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Mission Viejo goes rumbling into the playoffs
SAN CLEMENTE – Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson repeated his belief Friday that the Diablos shouldn’t be placed in the same playoff division as their private-school rivals. He believes public schools should have their own postseason bracket.
But his team showed that it will be more than ready next week when it opens the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs.
“When aren’t we (ready)?” Johnson, Orange County’s all-time leader in victories, said after second-ranked Mission Viejo claimed an eighth consecutive South Coast League title with a 41-3 victory at No. 8 San Clemente.
“We'll battle every day. That's all we can say. Overall, the privates should be the privates. They should have their own league. ... We'll go as long as we can go and maybe we'll surprise some people. I have no idea. We’re a good football team but we don't do the things they do and have the opportunities they do."
The records certainly show that. The reigning state champion Diablos extended their California-leading winning streak to 38 games.
Mission Viejo (10-0, 4-0) might have the best player in Orange County. Senior Colin Schooler rushed for 103 yards on just seven carries, scored two touchdowns and forced a fumble, one of four turnovers produced by Mission Viejo’s swarming defense.
The Diablos intercepted Duke commit Jack Sears twice and forced two fumbles. They scored 21 points off the turnovers and allowed just two first downs in the second half.
San Clemente (7-3, 3-1), bound for the Division 2 playoffs, entered averaging 41.5 points.
“We pursued very well (on defense) but we had a lot of penalties against us,” Schooler said. “We’ll work on that with some discipline this week. … It’s the best division in the country, in my opinion. I think we’re ready for it.”
The Diablos were flagged for eight personal fouls. San Clemente picked up three personal fouls.
Mission Viejo sophomore Jamari Ferrell rushed for 145 yards on 20 carries while Matt McDonald tossed three TDs, including a 57-yard to Olaijah Griffin and a 30-yarder to Christian LaValle.
But the most impressive stats belong to Mission Viejo’s defense. Cade Covarrubias had an interception and fumble recovery. Akili Arnold also had an interception while Jack Muench recorded two of the Diablos’ four sacks.
Leo Tamba added a sack and tackle for a loss.
San Clemente snapped the shutout with a 33-yard field goal by Tristan Trager with 2:56 left in the third quarter. Austin Whitsett set up the attempt with a 49-yard run to the Diablos 24 on fourth-and-1.
Mission Viejo held Sears to 2 yards on 17 carriers, and forced the senior to throw short passes to Brandon Reaves (12 catches for 81 yards).
Mission Viejo forced three turnovers in the first half, converting two of the takeaways into touchdowns en route to a 14-0 lead.
Schooler took care of the first turnover and first score by himself. On the third play from scrimmage, the senior forced a fumble that the Diablos recovered on their 36.
The Diablos scored seven plays later as McDonald rolled right and threaded a 5-yard TD pass to Schooler with 8:37 left in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Schooler broke at least two tackles on his way to a 71-yard TD run. The strike arrived three plays after linebacker Covarrubias intercepted a deflected pass in the end zone.
Arnold stopped another San Clemente drive with an interception at his 10 late in the first half.
The Diablos didn’t turn the ball over in the first half.
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