Fri, Nov 30 2012 02:48 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
Eastlake High School head football coach John McFadden issued one short but telling proclamation following the Titans’ 59-37 semifinal victory against the visiting Grossmont Foothillers last Friday: “We’re going to the E!”
The “E” as in Escondido High School.
It will be there on Friday that second-seeded Eastlake will battle top-seeded Mission Hills for the Division I championship title. Kick-off is set for 7:35 p.m.
The Titans will be seeking their second CIF title in school history after last making a successful trip to the division finals in 2009.
Eastlake is 9-3 this season; Mission Hills is 10-2.
The Avocado East League champion Grizzles, who have won seven games in a row, topped fourth-seeded San Pasqual, 42-17, last Friday to advance.
Last Friday’s win was the third straight for the Titans.
“The first time we went, it was almost predicted that we would go,” McFadden said in reference to his team’s trip to Qualcomm Stadium in 2009.
“This team has been up and down but we’ve definitely played our best football the last three or four weeks. The kids never stopped believing in themselves. It means more this time around because while we’ve had people around the county lose faith in us, our kids didn’t.”
Eastlake’s players currently have a lot of confidence on both sides of the football. That was evident last Friday as the hosts bolted out to a 21-0 lead against section passing leader Anthony Lawrence and the high scoring Foothiller offense.
Aaron Baltazar, who is bound to play for Boise State next fall, rushed 22 times for 275 yards and scored four touchdowns to lead the offensive surge against Grossmont (9-3). He scored on runs of 39, 6, 76 and 5 yards to hike his season total to 1,713 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns.
Tavarus Green gained 88 yards on 17 carries and scored twice on runs of one and six yards in the opening half. He now has rushed for 530 yards this season.
Both Baltazar and Green said the experience of ending their seasons the last two years in the semifinals with disappointing results was motivation for the team to not let the season end prematurely this year.
Baltazar denied the pass-happy Foothillers with an interception on the third play of the game and followed with four first-half touchdowns to set the tone in the high stakes match-up.
“This year I was healthy,” Baltazar said. “I wanted to bring this through for my team. It’s a team victory.
“A lot of the seniors were at the CIF finals as freshmen. We wanted that feeling again but we wanted to create our own legacy.”
“We had to go out and execute,” Green said flatly. “We didn’t want to have any regrets.
“I felt like our offense was in high gear and our defense was stopping them. I felt we had the upper hand all the game.”
The Titans’ 42-14 halftime lead proved that. In fact, a running clock was used for a time in the second half as the score ballooned to a 30-point margin at 59-29.
Grossmont scored two late touchdowns to make the final score respectable, including a TD catch with just three seconds left on the clock.
Otherwise, the EHS running game dominated with 429 yards. Quarterback Ty Stevens tacked on 77 passing yards as the Titans accumulated 506 yards in total offense.
Grossmont’s Lawrence completed 30 of 47 passes for 273 yards and four touchdowns (two in the first half). But he was intercepted twice.
Christian Brooks led Foothiller receivers with eight catches for 76 yards while Jeff Bowers had four receptions for 61 yards, Brett Stone caught six passes for 54 yards and J.T. Barnes had five catches for 48 yards.
Bowers caught two touchdown passes while Stone and Barnes each had one TD catch.
Marlon Lampert rushed 16 times for 162 yards, ripping off one 67-yard run.
Many thought that Lawrence, who entered the game with more than 3,000 passing yards and 32 touchdowns, would be unstoppable.
But that was not the case.
Baltazar and Keifer Graham each had picks while Blake Wilson registered one sack and Isaiah Strayhorn and Graham both were credited with quarterback hurries.
A total of 21 EHS players were credited with tackles in the game, led by Graham with 12 (nine solo stops) and Nasser Ali with eight (seven unassisted).
So successful were the Titans at running the ball that Vince Paniligan punted just once in the game.
Strayhorn, Isiah Olave and Jalen Mondane combined to rush for 59 yards in support of Baltazar and Green.
Baltazar had one catch for 33 yards while Joseph Carpizo had two catches for 34 yards.
Stevens also scored on a seven-yard run in the second quarter.
Junsik Yoon was credited with a 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
The stakes obviously get higher in Friday’s division final, and so does the opponent.
Like Eastlake, Mission Hills was making its seventh consecutive trip to the semifinals and the Grizzlies, enjoying the home field advantage for the first time, racked up a 28-10 first half edge on the Golden Eagles (7-5) in a contest played in dense fog.
San Pasqual closed to within 28-17 in the second half, when the fog was particularly problematic, but Mission Hills closed out the victory with touchdowns by Anthony Bautista and Andrew Donaldson.
The Grizzlies bill themselves has possessing the fastest defense in the county and have vowed to come up with a game plan to stop Baltazar in his tracks.
The EHS standout runner will have something to say about that, of course.
Baltazar held up his hand after last Friday’s game. “The next time you see this, it will be covered with bling,” he said with a smile.
“We’ve got to keep playing like we have,” McFadden said. “It’s going to be a war.”
© 2009 The Star-News