Few in Southern California likely envisioned the kind of score the Arroyo Grande High football team won by Saturday.
The Eagles’ 52-19 thrashing of Chaminade Prep of West Hills in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Western Division playoffs put Arroyo Grande in its first divisional championship game since 2000. Arroyo Grande, looking for its first divisional title since 1998, will travel to take on Junipero Serra High in Gardena at 7 p.m. Friday for the championship.
Arroyo Grande (11-2) came into the playoffs as a wild card after finishing third in the PAC 7. Third-seeded Chaminade (11-2), meanwhile, ranked No. 27 in the state by CalPreps. com, suffered its only other loss of the season to top-seeded Serra (13-0), its Mission League rival, 35-21. Many were penciling in a title-game rematch between those two.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Arroyo Grande running back Christian Crichton said of Chaminade. “We thought it was going to be hard-fought and close to the end.”
What made the 33-point margin of victory all the more remarkable was the fact that Arroyo Grande trailed 9-0 after the first quarter.
“Even though it was 52-19, we still had a lot of mistakes and we need to fix those,” defensive back Garrett Coleman said.
The tide began to turn when Chaminade tried a fake punt with Boise State-bound kicker Matt Goudis. Goudis had successfully pulled off a 3-yard run on a fake field goal during Chaminade’s 37-19 quarterfinal win over Atascadero, opening the door in what had been a 21-19 game late in the third.
This time, though, Chaminade wasn’t so fortunate. Goudis was stuffed inside his own 30-yard line. Arroyo Grande took over with a short field and promptly proceeded to get into the end zone to cut the lead to 9-7.
Chaminade did take a 16-14 lead into the half, but Arroyo Grande quarterback Brent Vanderveen burst up the middle of the field on the first play from scrimmage in the second half for an 80-yard touchdown run.
Garrett Owens booted a 30-yard field goal for Arroyo Grande about seven minutes later, and then Coleman came up with an interception on the ensuing Chaminade drive.
That’s when things really began to snowball, as Arroyo Grande capitalized, going up 31-16 and forcing run-heavy Chaminade out of its comfort zone.
Quarterback Logan Scott came into the semifinals having never attempted more than 21 passes in a game all year but was up to 23 by the end of the third quarter. An ensuing quarterback change did Chaminade little good, as Arroyo Grande finished the night with six sacks and four interceptions.
“Our defense in the first quarter made some huge plays that kept them off the board when we were struggling offensively,” Arroyo Grande coach Tom Goossen said. “They gave us a chance to get on our feet.
“Our defense hounded the quarterback. I think at times he had to rush his throws, and therefore we were able to get some interceptions.”
Aaron Ley had three of the sacks, while Henry Adelman, James King and Brady Muth all had one each.
Coleman, a 6-foot-2 standout high jumper and an all-league selection as a junior, finished with two interceptions. Seth Jacobs and Derek Johnson added one apiece.
Jacobs, a junior who has been starring at safety at the varsity level since his freshman year, also made a game-best 14 tackles.
To put it mildly, the Eagles have a tough opponent in the title game, particularly when it comes to defending the pass.
Serra, a defending state bowl champion, won its 28th straight overall game in the semifinals by topping outright PAC 7 champion Paso Robles 41-23.
In that game, Cavaliers quarterback Conner Preston, who has committed to SMU, was 19-of-24 passing for 323 yards and five TDs.