Four Catholic school football teams’ seasons came to sad (but not necessarily disappointing) endings over the weekend as all were defeated in their respective CIF Southern Section divisional championships games.
Chaminade, Loyola, St. Paul and St. Pius X-St. Matthias lost, though the latter three made the games close and were within striking distance when their contests ended. A look at each:
Division 2: Sierra Canyon 35, Chaminade 7
Having played tough opponents all year, Chaminade took a 7-3 lead over the defending Division 3 champs when Jaylen Henderson completed a 31-yard touchdown pass to Ian Duarte early in the second quarter. But Sierra Canyon stormed back to lead 20-7 at the half and pulled away in the second half to win the D-2 title. Chaminade finished the season 8-6.
Division 4: San Juan Hills 21, Loyola 15
Playing in their first CIF final since 2005 before a sellout crowd, the host Cubs (6-7) fell behind early and never quite caught up despite a stirring fourth quarter rally. For the Stallions (11-3), it was their first CIF title, as Joey Hobert rushed for two touchdowns, returning a fumble for another, and blocked an extra point.
Loyola scored in between the first two touchdowns but eventually fell behind 21-6 in the second half on Hobert’s third TD. A touchdown and a field goal closed the gap to 21-15, and the Cubs recovered an onside kick to give them one last chance, thwarted by an end zone interception to ice the win for San Juan Hills.
Division 5: Aquinas 21, St. Paul 16
Aquinas running back Teryon Sweet ran for 200 yards and scored three second-half touchdowns to rally the Falcons of San Bernardino (12-2) over the Swordsmen (12-2) at Santa Fe Springs.
St. Paul led 10-0 at the half on Miles Mena’s 24-yard field goal and Gene Valdez’ 33-yard touchdown pass to Angel Garcia. Then Sweet scored twice in the third quarter, the second TD coming after Aquinas recovered an onside kick, and scored his third TD on a 41-yard run with six minutes left.
Valdez and Garcia hooked up on a 10-yard touchdown pass with two minutes left to narrow the gap, but an onside kick was unsuccessful and Aquinas had its second CIF title in three seasons. Garcia also blocked a field goal and intercepted a pass for St. Paul, which had sought its first CIF title since 1981.
Division 14: South Torrance 25, St. Pius X-St. Matthias 20
St. Pius X-St. Matthias’ undefeated season and No. 1 ranking came to an end on the winners’ field, though the Warriors’ appearance in the title game, after bringing football back to campus only a few seasons ago, was a significant accomplishment itself.
The outcome might have been victorious had the Warriors (12-1) avoided several mistakes at key moments. As it was, Cade Bargar scored four touchdowns for the Spartans (10-4), the last early in the fourth quarter to complete a comeback from a 20-13 third-quarter deficit.
For the Warriors, Daushin Wright ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns, and Domingo Ladson blocked an extra point and caught a TD pass from Ahmir Ford. Two fourth quarter penalties killed St. Pius X-St. Matthias drives inside the Spartans’ 30-yard line to seal the verdict.