It was a long time coming, but thanks to a six-touchdown performance from Tyler Baty, the Mission Prep football team has advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Northeast Division championship with a 54-26 victory over visiting Salesian on Friday night.
Baty finished with 186 yards and five touchdowns through the air, three to Joey Hall, on 8 of 15 passing, and 12 yards on five carries and touchdown on the ground for the Royals (11-1).
Hall finished with four catches for 101 yards and three scores.
“We’re on the same page,” Baty said. “We connect and it really gets the momentum going.”
Baty connected with his fellow senior on throws of 34, 38 and 24 yards for touchdowns, all in the second quarter, the last of which came with three seconds remaining in the first half to give Mission Prep a 36-12 lead at the break.
“That was a huge momentum, shift right there,” Royals head coach Chad Henry said. “You have an opportunity with a short field to say ‘Hey, let’s get one more score before the half,’ especially when you know they are going to get the ball coming out of the half. That was a huge momentum shift right there.”
With the win, the Royals will travel to Rio Hondo on Friday for the second time this season for a shot at the title. Mission Prep defeated the Kares 47-14 on Aug. 31.
“Its going to be tough to beat them twice,” Baty said. “We have our work cut out for us.
“I think we match up well against them and we’re just going to go out there and play our hearts out. It’s been an unbelievable season, and to be where we’re at right now, it’s really unreal.”
Patrick Laird continued his hot streak by scoring three second-half touchdowns, one on a 16-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter and on runs of 43 and 59 yards in the fourth quarter to put the game away for the Royals.
Laird finished with 12 carries for 198 yards and two touchdowns and two catches for 35 yards and another touchdown for Mission Prep.
“Whatever they threw at us we had an answer for tonight,” Henry said. “When you’re able to make big plays and you’re able to run the ball and control the ball, we were able to do everything tonight, and that’s a great thing.”
Michael Cardwell had 12 carries for 38 yards, and Andrew DaRosa, the Royals’ starting nose tackle, had a 49-yard touchdown catch out of the backfield to score Mission Prep’s first touchdown of the game.
The Royals were able to shut down a high-scoring Mustangs offense that had put up 74 points in the opening round.
“Our secondary played very well today,” Henry said. “We’ve had some games where they’ve looked a little suspect. But we have four great athletes back there.
“Up front we did a great job getting pressure. They were under some kind of duress all night. We had a great game plan coming in, and our guys did an excellent job of believing in what we wanted to do this week and they executed.”
Trevor Fernandez and Calvin Levisay each had an interception, and DaRosa had two sacks for Mission Prep.
Now, with just one game left, a familiar foe stands between these Royals and their first Southern Section championship.
“Going into that last game, (Rio Hondo) didn’t know what to expect and we roughed ’em up pretty good,” Henry said. “So you can imagine they’ve been seething all year and waiting for us in that rematch.
“So to go down there and play them again, it’s going to be a different game,” he said. “This one’s going to be an all-out battle. They’ve been waiting for us. They’re going to want us bad and we’re going to have to bring an extra special effort to come away with a championship.”