Of the 20 first-round playoff games played last week, the lower-seeded team came away victorious five times. The Mar Vista Mariners made sure they were not one of the upset victims by putting together a strong second half to eliminate the visiting Clairemont Chieftains, 31-7, in a Division IV match-up.
The fifth-seeded Mariners advance to Friday’s quarterfinal game at fourth-seeded Valley Center, the defending division champion. Kick-off is 7 p.m.
MV coach Brian Hay selected junior safety Alejandro Akerlundh (overall), junior tackle Andrew Robinson (offensive) and senior defensive back Landon O’Connell (defensive) as players of the game in the win over the Chiefs.
O’Connell scored two touchdowns and contributed 18 tackles on defense, including eight solo stops.
The Imperial Beach team’s vaunted Beef Train otherwise led the way with 447 rushing yards.
Three-time defending Metro-South Bay League champion Mar Vista (8-3) built a tenuous 9-7 halftime lead on a two-point safety by Kevin Lopez and a 79-yard run by quarterback Landon Clark (eight carries, 123 yards). The Mariners then exploded for 22 third quarter points to secure the victory and extend their winning streak to seven games.
Jimmie Hill (seven carries, 109 yards) broke off an 81-yard run, followed by a 25-yard scoring run by O’Connell (five carries, 79 yards), who then closed out scoring on a one-yard run.
Johnny Hayes led the MV defense with 11 solo tackles and finished the game with 17 total tackles.
The Mariners, who advanced to last year’s Division III semifinals, enter Friday’s game averaging 408.3 rushing yards per game and 33.1 points per game.
Valley League champion Valley Center (6-4) enters the playoffs on a two-game losing streak after setbacks to San Pasqual (35-32) and Orange Glen (42-38).
Mt. Miguel 26, Mater Dei Catholic 14
In another first-round Division IV playoff game last Friday, Grossmont Valley League champion Mt. Miguel ended two-time Metro-Pacific League champion Mater Dei Catholic’s season with a comeback win.
Joseph Legerrette-Luke opened scoring with a 73-yard scoring pass to Damon Willis for an early 7-0 lead. But the Matadors (7-4)responded with 20 unanswered points before Legerrette-Luke hooked up again with Willis on a 17-yard touchdown pass to narrow the score to 20-14.
Mt. Miguel scored the only touchdown of the fourth quarter to secure the playoff win as Jacob Castillo, a sophomore substitute, passed 22 yards to Rashad Harper. Earl Bryers led the Matadors with two rushing touchdowns.
Legerrette-Luke finished the game with 190 passing yards. He ended the season with 1,599 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and also ran for 609 yards and 11 TDs. His main receiving target during the regular season, Iman Chatman-Dixon, was kept off the scoreboard. Chatman-Dixon had 886 receiving yards and eight TDs on the season. The Crusaders finished 8-3.