Fri, Nov 25 2011 04:23 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The Eastlake Titans enter the San Diego Section playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the Division I field. Whether that seeding translates to an appearance in the division championship game Dec. 5 at Qualcomm Stadium will be tested in Friday’s quarterfinal round against the visiting San Diego Cavers.
The teams are meeting for the first time in school history to add an extra bit of interest to this year’s playoff pairings.
Eastlake is 7-3 after recording a runner-up finish in this year’s Metro-Mesa League standings while San Diego, which plays its home games at historic Balboa Stadium, also is 7-3 following a fourth-place finish in the City Central League standings.
EHS coach John McFadden said his team, which is still mending from an extraordinary number of injuries throughout the season, will need to play error-free football to advance to the next round.
“They’re (the Cavers) very athletic, have some big kids and are well coached — it will be a tough game,” McFadden admitted.
Of the 20 first round playoff games played last week, visiting teams captured six contests. The 10th-seeded Cavers were one of those road teams to post an upset win by defeating the seventh-seeded El Camino Wildcats 14-13.
Deshaun Scott (15 carries, 136 yards) and Travis Brock (eight carries, 76) yards each scored touchdowns for San Diego, which controlled the field with 338 rushing yards. Eric Judge, one of the team’s breakaway threats, had two carries for 105 yards, including one 95-yard jaunt.
The Cavers’ defense was the story of the game, however, with three interceptions, one sack and one fumble recovery.
The Titans enter Friday’s game after receiving a first round bye – and some much-needed added time to mend injuries. Star running back Jude Isbell and standout receiver Travis Gardner both remain out for the season.
Both are huge losses on offense and defense. But it helps to have the depth that goes with a 2,600-enrollment student body.
“We still have some guys out but we also have some guys playing, and playing well,” McFadden said. “I’m excited.”
Among the injured players making a return to the line-up is Aaron Baltazar, who McFadden said will suit up on defense.
Despite the string of injuries, Eastlake remains potent both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, as was demonstrated in a 26-7 victory at Otay Ranch to close out regular season play.
The Titans are averaging 263 rushing yards per game, 121 passing yards per game and 26.0 points per game.
Tavarus Green leads the team’s active running backs with 829 rushing yards and has scored nine touchdowns. Sophomore Isiah Olave has been a find this season with seven touchdowns, including six rushing scores.
Quarterback John Palet has passed for 1,194 yards and eight touchdowns. Darran Hall leads the team’s receivers with 16 catches for 324 yards. Joseph Carpizo has 12 catches for 251 yards and four touchdowns.
The EHS defense has registered 21 sacks this season, including seven by Blake Wilson, while also accumulating seven interceptions and eight fumble recoveries.
Olave leads the Titans with three picks while Nasser Ali has two fumble recoveries to his credit.
“We need to be fundamentally sound and execute, not turn the ball over and keep them from making the big play,” McFadden emphasized. “They have some big play guys.”
Poway (9-0-1) is seeded first in Division I and is hosting Chula Vista in the quarterfinals. The defending division champion Vista Panthers (5-5) are seeded third and hosting sixth-seeded Carlsbad (7-4) while the fourth-seeded San Pasqual Golden Eagles (7-2-1) are hosting 12th-seeded Grossmont (6-4-1) in other quarterfinal games.
Grossmont recovered from a 25-0 halftime deficit to shock fifth-seeded Mira Mesa, 33-25, at the wire last Friday.
Carlsbad defeated Granite Hills, 49-7, in another first round game.
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