2018 CIF San Diego Section Open Division Final: Cathedral Catholic Dons 28, Torrey Pines Falcons 17

Last night marked one of, if not the most anticipated game of the San Diego prep football season. The #1 and #2 teams in the county, the Torrey Pines Falcons and the Cathedral Catholic Dons battled it out over the 2018 CIF Open Division Championship. After back-and-forth scoring all night, the Dons emerged victorious, 28-17.

Torrey Pines started out with the ball, and quickly jumped into the driver’s seat by scoring on their first possession. It was a beautiful 39-yard effort by Mac Bingham, Falcons running back and Silver Pigskin Finalist. Bingham was responsible for both of the Falcons touchdowns, the second coming in the form of a 3-yard scamper to give the Falcons a 14-0 lead.

On the ensuing possession, the Dons offense woke up. Shawn Poma, Cathedral’s own Silver Pigskin Finalist, got loose and rumbled 65-yards for the first of three Poma touchdowns on the night.

Just after Ted Merrifield hit a field goal for Torrey, Dons QB DJ Ralph threw a beautiful back-corner fade to Zion Sorani from three yards out. This would be the final scoring play of the first half, and we entered halftime with a 17-14 Falcons lead.

Shawn Poma dominated the second half. He took a 3-yard plunge to give the Dons their first lead of the game, 21-17. This was made possible when Ralph and receiver Josh Lewis connected for a massive 34-yard gain, taking the Dons into scoring position.

Poma capped off the night with a beautiful 38-yard touchdown reception deep in the 4th quarter. Just six of his forty-five career touchdowns came from receptions, but you wouldn’t have known it with how smooth the play was. Ralph hit Poma over the middle and Poma was off to the races.

Torrey Pines played extremely well, and Mac Bingham had a fantastic game. Poma and Bingham were the focus of their teams’ offenses, and they each racked up yards and touchdowns before time expired. While these were strong showings for both players ahead of the December 4th Silver Pigskin Gala, they are but two of the six finalists. We’ll have to wait for next week’s Division Finals games before seeing if Poma and Bingham have helped their chances of taking home San Diego’s highest prep football honor.

Torrey Pines finishes their year with a 10-1 record, while the Dons now sit at 11-1. The Dons will advance to the first round of the CIF State playoffs, but their opponent will not be determined until November 25th. Follow @kusippr on Twitter and Instagram for more updates!

———-PREVIEW———-

It might seem like Week One wasn’t all that long ago, but another wonderful season of CIF-San Diego Section football is all but over. The handful of games that remain are the most highly-anticipated matchups of the season: the CIF Divisional Finals. Of these finals, none will garner as much attention as the titanic clash between the #1-seeded Torrey Pines Falcons (10-0) and the #2 Cathedral Catholic Dons (10-1). This Open Division decider pairs the two best programs in the county, as well as two of our 2018 Silver Pigskin Award finalists.

After bowing out in the semifinals last season, the Falcons have finally made it to the Open Division finals. This looks to be the crown jewel in a brilliant undefeated season that saw the Torreys outscore their opponents 358-163.

Cathedral is one year removed from a lackluster 5-7 finish and two years removed from a 15-0 record and State title. This week, the Dons find themselves with an opportunity to add another golden chapter to their program’s storied history.

The Falcons can largely thank star senior running back Mac Bingham for so much of their success this season. Bingham, who also captains the baseball team and is committed to USC for the same, has compiled an exceptional stat-line this year. He amassed 24 touchdowns and more than 1500 rushing yards, a truly remarkable campaign. He will be one of the six young men vying for the Silver Pigskin Award on December 4th.

One of those other young men is Cathedral’s own prized talisman: Shawn Poma. Poma was one of the driving forces behind the Dons’ 2016 Division 1-AA CIF Section and State title double-whammy. After missing the 2017 season to injury, Poma has an opportunity to lead the Dons back to the promised land. Poma has just recorded the second 1000+ rushing yard season of his high school career and has 14 touchdowns this year.

Poma is far from the only offensive threat in the Dons’ lineup, however. Cathedral employs a full stable of running backs and aren’t afraid to limit Poma’s touches early. This allows Poma to be even more dangerous as games wear on. Receiver Zion Sorani is an explosive asset and is averaging almost 27 yards per catch this year.

In addition to having stellar running backs, these teams share another key similarity. In many ways, this shared trait is why these programs have been so successful; both programs returned many starters from last year.

This is especially pronounced on defense, as Torrey Pines returned seven starters and only gave up 163 points this season. The Dons returned eight starters and conceded an astonishing 102 points this season. That statistic becomes even more incredible when you consider that they managed to score 371 points!

These programs embody the perfect mix of athleticism and strategy, of talent and experience. These factors are why they’re considered to be the two top programs in the county and should make this showdown one of the very best this year has to offer.

Fans wanting to witness this thrilling matchup should be at Southwestern College on Saturday for the 7p.m. kickoff!

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