The Southwestern College Jaguars will finish a record-breaking season this Saturday at Olympian High School when they host the likewise 9-1 Santa Monica College Corsairs in the American Division Championship bowl game.
Kick-off is 6 p.m. at Olympian High School.
“One of the hardest things to do in any sport, but specifically football, is to continue to improve each week,” SWC coach Ed Carberry said. “Practice and drill become routine and we all have to come to practice not only with a goal for the team but also for each individual player to achieve.
“This year’s team and staff have done a great job of getting better.”
This is the first time the Jags have reached the nine-win mark since Mike Pompa’s 2000 team.
Saturday’s American Division championship game pits the champions from the division’s two conferences.
Southwestern captured the Mountain Conference title with an unblemished 7-0 record; Santa Monica won the Pacific Conference title also with a 7-0 record.
Carberry said traveling to Chaffey College on a two-and-a-half hour bus ride to play a game in howling wind and temperatures in the 40s tested his team’s desire to win the championship outright.
“Traditionally Chaffey is a tough team to beat, especially at home,” Carberry said. “This year the Panthers were no match for (our bowl-bound team).”
Southwestern took a 38-19 halftime lead and never looked back as the Jags cruised to a 55-25 victory.
The Jaguars’ record-setting offense continued to rack up points and yards. SWC finished the season No. 1 in the state in total offense and points per game.
The Jags enter Saturday’s bowl game averaging 45.3 points per game and 559 offensive yards per game.
Sophomore quarterback Brett Nelson (St. Francis/Pasadena) once again led the way with 287 passing yards and three touchdowns. He now has 22 passing TDs on the season.
Sophomore Vernon Johnson (Brewer/Ft. Worth) established a new school single-season receiving record with 15 touchdowns. He had four catches for 65 yards against Chaffey and has 1,082 receiving yards this season.
Freshman Bryant Mitchell (Mt. Miguel) had 153 yards on six catches. He opened the game with a 71-yard scoring play from Nelson as the visitors took a 7-0 lead with just 22 elapsed in the game.
Mitchell has 911 receiving yards and eight touchdowns this season.
Nelson threw scoring passes to Mitchell, Johnson and Myles Paul (Castle Park).
Charles Westbrook (Pt. Loma) rushed for 114 yards and scored one touchdown. The visitors also received a five-yard rushing touchdown from Tyler Anderson (Silverado). Nelson also scored on a one-yard run.
Jovan Gonzales (Olympian) kicked two field goals (28 and 30 yards) while Daniel Castro (Sweetwater) returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown.
Carberry said sophomore Nick Fehoko (Chula Vista) continued his “dominant play” on the team’s offensive line.
The Jags’ defense once again left its mark. Sophomore cornerback Rashad Greene (Warner Christian) intercepted his third pass since moving from the slot wide receiver position to defensive back, as did freshman receiver-turned-cornerback Marcus Harris (Birmingham/Van Nuys).
Freshman linebacker/strong safety Jeremy Burgos (Notre Dame/Chicago) led all tacklers with six total tackles.
Carberry noted that freshman Sean Fuimaono (Bonita Vista) “dominated the inside from tackle to tackle.”
“Our defense shut down the Chaffey running game and forced them to throw the football, which was not their strength,” Carberry said.
Two big plays on special teams included a fourth-down fake punt on the opening drive of the second half by sophomore punter Nate Drum (Bonita Vista). Drum took the snap and ran right up the middle following “personal protector” Jamil Raymore (East Bay) for a key first down.
Sophomore Donte Haddock (Eastlake), meanwhile, turned in the team’s fourth blocked kick in its last four games when he blocked a PAT attempt.
Haddock and Castro were two of four Jags defenders to make interceptions in the game, with picks also going to Larry Denson (Coronado) and Harris.
Santa Monica is coming off a 24-21 win at Antelope Valley (5-2, 7-3).
Quarterback Alfonso Medina passed for 288 yards and three touchdowns — one each to Reggie Mitchell (five catches, 131 yards), Ralph Gordon II (five catches, 123 yards) and Carzell Vickers (one catch, seven yards).
The Corsairs accumulated 124 net rushing yards, led by Myles Johnson with 83 yards on 27 attempts.
Jose Esquivel rounded out the Santa Monica scoring with a 34-yard field goal.
TALE OF THE TAPE: AMERICAN DIVISION BOWL
Southwestern Jaguars (9-1) vs. Santa Monica Corsairs (9-1)
Saturday, Nov. 17, at Olympian High School, 6 p.m. kickoff
The Jaguars are averaging 359.7 passing yards per game and 199.3 rushing yards per game.
Brett Nelson has passed for 2,581 yards with 22 touchdowns and nine picks.
Vernon Johnson has 49 catches for 1,082 yards and a school-record 15 touchdowns while Bryant Mitchell has 53 catches for 911 yards and eight TDs.
Charles Westbrook has come on in the second half of the season to lead the Jaguars with 573 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Pat Mitchell has rushed for 349 yards and scored five TDs.
Defensively, Jeremy Burgos leads SWC with 75 tackles. Denson, Haddock and Harris each have three interceptions to their credit this season while Jalal Yousufzai (Washington/Phoenix) leads the team with 6.5 sacks.
Santa Monica leaders
The Corsairs are averaging 248.6 passing yards per game and 159.0 rushing yards per game.
Alfonso Medina has passed for 2,382 yards and 28 touchdowns with six interceptions.
Ralph Gordon II has 34 catches for 756 yards and 10 scores while Reggie Mitchell has 36 catches for 648 yards and seven TDs.
Myles Johnson has rushed for 1,017 yards and nine touchdowns.
Qujuan Floyd leads Santa Monica with seven interceptions.
Pacific Division Standings
•Southwestern 7-0, 9-1
•Mt. San Jacinto 6-1, 9-1
•San Bernardino 5-2, 6-4
•San Diego Mesa 4-3, 5-5
•East Los Angeles 3-4, 6-4
•Chaffey 2-5, 2-8
•Victor Valley 1-6, 2-8
•El Camino-Compton 0-7, 0-10
•Santa Monica 7-0, 9-1
•L.A. Pierce 6-1, 8-2
•Antelope Valley 5-2, 7-3
•West Los Angeles 4-3, 5-5
•Santa Barbara 3-4, 4-6
•L.A. Valley 2-5, 2-8
•L.A. Southwest 1-6, 2-8
•Glendale 0-7, 2-8