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Centennial repeats as Pac-5 champion
ANAHEIM Centennial of Corona maintained its grip of the CIF-SS Pac-5 Division with a dazzling display of offensive execution Saturday night against St. John Bosco at Angel Stadium.
Former JSerra running back JJ Taylor rushed 269 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Huskies past the Trinity League powerhouse, 62-52, for their straight Pac-5 crown.
Last season, Centennial defeated St. John Bosco, 48-41, in the final but the rematch delivered even more offensive fireworks in front of 13,599.
The duel of undefeated teams set a Southern Section record for most points in a half when Centennial opened a 55-31 lead at halftime.
The defenses fared much better in the second half but the Huskies (14-0) were off in running, carving a route that will likely place them in the state open bowl championship against De La Salle of Concord in two weeks. De La Salle won another section title Saturday night, defeating NorCal's Foothill, 35-0.
“It was special,” said Taylor, who played for the JSerra varsity as a freshman. “To see us play like this tonight and come out with the victory against a great team, they had a whole bunch of athletes … was very special.”
Taylor, an Arizona commit, helped fuel the first half explosion by rushing for four touchdowns for Huskies, who never trailed.
He missed last season’s Pac-5 final because his appendix was removed the day before the Huskies’ second round clash against Mater Dei. Taylor made up for lost time with 269 yards on 41 carries, including touchdowns of 21, 8, 2, 65 and 8 yards.
His 65-yard run arrived with 34 seconds in the first half as he bounced off a tackle, raced to the sideline and used a stiff-arm to reach the end zone.
“All I really wanted to do is play Bosco,” said Taylor, who also recovered a late onside kick to seal the victory and returned a kickoff 83 yards.
Taylor's onside recovery came after St. John Bosco running back Sean McGrew (196 yards, 24 carries, three TDs) scored on an 11-yard run with 3:38 left in the fourth. Bosco added the 2-point conversion to make it 62-52.
“That guy was a beast,” St. John Bosco coach Jason Negro said of Taylor.
Centennial’s execution also featured quarterback Anthony Catalano (225 yards, 3 Tds) teaming with receivers Javon McKinley (seven catches, 132 yards) and Cameron Jackson (three catches, 122 yards).
McKinley even tossed a 65-yard TD pass to Jackson on a double-pass in the second quarter, which saw the Huskies outscore the Braves, 35-21.
The 86 combined edged the record of 84 set in Bloomington's 82-62 victory against Artesia in a second round playoff game in 1994.
For the night, Centennial and Bosco (13-1) combined for 1,138 yards of total offense against a pair of strong defenses. But turnovers separated the teams. Centennial forced four turnovers leading to 20 points and committed none.
“You can’t win with that many turnovers,” Negro said. “Very uncharacteristic of our team. … It just put us in a hole.”
But the Braves hung tough without quarterback Quentin Davis, who left with a shoulder injury late in the first quarter.
“They wanted to keep battling and keep fighting. We just came up short,” said Negro, whose team turned to impressive sophomore Re-Al Mitchell (112 yards rushing, 179 passing). “The sad thing about (the game) is that it’s two years in a row. It’s like the exact same thing. It’s like déjà vu all over again.”
But for Centennial and Coach Matt Logan, the script again went just as planned.