Fri, Nov 25 2011 04:15 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The Mar Vista Mariners have something few Metro Conference teams have been able to compile in one season: a 10-victory campaign. At 10-1 on the season, the 2011 Mariners have certainly earned a shining place in school history.
But can the seventh-seeded Mariners crack the armor worn by the second-seeded St. Augustine Saints in Friday’s Division III quarterfinal playoff game at Mesa College?
St. Augustine is 9-1 and the odds-on favorite to meet parochial school rival Cathedral Catholic (also 9-1) in the Division III title game. The Saints would like nothing better than to avenge their 17-3 loss to the Dons in the teams' annual Holy Bowl match-up on Nov. 11.
Keeping the ball out of the hands of St. Augustine quarterback Joe Kennedy will be key to any success generated by the two-time defending Metro-South Bay League champions.
Kennedy has thrown for 1,890 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2011.
The Mariners relied on their strength, plus a couple of twists, to defeat the 10th-seeded Montgomery Aztecs, 19-7, in last Friday’s first round playoff match-up.
Mar Vista rushed the ball 47 times for 303 yards. However, the Mariners’ vaunted ground game did not produce any touchdowns.
Instead, the hosts used a safety, field goal, fumble recovery in the end zone and uncharacteristic 66-yard pass from quarterback Jordan Lertique to Ricardo Moriel to defuse potential disaster after the Aztecs (5-6) had trimmed the hosts’ lead to 12-7.
Mar Vista is averaging a prodigious 381 rushing yards per game and rarely passes. Lertique attempted just two passes in last Friday’s contest, hitting one for pay dirt.
On the season, the MVHS QB has completed just three passes in 11 attempts. Amazingly, two have gone for touchdowns.
Mariners coach Brian Hay said Lertique’s TD pass was not designed but improvised when Lertique saw Moriel wide open down field.
In this case, it was a matter of going with the flow — something Hay’s team has been experts at so far this season.
Mar Vista and Montgomery met in non-league play a month ago, with the Mariners recording a hard-fought 13-0 victory.
Mar Vista led 12-0 at halftime in the playoff rematch. The hosts recorded a two-point safety courtesy of Lashon Riggins in the first quarter and tacked on three more points on a 33-yard field goal by Moriel in the second quarter.
The Aztecs (5-6) trimmed the Mariner lead to five points on a fourth quarter touchdown catch by Robert Smith and threatened again before Jr. Rodriguez sacked the Montgomery signal-caller on a fourth-down play outside the MV five-yard line.
Keevin Moore led the Mariners against the Aztecs with 155 rushing yards on 20 carries while Jimmie Hill rushed 16 times for 101 yards.
Hill leads Mar Vista with 1,321 rushing yards while Moore has 917 yards. Lertique leads the team with eight touchdowns, followed by Hill with seven, Moore with six, Kenny Nieves with four and Bennie Smith with three.
The MVHS defense has 29 sacks — 15 by Riggins.
St. Augustine will inarguably be Mar Vista’s toughest opponent this season. The Saints are averaging 33 points per game. Star receiver Nicholas Gonsalves has 45 catches for 973 yards and scored 11 touchdowns this season while star rusher Aaron Anderson has gained 1,197 yards and scored nine TDs.
However, Cathedral Catholic grounded St. Augustine’s potent passing game in a 17-3 Eastern League victory on Nov. 11 to capture this year’s Holy Bowl. Kennedy was intercepted five times in the loss.
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