SAN DIEGO — It seemed like an improbable way to win a section championship game-scoring almost as many points on safeties, six, as your opponent did the entire game--but it was that kind of season for the El Camino Wildcats.
Every game was a struggle, every offensive possession an adventure. Saturday night was no different, but like it has all year, it came to the rescue. It sacked Kearny quarterback Sam Page eight times and held Darnay Scott to just two receptions in El Camino's 26-7 victory at Jack Murphy Stadium.
By winning, the Wildcats became the first 2-A team since Lincoln in 1985 and 1986 to capture back-to-back titles.
The title was Meyer's fifth at El Camino in his 15 years at the school. And because of all the problems--player defections, injuries, etc.--Meyer said this one might be his most gratifying.
"Every one is special by itself," Meyer said. "This one is probably more fun than any of them because of all the things involved. We don't have many seniors. So we have a chance to be decent next year."
Fortunately for Meyer and unfortunately for the rest of the county, most of his returners are on defense.
The defense limited Kearny's high-powered offense to only 132 yards. Page, who threw for 280 yards in last week's 35-22 victory over Ramona, was held to 5-for-24 for 152 yards.
The reason? Page had linebackers Dennis Duren and Abdul McCullough and defensive tackle Bill Aviu in his face most of the night. Duren had three sacks, including one for a safety. Aviu had two sacks and applied pressure that caused Page to ground the ball in the end zone for a safety.
The constant pressure didn't allow Page time to set up, and when he had time, Scott was usually covered by cornerbacks Bryant Westbrook or Lamont Girton.
"Darnay Scott was great, so we did everything we could to make sure they couldn't the ball," Duren said.
Scott wasn't sure what happened.
"I ain't giving them no credit," Scott said. "They weren't nothing to me. I really don't know what went wrong. I don't think our line was blocking too good."
Meyer was much more complimentary of El Camino's defense.
"We played a great defensive game last week against La Jolla, and I said we've got to play that same type of game tonight," he said. "I didn't know if we were capable of playing at that level again. Obviously, we were."
El Camino's offense wasn't much better than Kearny's--totaling just 207 yards. But they provided just enough offense to give the defense some breathing room.
After El Camino led 8-0 at half on two Noel Prefontaine field goals and a safety, Aviu's 21-yard touchdown run put El Camino up 16-0. Kearny came back a play later on a 79-yard Page-to-James Curtis touchdown pass to cut the lead to 16-7.
But El Camino scored again to make it 24-7 on a Von Robinson three-yard run with 4:27 remaining. Robinson, who ran for 68 yards on 21 carries, also ran in the conversion.
It was hard to believe Kearny was just a Page-to-Scott bomb and a two-point conversion away from tying El Camino at half. Those looking for Scott to show his stuff probably came away wondering if he were on the field. The only time he touched the ball on offense, he fumbled after a jarring hit by Aviu. Girton recovered at the El Camino 15 with 3:05 remaining in the first quarter. It was the last time in the half that Kearny would venture into El Camino territory.
The first time Scott attempted to touch the ball was on the Komets first play from scrimmage on their own eight. Page's pitch to Scott on an end around was too far behind him, and Kearny's Curtis recovered the ball in the end zone for an El Camino safety.
The only two significant gains by Kearny came on dive plays to Ted Mack and Donnell Davis. Mack broke through a hole for 49 yards in the first quarter, but Scott fumbled two plays later. Curtis broke one for 18 yards in the second quarter.