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JOSH BARBER, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Mission Viejo head coach Bob Johnson poses with the championship plaque after his Diablos defeated Vista Murrieta, 21-14, in Friday night's CIF-SS West Valley Division championship game at Vista Murrieta.

Mission Viejo repeats as West Valley champion

STAFF WRITER

MURRIETA – Brock Johnson pumped his fist at his Mission Viejo sideline when his long pass in the fourth quarter appeared to put the go-ahead score in reach.

Colin Schooler then put the final touches – 12 to be exact – on a second consecutive CIF-Southern Section championship.

Schooler carried the ball 12 consecutive times to run out the final 5:48 of the fourth quarter and also scored a go-ahead 1-yard touchdown run early in the period to help lift the top-seeded Diablos past the host No. 2 Broncos, 21-14, Friday night in the teams’ second straight clash for the West Valley title.

Johnson and his father and offensive coordinator, Bret Johnson, hugged to ignite a wild celebration that clinched a 26th consecutive victory and sent Mission Viejo (14-0) to the state regional playoffs next week. Head coach Bob Johnson, Brock's grandfather, captured his eight CIF title, fifth at Mission Viejo.

“Happiest feeling in the world,” said Brock Johnson, who threw two touchdowns in the face of constant pressure from the Broncos (12-2).

“We were physical. We were saying those last two drives were championship drives. (If) you want to be a championship team, you got to have a couple championship drives. ... It was a battle."

Schooler capped a 72-yard drive early in the fourth quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run that gave Mission Viejo a 21-14 lead with 10:13 left. Johnson helped set up the score with a 38-yard completion on third-and-11 to Olaijah Griffin to the Broncos 3.

Vista Murrieta hit Johnson as he released the pass -- a common sight all night -- but the senior celebrated as the Diablos moved in for the score. Johnson said the Broncos hit and pressured him more than any opponent.

"I've never been hit and pressured that much," said Johnson, who was sacked twice and pressured four times in the first quarter.

Schooler’s winning score was setup by a spectacular diving interception by his brother, Brenden Schooler, at his 28 with 52 seconds left in the third quarter.

Brenden, a senior, delivered a huge game with blocked a field goal, touchdown reception and strong play on special teams.

The safety/receiver also broke up a third-and-18 pass with 6:01 left in the fourth that forced the Broncos to punt from midfield on their final possession.

Colin Schooler then took Mission Viejo from its 23 to deep into Vista Murrieta territory. His 12th straight carry recorded a first down at Broncos' 13 in the final moments, prompting the victory formation for the Diablos.

The junior running back/linebacker finished with 154 yards on season-high 33 carries. Late in the final drive, Mission Viejo's student section chanted, "Colin! Colin!"

“Monumental (additions),” Brock Johnson said of the Schooler brothers, transfers from Trabuco Hills, last season's Southwest Division champion. "Great kids, on and off the field."

Johnson finished 8 of 22 passing for 161 yards passing and was part of a Mission Viejo squad that didn't commit a turnover.

The Diablos' defense forced two turnovers and won the duel on special teams. Brenden Schooler and Griffin, a promising sophomore, were in on several tackles on special teams.

Vista Murrieta star returner Kyle Williams didn't score and was quiet on offense. The Arizona State commit did have a 50-yard run on a reverse to the Mission Viejo 1 negated by a key penalty on the Broncos' second to last possession, a drive that could have tied the score, 21-21.

Vista Murrieta still got once more chance, starting its final drive at its 40 with 7:27 left. Brenden Schooler's pass breakup ended the march.

"The difference in the game was they made three long passes for TDs (one negated by penalty)," Vista Murrieta coach Coley Candaele said. "Mission Viejo makes zero mistakes. They've done that all year, and that's why they're 14-0."

Mission Viejo led, 14-7, at halftime but the lead didn’t last long. Wide receiver Khalil Shakir caught a 57-yard touchdown pass on the first possession of the third quarter to tie the score, 14-14.

Mission Viejo blocked a field goal early in the second quarter to spark a drive that led to a go-ahead touchdown pass by Johnson.

Brenden Schooler blocked a 35-yard field goal attempt by Kane Page and Griffin returned the ball 35 yards to the Vista Murrieta 47 with 9:21 in the first half.

Johnson then threw a 45-yard touchdown pass on third-and-8 to Griffin as Mission Viejo opened a 14-7 lead that carried into halftime.

Mission Viejo’s faithful erupted on the TD strike because earlier on the drive, Johnson had a 45-yard touchdown pass on a long throw to Jason Lee negated by offsetting personal fouls, which replayed the down.

Vista Murrieta scored on its opening possession in the first quarter as Karson Greeley tossed a 31-yard TD to his twin brother, Kade. Mission Viejo tied the score with two seconds left in the first quarter on a 41-yard touchdown pass by Johnson to Brenden Schooler in the end zone.

Mission Viejo’s defense tightened in the first half, twice forcing Vista Murrieta to turn the ball over on downs. Defensive linemen AJ Knight stopped one fourth-down attempt with an interception off a pressure by Carter Hartmann, who forced a pass toward the line of scrimmage. The Diablos' second stand came at the end of the first half as the Broncos stalled at the Mission Viejo 28.

Brock Johnson said Brenden Schooler's interception late in the third quarter provided a key momentum shift. The Diablos, who haven't lost since their 0-2 start in 2014, ultimately road the wave a second straight title.

"Last two years, we're all brothers," Johnson said. "We just really all grew together."

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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