City Game of the Week: St. Augustine 24, Vista 12
Friday night kicked off the quarterfinal round of the CIF San Diego Section Football Playoffs! The tenacious Vista Panthers visited the dynamic St. Augustine Saints. Both teams finished the regular season 5 – 5, but each played extremely competitive schedules this season. Vista plays in a very strong Avocado – East League, while the Saints played some of the best Southern California football teams.
These two teams are big up front, extremely physical, and have dynamic playmakers throughout both sides of the ball. It was a perfect chilly football night for the Division 1 Quarterfinal matchup from Mesa College. The six seed Panthers and three seed Saints came in motivated and hungry for victory!
From the first play, it was apparent that these two teams were ready to bring the boom! Each team struggled to sustain any long drives in the first quarter, as the defenses were laying down punishing and effective open field tackling. Vista and St. Augustine each had two possessions but were unable to put any points on the board in the first quarter. One of the highlights of the first quarter play, was the outstanding play from both team’s big men up front in the trenches. This quarter showcased textbook blocking assignment execution, smash mouth tenacity, and precision tackling.
St. Augustine has multiple dynamic offensive threats! In their first drive of the second quarter they decided to put the ball in the hands of running back #20 Elijah Preston. Preston patiently followed his blocks and was finally able to get to the second level where his is most dangerous. He carried the ball 4 times for a total of 86 yards, finishing with a 9 yard touchdown. The Saints were up 7 – 0, but the Panthers were still ready to bring the fight.
Vista kept the ball on the ground mostly, but did allow QB #11 JT Trevino to air it out a few times. His arm looked strong and accurate, however his receivers dropped a few beautiful down field back shoulder throws. The Panthers were unable to get any points on the board, but were able to start moving the ball effectively towards the end of the first half. At halftime the Saints were up 10 – 0.
After halftime it was apparent what adjustments each team was focusing on. Vista decided to switch from the ground game to the air attack. Trevino looked sharp as he connected with wider receiver #5 Ryan Lasua for a 46 yard seam route. The Panthers punched it in to make it 10 – 6, after a missed PAT.
Saints quarterback #7 Thomas Goodridge showed he can put in the air too. Goodridge connected with four different receivers on the ensuing drive, moving his Saints into Panther territory. Running back Elijah Preston blasted through to the second level, broke six tackles, and thrashed for a “play of the year” 34 yard touchdown run. The Saints were back up big, by the score of 17 – 6.
Vista quickly responded on the first play of their next drive. Quarterback Trevino threw a precision bomb to wider receiver #15 Zach Morel for a 60 yard touchdown connection. The Panthers responded bringing the score to 17 – 12. The electric and high scoring 3rd quarter ended with the Saints up by 5 points. It looked like this fight would be decided in the last minutes.
St. Augustine brought it hard in the fourth quarter, to fight off Vista’s comeback attempts. The Saints defense forced the Panthers to punt on their first two fourth quarter possessions. Late in the 4th, St. Augustine was able to put together a methodical rushing attack of running backs Elijah Preston and #29 Francoise Sims. Preston put the dagger in the Panther’s season with a one yard blast, putting the Saints up with a final score of 24 – 12.
Vista and St. Augustine should feel proud of the tenacious effort they played with in this epic quarterfinal battle. Both teams played with immense heart and entertained with some highlight reel hits! The MVP’s of the game are Saints RB Elijah Preston and Panthers QB JT Trevino. Preston finished the game with 192 yards and 3 touchdowns. Trevino wins a MVP because he stepped in to the starting role, in a playoff atmosphere, and played like a precision veteran quarterback! The Saints will move onto the semi-finals next Friday against the El Camino Wildcats. Tune in to KUSI’s Prep Pigskin Report, next Friday at 10:30 PM for semi-final round playoff coverage!