High School Sports

Mission Prep football team finds balance ahead of the playoffs

Mission Prep’s defense gangs up to tackle Morro Bay quarterback Isaac Manuputy in Friday night’s game.
Mission Prep’s defense gangs up to tackle Morro Bay quarterback Isaac Manuputy in Friday night’s game. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The Mission Prep football team clinched the Northern League title Friday night with a 54-19 win over Morro Bay.

The Royals finished with a 4-0 record in the Northern league, the first perfect season in the two-year history of the league, and are headed to the CIF-Southern Section Northwest Division playoffs.

The Royals relied on balance this season, evenly splitting the offense between passing and rushing. It was on display Friday night, when Brayden Corona had three touchdowns on the ground, and Bryce Fledderman threw for three more, finishing 8 of 11 for 135 yards. Corona scored on runs from 12, 45 and 29 yards. Fledderman threw passes to Patrick Miller, Michael LaCasto and Christian Harvey.

Coach Chad Henry said that combination of Fledderman and the receivers improving their play as the season has progressed makes it hard for teams to scheme against the Royals because of the balance. The result is that defenses have to choose to stop the run or stop the pass.

“That’s what we wanted to achieve coming into the season,” Henry said. “I think we’re there.”

The defense has been solid for Mission Prep this year too, allowing only three opponents over 20 points this season. The defense has been anchored by the pass-rushing tandem of Conrad Ochotorena and Jacob Wright, who each have eight sacks on the year. Entering Friday’s game, the two had a combined 31 tackles for a loss.

“They’re animals,” Henry said. “They beat us up in practice every day, it makes it tough. (Ochotorena and Wright) are two kids that work extremely hard, they’re ultra competitive, so when one gets a sack the other one is happy and pissed at the same time.

“They’re maybe not the two biggest guys but with their athleticism and their strength, and quickness and understanding what they want to do, it’s amazing. And then having two of them, it’s been great,” he said.

The sack total was a motivation entering Friday’s game, as Ochotorena trailed Wright by one.

“During the game, this week especially because it was our last regular season week, we definitely talked about it. It was on our minds, and so all week in practice we pushed each other,” Wright said.

“It was never negative; it was always to build each other up. “

The two can be seen lining up on the inside and outside of the line, even switching sides.

Wright credits nose tackle Jake Corgiat for helping open it up for the pass rushers.

“He’s always like ‘I’m in the trenches for you two,’ ” Wright said. “We always razz him and give him a hard time, but he definitely is helping us out a lot.”

An 8-2 record overall and 4-0 record in league is a stark contrast to the 2014 campaign, in which the Royals finished with a record of 4-7 and 1-3 in league play.

“We just continue to grow. I think we came in with a really solid attitude about how we wanted to approach this year and we had some good pieces,” Henry said, “But I think the commitment the guys had to each other and to staying the course, staying the path and just improving week to week (is what has changed).”

“I think if you take a look at last year, it was a lot different mentality,” Wright said. “Everyone was out for themselves. But this year when we’re coming together as a team and everyone can shine as an individual, because we’re coming together as a team.”