Fri, Dec 07 2012 01:17 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The Francis Parker Lancers were party to two of the most remarkable games of the 2012 San Diego Section football playoffs. Only the Lancers, and their complement of seven South County players, were not celebrating after last Friday’s 31-15 Division V championship game loss to the top-seeded Santa Fe Christian Eagles.
First things first, however.
Francis Parker hosted the defending Division V champion Christian Patriots in a semifinal game on Nov. 23 in a contest played in dense fog. The teams battled to a 14-14 deadlock in regulation, necessitating overtime.
In fact, two overtime periods.
The second-seeded Lancers pulled out a 27-24 victory on two OT touchdown passes by senior quarterback Gabe Harrington to senior receiver Hank Childs, who literally and figuratively pulled balls out of a soupy froth.
“Any balls that went into the air you couldn’t see them,” junior lineman Michael Winslow noted.
But Harrington, an Eastlake resident, managed to deliver both passes with pin-point accuracy to their target.
It might not have been a heaven-sent miracle, but it amounted to a victory over the third-seeded Patriots and a trip to the championship game.
“It was amazing to win that game,” Harrington said. “That will be one of my best memories from high school.”
Harrington completed 11 of 21 passing attempts for 150 yards and four touchdowns in the fog.
Last Friday’s title game at Escondido High School might have been played under even more trying circumstances: a steady rain.
“It was hard to grip the ball,” Harrington said.
Santa Fe Christian took advantage of a blocked punt and scored twice more to take a decisive 21-7 first quarter lead en route to a 16-point victory.
The CIF championship title was the first for the Eagles (10-3) since 2006; Parker finished 8-5.
The game was tied 7-7 early on when Harrington countered a three-yard rushing touchdown by SFC senior quarterback Hunter Vaccaro by completing a 29-yard scoring pass to Childs.
But the Eagles added two more scores — a five-yard run by Vaccaro and a three-yard run by Conor Keith – to break the tie.
SFC would tack on the first 10 points of the second half to boost its lead to 31-7 on a 35-yard scoring run by Vaccaro and a 28-yard field goal by Jake Bailey.
The rain continued to pelt the field, though the Lancers failed to capitulate. A trick play on a triple option saw Harrington hit a receiver long down field to set up a six-yard touchdown run by fellow South County resident Jesse Brookins.
Harrington hit Childs for a two-point conversion to narrow the score to 31-15.
Parker appeared to be driving for a second score later in the quarter before finally turning the ball over on downs.
“Both teams scored a touchdown to start the game but the blocked punt hurt,” Parker coach John Morrison assessed. “I’m proud of every one of our players. I loved their effort. We played them more even in the second half.
“If we had managed to get that second touchdown (in the fourth quarter) to make it a one score game, it would have been fun to see how it finished.”
The Eagles controlled the ground game with 322 rushing yards, including 110 by Keith and 87 by Vaccaro. Defensively, Bailey had one interception and one fumble recovery while Jerry Harper was credited with a blocked punt.
Harrington entered the championship game with 1,922 passing yards and 22 touchdowns. He was credited with 209 passing yards in the title game after hitting 17 of 30 passing attempts.
Brookins, who rushed for 146 yards in the semifinal victory against Christian, entered the season finale with 1,242 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns. He was credited with 78 rushing yards in the championship game.
Other South County players on the Lancer roster this season included junior lineman Tanner Aiono, sophomore running back/defensive back Daven Horne, junior wide receiver/defensive back Ayman Mayberry, senior wide receiver/defensive back Antonio Mendez and senior wide receiver/linebacker Andres Gomez.
Horne entered the championship game with 285 rushing yards and five touchdowns while Mayberry had collected 249 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Mendez finished the season with three touchdowns, one interception, one fumble recovery and one sack while Gomez recorded one fumble recovery and one sack.
Childs, with more than 800 receiving yards on the season, led Parker in scoring with 11 touchdowns while also registering one interception and one fumble recovery on defense.
Harrington became noticeably emotional on the sideline during the final moments of the game and was consoled by several players and coaches.
“It’s hard,” Harrington said, “Even when you know it’s going to be your last game, when you put on that uniform, you realize it’s going to be the last time you are going to be with your teammates.”
In Saturday’s games, Oceanside topped Poway, 32-10, for the Division II title while Madison upset St. Augustine, 35-21, to win the Division IV crown and Lincoln pulverized Ramona, 42-14 for the Division III title.
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