With a running game like Morro Bay High put on display in Friday night’s opening round of the CIF-Southern Section Northwest Division playoffs, who needs a passing attack?
Morro Bay quarterback Sam Crizer rushed 32 times for 184 yards with three touchdowns, Darek Mendoza had 17 carries for 147 yards with a score, and the Pirates dominated defensively, shutting out Mary Star of the Sea 28-0.
“You don’t need to throw the ball when you’re running the ball like this,” Crizer said.
As rare as it was to see a third down when Morro Bay was on offense, it was even rarer to see the Pirates facing a third-and-long situation.
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Crizer finished just 1-of-4 passing for 8 yards.
Mary Star, which traveled from San Pedro for the game, looked out of it from the start.
After a three-and-out on their first possession, the Stars looked helpless to stop Crizer and Mendoza, who combined for all 56 yards in a drive that put Morro Bay up 7-0.
Mendoza set the tone with an early run, bulldozing two Mary Star defenders and rumbling for a 32-yard run that set up Crizer’s first touchdown.
“He’s been banged up a lot this season and I think these last couple games he’s finally recovering,” Crizer said of Mendoza. “He’s running really hard. Dropping those two kids at once like he did, that was sweet.”
Mendoza and Crizer each sold fakes well, fooling Stars defensive linemen on several occasions. But the difference in their running styles was evident, as Mendoza bowled over Mary Star players with each bruising run.
“I’m a little bit more of a physical runner,” Mendoza said. “He’s a bit faster and when they’re keying on him, it just opens it up more for me. I don’t really mind them keying on him.”
While the offense was clicking on all cylinders, the defense wasn’t far behind.
Mary Star managed to muster just one first down and 58 yards of total offense in the first half.
Kevin Awad, the Stars’ leading rusher, finished the game with 57 yards on 19 carries while quarterback Cole Webb finished 2-of-5 passing for 10 yards before being lost to an injury just after halftime.
Jeremy Attencio, Webb’s replacement, was 0-for-1 passing with an interception.
The Pirates will play South of Torrance on the road next week. The Spartans (9-1), who won the Pioneer League, beat Santa Paula 41-10 in the opening round.
With several of the big-name teams leaving the Northwest Division, Crizer said he was optimistic the Pirates could make a deep run in this year’s playoffs.
Either way, Crizer said he was just happy to continue his high school playing career.
“When I walked out here against Templeton on senior night it was really emotional seeing that this could be the last time I walk out on this field,” he said.
“I’ve been up at varsity since sophomore year, and I didn’t want that to be it. I carry that same feeling with me for each game.”