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JOSHUA SUDOCK , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Centennial of Corona's Sammonte Bonner scores a touchdown despite Malone Mataele's best defensive efforts for Orange Lutheran during the third quarter of Friday night's CIF-SS Pac-5 Division playoffs at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.

Orange Lutheran pushed out of playoffs by Centennial

STAFF WRITER

COSTA MESA – There is no blueprint to beating Centennial of Corona. There’s no instruction manual, no help line, and opposing teams can’t adjust sliders or lower the game’s difficulty setting before kickoff.

How well these Huskies are playing right now, heck, not even a cheat code would help much.

Brilliance can only be combated by brilliance, and though Orange Lutheran tried its best to play flawlessly Friday night, it fell to the top-seeded Pac-5 Division monolith, 49-27, at Orange Coast College.

“They’re really good, and so explosive,” Lancers coach Chuck Petersen said. “It’s a pick-your-poison type of deal with them. You try to take away the run, and they pass. You try to take away the pass, and they run. And even when you have numbers, (Huskies running back) JJ (Taylor) makes you miss.”

Centennial (12-0) scored on four of its first five possessions.

Taylor rushed for most of his 137 yards early, and scored on runs of 9, 49 and 1 yard in the first half. “Everything we’re practicing is clicking,” he said. “We’re nowhere near perfect, but that’s the goal, and we’re trying to get there.”

Centennial ran the same option play dozens of times, each snap presenting quarterback Anthony Catalano with myriad choices.

Catalano handed off to Taylor plenty, but when he chose to drop back to pass, he had receivers open. Catalano completed 10 of 11 passes in the first half and hit Cameron Jackson for a 25-yard score just before halftime.

“That’s my twin right there,” Taylor said of his backfield-mate, whose number he had printed on his undershirt.

The Huskies led, 28-7, at the break, then scored 21 points in the third quarter.

“Credit these kids” for finding ways to get better every week, Centennial coach Matt Logan said. “They understand the work that goes into getting better.”

Orange Lutheran (6-6) played well for stretches. The Lancers tied the score at 7 on Lj Northington’s quarterback sneak, but fell behind on the ensuing possession and failed to cash in on long drives. They trailed 49-7 in the second half, but did not stop competing.

Orange Lutheran receiver Austin Liles scored on the first play of the fourth quarter, and with Centennial’s backups in the game, the Lancers recovered two fumbles their offense later turned into touchdowns.

Dominik Austin scored on a 12-yard reception, and Joey Cilani made a spectacular one-handed catch in the end zone as time expired. Northington finished 14 of 27 for 180 yards and three TDs.

“We’re not going to ever give up,” Peterson said. “That’s what we’re going to take away from this year. The adversity we faced, our schedule, these guys came back every Monday ready to work. And we got their best every Friday night.

“I think we ended this season the way we wanted to remember this team.”

Contact the writer: bwhitehead@ocregister.com


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