The El Camino Wildcats are CIF champions for the first time since 1999, with their stifling defense leading the way to a 20-10 win over the Eastlake Titans in the Division I title game.
The game's first big splash came courtesy of the Wildcat defense, as Donnel Frazier ended the first Eastlake drive with an interception. Two plays later, Chris Brown sprinted around the left side for a 50-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
The Titans made their first mark on the scoreboard thanks to the foot of DJ De Fierro, who booted a 39-yard field goal. But El Camino responded with another big play, this time a 42-yard strike from Jaden Casey to Malachi Russell to make the lead 13-3 after the first quarter.
The Wildcat defense continued to get their hands on the ball, with Daniel Naranjo picking off a pass and Jacob Sega diving on a fumble. El Camino turned that loose ball into seven points, as Brown capped off the ensuing drive with a 16-yard run for his second score.
Rhyzon McCoy gave Eastlake a spark at the quarterback spot in the second half, finding Micah Pietila-Wiggs in the end zone the cut the lead to ten. But El Camino would hang on tight till the end, with Brown grinding out yards on a final clock-killing drive, to give the Wildcats their ninth section title in school history.
PREVIEW: The top two seeds in Division I go toe-to-toe for the CIF title this Friday night, as the #2 Eastlake Titans (10-2) take on the #1 El Camino Wildcats (7-5) at Southwestern College.
Both teams are in the midst of bounce-back seasons, with El Camino posting a 3-8 record in 2016 and Eastlake finishing just 2-9. This year, the Titans have only lost one game against San Diego competition, a 31-28 thriller against Otay Ranch.
Jalyn Jackson led the way for Eastlake in the semifinals, scoring on both a 58-yard catch and a 93-yard kickoff return in the 24-21 win over Carlsbad. Roman Coe chipped in 16 carries for 108 yards and a score against the Lancers. He leads the team this season with 760 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns.
Daniel Amon takes the snaps for the Titans, throwing for 1554 yards with 16 scores and just 4 interceptions. The versatile Micah Pietila-Wiggs has scored ten touchdowns on offense, has thrown for another score, and has picked off 4 passes on defense.
Eastlake's front seven has spent plenty of quality time with the opposition's quarterback. Donyal Thompson has 11 sacks, Richard Corpus has 9, and Joshua McCurty has 6, part of his team-high 187 tackles.
On Friday, they'll be chasing Jaden Casey, who threw for 3 touchdowns and ran for 2 more (including the game-winner with 13 seconds left) in El Camino's 49-42 win over Oceanside. Casey's final score not only booked a spot for the Wildcats at Southwestern, but also avenged a 27-24 loss to the Pirates on November 3.
Malachi Russell caught five passes in the semifinal, good for 137 yards and two touchdowns. On the season, he's racked up 1293 yards and 12 scores. Wayne Steward is the other main threat on the outside, with 828 yards and 7 trips to the end zone.
The backfield belongs to Chris Brown, with 770 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. Rocky Katoanga spearheads the defense, with 107 tackles and 4 sacks.
Follow all the action on Twitter and Instagram, at @kusippr and @redjacketarmy. And of course, you can see all the highlights on the Prep Pigskin Report at 10:30 p.m., only on KUSI.