The 2010 high school football season isn’t quite over yet for Chula Vista’s Joey Moreno, Kohl Simonds, Max Muller and Estevan Gomez. The quartet, along with the rest of their Bishop’s School Knights teammates, will play in the State Football Bowl Division IV championship game on Friday, Dec. 17, at the Home Depot Center in Carson.
The Knights (13-0) will face equally unbeaten Brookside Christian (12-0) from Stockton in the 4 p.m. contest.
Bishop’s qualified for the state bowl game after defeating Francis Parker, 20-9, in last Friday’s San Diego Section Division V championship game at Mesa College.
The Knights are one of two San Diego teams competing in this weekend’s series of bowl games in Carson. The reigning section Division IV champion Madison Warhawks (12-1) will play in the Division III state championship game at noon on Saturday, Dec. 18, against Escalon (13-1).
Moreno, a junior quarterback, is one of six team captains. Simonds, a junior lineman, attended Hilltop High School as a freshman. Muller is another junior lineman while Gomez is a senior lineman.
The elite core of four South Bay players are joined by three other teammates who hail from the southeastern region of the county: senior lineman Erick Hernandez (Logan Heights), sophomore wide receiver-running back Louie Rodrigues (Lemon Grove) and senior running back-linebacker Micah Seau (Spring Valley).
“To win the championship, we came out and practiced hard every week,” said Moreno, perhaps the team’s most visible South Bay player. “We got in condition. We worked hard in the weight room. We got everything done. The scout team did great in practice. We came out and got ’em good.”
The division title made amends for two consecutive runner-up finishes to the Lancers in the Division V championship game. The Knights lost, 51-22, to Parker during Moreno’s freshman year in the 2008 final at Southwestern College and fell, 55-20, last year in a game played at Qualcomm Stadium.
Listed at 5-5 (actually, 5-4, he said), Simonds is one of the team’s more inspirational players and emotional leaders. He was named to this year’s Second Team All-Coastal League defensive team.
“We just worked harder than every other team this year and smacked ’em in the mouth this year,” Simonds said.
“To win this season took a lot of hard work and perseverance and a lot of effort in the games,” Muller said.
“To win this game is all about support — making sure everyone is working in the weight room,” Gomez said. “It’s all about support and working together.”
For Seau, a 2010 First Team All-Coastal League defensive team pick, the division championship game appearance was his fourth in as many years on Bishop’s varsity team. The Knights won a division title his freshman year while finishing runner-up to Coastal League rival Francis Parker in both 2008 and 2009.
“It feels great —13-0,” said Seau, among the team’s cadre of captains. “It was a defensive game, definitely. We got some good stops and our offense put some points on the board.”
This year’s Division V championship game, obscured at times by heavy fog on the field, turned on big plays produced by the Knights, this year’s Coastal League champions.
Alec Fisher opened scoring on a nine-yard run in the first quarter as Bishop’s took a 7-0 lead. Parker cut into the Knights’ early lead on a 41-yard field goal by Matt Wile. But a trick play helped turn the momentum in the second quarter. On fourth-and-three, Moreno initiated a “hook-and-ladder” play with a short pass to fellow team captain Adam Malkiewicz, who then pitched the ball back to Fisher, who ran the remaining 38 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.
Parker drove deep into the Knights’ territory late in the second quarter but Bishop’s Dominique Love blocked a field goal attempt with seconds left before halftime to leave the top-seeded Knights in control with a 14-3 lead.
Fisher shot through the middle for a 52-yard breakaway touchdown on Bishop’s first possession of the second half to push the lead to 20-3.
Parker’s Kenny Brookins, a senior running back from Eastlake, trimmed the Knights’ lead to 20-9 on a seven-yard TD run later in the third quarter. Third-seeded Parker (6-7) appeared ready to make the score even closer midway through the fourth quarter but the Bishop’s defense came up huge on a goal-line stand, stopping quarterback Warren Brody on a fake field goal attempt on the half-yard line.
Brookins had the carry on the previous play, ending up being flipped upside down as he attempted to dive over the pile-up of players into the end zone.
He finished the game with 68 rushing yards on 24 carries to lead the Lancers.
Brian Levett, another South Bay player for Parker, caught four passes for 81 yards.
Moreno can pass the ball with the best in the county — he had two passing scores and also ran for a touchdown in his team’s 47-21 semifinal victory against fourth-seeded Christian and tossed three TD passes in a preceding 54-12 quarterfinal victory against Holtville. But the Knights’ offensive scheme in the championship game was to keep the ball on the ground, perhaps dictated by the inhospitable, at times, elements.
Moreno attempted just three passes in the game, completing one pass for 11 yards.
Fisher, the 2010 Coastal League Offensive Player of the Year, led all ball-carriers in the Division V title game with 161 rushing yards on 13 carries and three touchdowns. The Knights controlled the game with 335 rushing yards.
Fisher’s twin brother Austin gained 94 yards on 11 rushes.
The Bishop’s defense limited Parker to 132 rushing yards by comparison. The runner-up Lancers totaled more first downs in the game (20 to 11). The Parker passing attack generated 178 yards but faltered on several key third-down conversions.
“This is Bishop’s, our rival. Nothing was sweeter than beating them two times in a row to win CIF,” Brookins said. “In the semifinal game against Horizon (a 52-28 victory), the chemistry was there and we came out and played tough. The score wasn’t close.
“In this game, I’m not sure if it was overconfidence. I’m not sure if it was their scheme. But they stopped us. We definitely struggled running the ball. We couldn’t get too many passes out. We had a few big plays. I’m not sure what it was. It didn’t turn out our way. For the guys who are coming back next year, hopefully this will leave a bitter taste in their mouth, so they can go out and get their revenge.
“After what happened to Eastlake and Olympian (upset losses in the semifinals), we wanted to make it three in a row for the South Bay.”
San Diego Section
Dec. 6 at Qualcomm Stadium
(3) Vista 33, (4) Mira Mesa 21. Records: Vista 12-1; Mira Mesa 7-6
(4) Oceanside 47, (3) Mission Hills 10. Records: Oceanside 10-3; Mission Hills 10-3
(3) Cathedral Catholic 24, (5) Lincoln 7. Records: Cathedral Catholic 8-5, Lincoln 7-7
(3) Madison 40, (1) Valley Center 14. Records: Madison 12-1; Valley Center 12-1
Dec. 10 at Mesa College
(1) Bishop’s 20, (3) Francis Parker 9. Records: Bishop’s 13-0, Francis Parker 6-7
2010 Football Team
First team offense
Markel Byrd (Horizon Christian), 10; Alec Fisher (Bishop's), 12.; Tyrone Sauls (Christian), 12; Rochon Taylor (Francis Parker), 11; Adam Malkiewicz (Bishop's), 12; Kyle Harris (Christian), 11; Will Martin (Christian), 12; Greg Chisholm (Bishop's), 11; Ben Rangel (Francis Parker), 12; Miguel Villalpando (Horizon), 12; Ryan Gillett (Santa Fe Christian), 12; Matt Wile (Francis Parker), 12
First team defense
Jon Lee (Francis Parker), 12; Josh Harrison (Christian), 12; Connor Reuss (Horizon), 11; Micah Seau (Bishop's), 12.; Josh Estill (Santa Fe Christian), 11; Enrique Espinosa-Da Silva (Francis Parker), 12; Spencer Moran (Horizon), 12; J.J. Hall (Horizon), 12; Connor Moore (Santa Fe Christian), 11; Dominique Love (Bishop's), 11; Warren Brody (Francis Parker), 12
Second team offense
Shane Dillon (Christian), 11.; Austin Fisher (Bishop's), 12; Austin Knoth (Santa Fe Christian), 12; Anthony Robles (Horizon), 12; Roland Jackson (Francis Parker), 12; Darren Carrington (Horizon), 10; Jon McNeal (Christian), 12; Kevin Quigley (Bishop's), 12; Joe Rote (Francis Parker), 12; Eric Peverly (Horizon), 12; Dominic Burtech (Santa Fe Christian), 10
Second team defense
Kyle Gantz (Bishop's), 12; Matt Kirwan (Santa Fe Christian), 12; Ryan Moore (Santa Fe Christian), 12; Kohl Simonds (Bishop's), 11; Jake McKinney (Santa Fe Christian), 11; Nate McLaughlin (Horizon), 11; Garrett Hein (Christian), 12; Jarrod Watson-Lewis (Santa Fe Christian), 11; Robbie Stiefler (Bishop's), 12; Rayvon Owens (Christian), 10; Barrett Owens (Christian), 10; Barrett Floyd (Santa Fe Christian), 12
Players of the Year
Offensive: Alec Fisher (Bishop's)
Defensive: Jon Lee (Francis Parker)
Kicker of the Year
Matt Wile (Francis Parker)