The Mission Prep football team had lead in every game it had played in leading up to Friday, but that streak came to an end when they fell to Templeton 38-21 in a decisive Ocean League game.
The win marks the first outright league title for Templeton since 2005, back when current head coach Don Crow was in his first stint at the helm and the Eagles played in the East Sierra League. Templeton split a Northern League championship with Mission Prep and Nipomo in 2014.
The Royals played the Eagles as well as anyone has this season in the first half, trailing just 17-14 before Templeton scored 21 straight points in the third quarter. Mission Prep managed a late touchdown to make it 38-21 after running back Brian Kowall exited the game with an injury early in the fourth.
‘A learning experience’
Templeton (8-1) has dismantled everyone nearly everyone it has played this season by simply taking what the defense gives them. Quarterback Tyler Kaschewski had just one touchdown in Friday’s game. Instead, Michael Avery and Joshua Berna combined for the bulk of the carries and had two touchdowns apiece.
“I think it means a lot,” Crow said. “I think before the game (the players) were feeling it. I think they were a little tight. That’s a CIF championship team from last year. They have all played in league championships and CIF championships, and we have not. And it’s very much a learning experience.”
Templeton (8-1) has now won as many games this season as it had in the past three years combined — and there’s a chance for more. They will face Nipomo next week in a non-league game before heading into the Division 4 Central Section playoffs as almost assuredly one of the top seeds.
Their record rivals Central Valley powers Kennedy, Selma and Washington Union.
‘The kind of football we want to play’
The Royals are a championship team in their own right. Just last season, the Royals had an undefeated season that culminated in an 8-man Central Section championship title. This season, the Royals are competing in Central Section Division 6.
Many of those players from last season are gone, and the transition to 11-man has had its growing pains. But not because of the system, because of youth.
“It’s not been an 11-man, 8-man thing. It’s been a youth thing,” Mission Prep head coach David Schuster said. “We lost a lot of tremendous leadership from last year’s team, and we replaced them with a ton of really, really young kids who have just taken awhile to get adjusted.”
Only eight seniors make up this crop of players, and the experience which Mission Prep lost had to be replaced. One of those seniors, Kowall, was injured for the first two games. Kowall, who is approaching 1,000 yards rushing in seven games this year, had a touchdown in the first half.
“Right around the Oak Park week, just a terrible game, terrible performance. We kind of just stripped everything at that point and went back to the basics.” Schuster said.
It took until about midway through the season to make the adjustments , but the Royals have been trending upwards. They won three straight entering Friday’s game and four of the last five. The loss came to Central Valley Christian, one of the top teams in Division 3.
“There were a couple things that Templeton was doing that no one had really stopped and we really focused on trying to stop those things,” Schuster said. “We did a great job of it in the first half.
“Definitely, the first half is the kind of football we want to play.”
Mission Prep (4-5) will play at Campbell Hall of Hollywood. Templeton will play host to Nipomo (4-5, 2-1), which is coming off a 27-7 win over Atascadero on Friday to earn second place in the PAC 4 behind San Luis Obispo.
Other scores from SLO and northern Santa Barbara county teams
San Luis Obispo 37, Pioneer Valley 7
St. Joseph 21, Arroyo Grande 14
Santa Maria 41, Morro Bay 13
Nipomo 27, Atascadero 7
Righetti 28, Paso Robles 14
Coast Union 61, Valley Christian Academy 30
Orcutt Academy 69, Laton 16
Santa Barbara 53, Cabrillo 9
Lompoc 48, San Marcos 20
Dos Pueblos 33, Santa Ynez 14