ANAHEIM >> The game of the year lived up to the hype, as Corona Centennial and St. John Bosco’s CIF-SS Pac-5 Division championship game saw records shatter before more than 13,000 fans at Angel Stadium. In a game matching the nation’s top two offenses, it was the Huskies who won 62-52 to claim a second consecutive championship.
Stud running back JJ Taylor put on an all-time performance for the Huskies, with 41 carries for 271 yards and five touchdowns, plus over 100 yards as a kick returner. The 114 total points is the most ever scored in a championship game in the CIF-SS’ top division, and the 86 points scored in the first half was the most ever scored in a half of a CIF-SS game.
Corona Centennial, despite being the undefeated reigning CIF-SS champion, came into the game as an underdog in every national ranking. The Braves’ dominant performance all year put them in the driver’s seat for a national championship and made them the favorites to avenge last year’s loss in the championship to the Huskies.
“Our kids don’t care who we play,” said Huskies coach Matt Logan. “We don’t pay attention to rankings, the only one that matters is the one at the end of the year. I’m glad we could come out and get it done.”
Corona Centennial scored on all but one of its first-half drives, as quarterback Anthony Catalano started the game 10-for-13 for 220 yards and three scores. Taylor gashed a talented Bosco defense for 220 first-half yards, as the Huskies scored 55 points in the first half.
By comparison, the Bosco defense had only allowed 55 points in the first half of its first 13 games combined.
Meanwhile, things couldn’t have gone worse for the Braves’ offense, which saw quarterback Quentin Davis exit in the first quarter with an injury. It was a sad end to what ended up being Davis’ only bad game of the year. He was baited into a pair of interceptions early, which doubled his total on the year.
“We just couldn’t catch our breath in that first half,” said Braves coach Jason Negro. “The injury to Quentin was an emotional time, he’s one of our leaders. We didn’t recover from that well.”
Washington commit Sean McGrew had 123 yards and a touchdown to help boost the Braves’ offense, but the Huskies led 55-31 at halftime.
The Bosco defense forced four straight punts or turnovers on downs by the Huskies to start the second half, and with a 65-yard touchdown run by backup Bosco QB Re-Al Mitchell, the Braves cut the Huskies’ lead to 55-38. But the Braves’ offense, missing its director in Davis, couldn’t muster enough points to pull back in the game, and Taylor’s fourth touchdown run for the Huskies effectively sealed it late in the third quarter.
McGrew finished with close to 196 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Aside from Taylor, receiver Javon McKinley was stellar for the Huskies, finishing with 132 yards receiving and a touchdown.
It was emotional for Taylor, who was sidelined last year with an injury and missed the championship against Bosco.
“This is so special, I’ve been playing football with these guys since I was five years old,” said Taylor. “All I wanted all year was a chance to play Bosco in the championship.”
The game was indicative of Logan’s aggressive style of coaching, as he put pressure on the Braves’ defense all night. On the first series of the game, his Huskies faced a 4th and 2 on their own 28-yard line, and Logan elected to go for it. Centennial converted, and went on to score on that drive.
“You get four downs to get 10, and you oughta be able to get it if you’re any kind of offense,” he said. “We wanted to be aggressive–we were coaching to win tonight, not trying to avoid losing.”
Corona Centennial (14-0) will get a week off before traveling to Sacramento State to play a highly-ranked De La Salle team for the CIF State championship on Dec. 19.