns so far this season. On the defense end, keep your eye out for Israel Zermeno (#9) who has made 118 tackles including 70 solo tackles so far this season.
As for Santa Fe Christian, watch for junior Jack Miles (#8) to add to his team-leading rushing yards. Miles has 108 carries for 552 yards and 9 touchdowns on the season. Next in line is junior Michael Linguadoca (#12), who has 58 carries for 433 yards and 5 touchdowns so far this season. These numbers are all the more impressive for Linguadoca because he is also the quarterback, and has posted 39 passes for 911 yards and 10 touchdowns. His total yards add up to 1,344 so far this season. On the receiving end, keep your eye out for senior Luke Sanders to take it to the house, as he has seven catches for 299 yards and five touchdowns. On defense, look for senior Chase Whitton (#44) to make big plays, as he has already posted 63 tackles including 36 solo tackles on the season.
Kickoff is set for noon this Saturday. Be sure to tune in to the All Sports Report on KUSI this Saturday at 10:45pm for highlights and recaps of this game, along with the two other championship games taking place that day. And don't forget to follow @KUSIPPR for scoring updates, as well as pre-game and post-game content, for each of the championship match-ups this Saturday.