West Hills Chaminade quarterback Brad Kaaya wrapped up his high school… (David McNew / Los Angeles…)
Even before he strode off the field at StubHub Center after his team's 41-9 rout of Redding Enterprise in Saturday's CIF state Division II championship bowl game, West Hills Chaminade quarterback Brad Kaaya realized he'll soon begin a new chapter in his career. However, that didn't prevent him from taking a few moments to savor the victory — his last in an Eagles' uniform.
"I'm so proud of this team because we gave it everything we had," Kaaya said after throwing for 276 yards and two touchdowns. "We've played through so many injuries. At this point, no one's 100%, and you have to play through whatever pain you have."
Kaaya will be back at the same stadium Jan. 5 to play in the third Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, a national all-star game featuring many of the top prep players in the nation.
"I'm looking forward to that," said Kaaya, who was sporting the orange Nike cleats he wore for the Western Division final two weeks ago when the Eagles upset Gardena Serra. "I'm sure having already played here once will help me."
After that, Kaaya's focus shifts to the University of Miami, where he reports in June.
"I'll be working out everyday to get ready," Kaaya said. "The big difference is the physical part — everyone's bigger, faster and stronger, but I'm excited about it. Miami gave me an early offer, and as far as the school part they've got everything I'm interested in. I'm thinking about majoring in sports medicine or business, but I'm not really sure yet."
Kaaya had a season to remember, throwing for 3,853 yards and 27 touchdowns. Asked to assess how good his senior signal-caller is, Chaminade Coach Ed Croson was succinct in his praise: "He's the best quarterback in the state."
26 wins and counting
After a 16-0 season that culminated in a CIF state bowl championship, the question for Newport Beach Corona del Mar heading into the 2014 season is how much further the Sea Kings can extend their school-record winning streak, which is now at 26 games and counting. Parker Chase, who led the team with 16 sacks, is one of 10 starters returning on a defense that posted four shutouts and held half of its opponents to single digits.
"I think we have six returners back from last year, so having 10 guys coming back next year will be big," said junior free safety Barrett Barbato, who made 10 tackles and returned an interception 58 yards for a touchdown in Saturday's 27-15 victory over Atherton Sacred Heart Prep. "We have a lot of confidence that we can stop the run and key on the other team's top guy."
Replacing a legend like Harry Welch is no easy assignment, but if experience counts for anything, Rick Curtis is the man for the job. He has been hired as the head football coach at Santa Margarita after a 13-year stint as coach and athletic director at Irvine Northwood, and the Mission Viejo graduate brings with him 36 years of high school experience. He has coached at Anaheim Servite, Irvine University, Laguna Hills and Irvine, where he was the defensive coordinator for three consecutive CIF championship teams from 1991-93.
Welch retired this fall after completing his fourth season at Santa Margarita and his 25th season as a high school head coach. He is the only coach in California history to guide three different schools (Canyon Country Canyon, San Juan Capistrano St. Margaret's and Santa Margarita) to CIF state championship bowl victories.
The total attendance for Friday's first two games of this year's CIF state bowl championships at StubHub Center in Carson was 5,923. Meanwhile, 54,347 fans packed AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for Saturday's Texas 5A-I final between Allen and Pearland, setting a state championship record for attendance.