Oceanside Pirates 41, San Marcos Knights 14
For the 22nd straight year, the Oceanside Pirates (7-4) are heading to one of their division’s semifinal games, after a convincing 41-14 win over the visiting San Marcos Knights on Friday.
As the fourth quarter wound down in Oceanside, reports were already circulating that the Point Loma Pointers had defeated the Poway Titans in another quarterfinal match, giving the Pirates a chance to settle into the idea of facing Point Loma in the semifinals as they continued to dominate the Knights.
By then, Pirates quarterback Robby Beardsley was already relaxing on the sidelines, given the rest that Oceanside coach Dave Rodriguez opted to give him with such a big lead. Before being rested, Beardsley threw for three touchdowns and 106 yards. The prettiest of his scores came in the second quarter when, with around 20 seconds remaining in the first half, he found senior wide receiver Isaia Paopao in the back left corner of the end zone. Way back.
An outstretched arm from Paopao caught the fans’ attention as he first got his fingers on the ball, then kept control of it for the one-handed 6-yard grab, and the touchdown. The catch dominated conversations in the crowd through the next quarter.
Beardsley’s other two scores came in the first quarter, on a 10-yard pass to Max Shuffer, and in the third quarter, on a 31-yard pass to Anthony Martinez.
The Pirates’ special teams units played big roles in the win, setting up Oceanside’s first two scores after securing position deep in San Marcos territory. Azizi Hearn and Taj Apodaca teamed up in the first quarter to set up the Pirates’ opening score when they shared a tackle of San Marcos’ punter, who had just tried to secure a fumbled snap on a punt attempt. Hearn and Apodaca made sure the punt never made it to the air.
Then, still in the first quarter and with San Marcos receiving an Oceanside punt, the Knights’ return man, Kyle Philips, was unable to handle the ball, losing it fewer than 30 yards from the Knights’ own end zone. Dominic Iacovino was there to recover. Within a few plays, Niko Mageo was running the ball in from 15 yards out, giving the Pirates a two score lead that would only get bigger.
As the No. 1 seed in Division 1 play, Oceanside will now host in one the division’s semifinal games the Point Loma Pointers, in Week 14 of the Prep Pigskin Report next Friday.
After enjoying a bye in the first round of the San Diego Section Division 1 playoffs, the top-seeded Oceanside Pirates will play host to the San Marcos Knights, who fresh off their first-round win over Ramona will look to avenge their Week 1 loss to the Pirates and claim their spot among the final four teams left on the road to a championship.
Seeded No. 8 in the division with an 8-3 overall record, the Knights finished second in the Avocado-East league this season, but are the highest-seeded team from the league in the Division 1 bracket as Mission Hills will be busy looking to advance in the Open Division playoffs. Oceanside rode the edge of the Open Division-Division 1 line for much of the season, with a 6-4 record that could have landed the the team in either bracket. Awarded the top spot in Division 1, the Pirates should enter Friday well-rested.
The late-season resurgence of the Pirates’ offense — including solid play from quarterback Robby Beardsley, receiver Taj Apodaca and running back Niko Mageo — provided a glimmer of resemblance to prior seasons’ Oceanside teams, and could set the stage for a true battle against a San Marcos offense anchored by Silver Pigskin nominee Terrell Burgess and the county’s leading passer, quarterback Bryson Bolin.
Expect San Marcos to look to prove its advancement into Division 1 this season was warranted, after a loss in the Division 2 championship a year ago and a 2015 season that kept the team hovering around the Top 10.
Friday’s match-up between the Pirates and Knights is set to begin at 7 p.m. at Oceanside High School. Catch the game’s highlights, and more playoff results from around the county, on KUSI’s Prep Pigskin Report, starting Friday at 10:30 on KUSI.