The Eastlake Titans weren’t picked to win last year’s San Diego Section Division I championship game, nor were they picked to successfully defend their CIF title this year. But after 10 regular season games, the Titans are one of only four teams in the San Diego Section with spotless 10-0 records and are perched alone on top of the Division I playoff bracket.
Respect? Well, one might have to say the five-time defending Mesa League champions have finally earned it.
The perfect 10-0 season is the first in school history.
“We had a celebration on Monday to kind of put the regular season behind us and get ready for the post-season,” EHS coach John McFadden said. “But it’s great, darn it. I’m excited about it. The kids have found a way to get things done.”
The Titans wrapped up their second consecutive undefeated regular season with last Friday’s 51-7 victory at Mater Dei Catholic. Eastlake officially finished 4-0 in Metro-Mesa League play and extended its winning streak to 21 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the section.
The Titans have now gone undefeated in their last 23 games, including a pair of ties to kick off last season.
Eastlake led 34-0 after the first quarter and 48-0 at halftime against the Crusaders (0-4 in league play, 1-9 overall). Jude Isbell (six carries, 111 yards) scored two rushing touchdowns (four and 59 yards) while five players each scored one touchdown: Tavarus Green (82-yard run), Jordan Hines (24-yard pass reception), Chris Fletcher (63-yard run), Zach Bannon (one-yard run) and Jesse Lapid (23-yard return on a blocked punt). David Naranjo also kicked a 27-yard field goal.
Palet, who has taken over the signal-calling duties of late, completed seven of nine passing attempts for 136 yards. Fletcher had three catches for 65 yards while Hines caught two passes for 34 yards. Patrick Hardman had one catch for 25 yards while Travis Gardner had one catch for 12 yards.
As a team, the Titans rushed for 285 yards.
As the top seed in the division, Eastlake receives a bye to the quarterfinals on Nov. 26 and will play the winner of Friday’s first-round match-up between host El Camino (5-5) and Mesa League runner-up Otay Ranch (6-4).
El Camino’s upset victory last week over defending Division II champion Oceanside (7-3) likely swayed the playoff selection committee at the last minute to give the Wildcats a home game over the Mustangs.
El Camino is seeded eighth in the 12-team draw; Otay Ranch is seeded ninth.
Preseason darling Vista is seeded third in the division playoffs while Palomar League champion Torrey Pines is seeded second. Both North County superpowers sport impressive 9-1 records.
For once, however, the Titans have been picked to win it all. Conceivably, they just might deliver.
“If you look at the bracket, the No. 4 seed (Mira Mesa at 5-5) actually has the easier run through the bracket than we do,” McFadden said. “Of all the teams in the quarterfinals, we have the toughest draw. But we can’t concern ourselves about that. The bottom line is that if we play as well as we can, we can beat anybody. That’s all we want to focus on.”
Off to the races
Otay Ranch coach Anthony Lacsina feels his team might not have been the respect at this year’s seeding meeting that it was due but does like what he sees heading into the playoffs.
“I’m very happy with how this first season went,” said Lacsina, whose team is believed to have set a school record for most points scored in one game with last Friday’s 76-0 homecoming victory against visiting Chula Vista. “It took a few games to get our offense and defense implemented. I think we’re peaking at the right time.”
David Mondy rushed for 95 yards on 11 carries and scored three touchdowns to key the Mustangs past the Spartans (1-3 in league, 2-8 overall). Marcus Hernandez completed 14 of 17 passes for three touchdowns and Cody Springsguth fired another TD strike.
J’Vion Johnson (79 yards), Sean Licudine (21 yards), Chris Martin (five yards) and Fernando Murillo (23 yards) all caught scoring passes.
Otay Ranch, which led 21-0 after the first quarter and 56-0 at halftime, scored 11 touchdowns, including seven rushing TDs. Ernie Hicks drove in from 27 yards while Dustin Downs scored from two yards out and Andrew Jones and Andre Jones each scored on one-yard runs.
Hernandez has thrown for 1,388 yards this season with 15 touchdowns against just three interceptions.
John Dumaran, who had a 92-yard kick-off return fall just short of paydirt against Chula Vista, has five interceptions this season.