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Servite storms past Edison for championship
The Friars reign in the Pac-5 final, 16-6.
Click on the photo for a slide show from Servite's victory over Edison.
ANAHEIM - Servite had all kinds of opportunites in the first half against Edison and the Friars blew most of them.
They could have been frustrated and demoralized after completely dominating Edison for two quarters and only taking a three-point lead into halftime.
But Servite was completely unfazed when it took to the field just before the start of the second half. The players came out doing head-first slides on the rain-soaked turf. They were having fun and enjoying every minute of the CIF-SS Pac-5 Division championship game on Saturday night at Angel Stadium.
Servite capitalized on its chances in the second half and went on to a 16-6 triumph over the Chargers to capture its first championship since 1983. The Friars (13-1) avenged a a 23-9 nonleague loss to Edison (13-1) on Sept. 25.
Quarterback Cody Fajardo spear-headed Servite's charge in the second half, guiding his team on a 10-play, 70-yard scoring drive on their first possession of the second half.
On a third-and-9 play from midfield, Fajardo connected with Rudy Guerrero for a 37-yard gain. Two plays later, Fajardo pump-faked to Chris Nicholls before finding Ainslie Johnson in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown. That gave the Friars a 10-0 lead.
Edison got on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't easy. First, Nicholls saved the Friars from a certain safety when a punt snap went over his head and into the end zone. Nicholls picked up the loose ball and raced out to Servite's 20. It wasn't a first down, but it prevented the safety.
Edison needed to convert on fourth down twice to get 20 yards and into the end zone. Edison quarterback Matt Viles finally connected with Jordan Zumwalt for a 1-yard touchdown on fourth down. The extra-point attempt was blocked, but the Chargers had cut it to 10-6.
Edison got another chance when it took over at its own 4 after a perfect 41-yard punt by Fajardo. Edison picked up three first downs and got to Servite's 46 before the Friars defense stiffened up. The Chargers were faced with fourth-and-10 and had to go for it. Viles dropped back to pass and servite's Jherrmya Leuta-Douyere and Jody Thomas were all over him with a ferocious pass rush. Viles barely got a pass off intended for Luke Eddy, but he was double covered and it came up short.
Nicholls delivered the back breaker on the very next play when he scored on a 54-yard run to give the Friars a 16-6 lead to seal the victory.
The victory puts Servite in the running for the CIF Open Division state championship game, but that spot is likely to go to Crenshaw of L.A., which has been ranked higher than Servite all season. The Friars will likely earn the berth into the CIF Division II state title game. That announcement will be made by the State CIF on Sunday afternoon.
Servite forced three turnovers and held Edison to 35 yards of total offense in the first half. Viles was 1 of 6 for 4 yards in the first half. The Friars had 132 yards of total offense in the first half, but they only took a 3-0 lead into halftime.
The Friars had success moving the ball on offense, but they fizzled when they got in the end zone. Servite kicker Connor Loftus made his first goal attempt, a 24-yarder to give Servite a 3-0 lead with 2:28 left in the first quarter. But he missed a 40-yard attempt wide right, a 31-yarder wide left and he had 30-yard attempt blocked by Jeff Trojan.
The Chargers had to be thankful they only trailed by three points after that horrific start and Servite's red zone woes.
The Chargers looked like they had something working on their first possession when they looked to running back Wade Houston to be their workhorse and drove to Servite's 25. But then Servite defensive lineman Kirifi Taula hammered Houston to force a fumble and Servite's Josh Drake recovered.
Servite took over and Cody Fajardo completed a couple of passes to get the Friars to midfield. Then Fajardo pulled off a spectacular scramble just to keep from getting sacked before turning upfield for a 46-yard gain to Edison's 2.
But after a fumble out of bounds, a no gain and an incomplete pass and the Friars had to settle for Loftus' 24-yard field goal.
Servite was making its sixth appearance in the finals. The Friars won championships in 1960, '82 and '83 and lost to Newport Harbor in the 1994 final and to El Toro in the 1995 finals.
Edison was making its seventh appearance in the finals. The Chargers won championships in 1970, '79, '80 and were co-champions with Long Beach Poly in 1985. Edison lost to Long Beach Poly in the 2001 final and to Orange Lutheran in the 2006 finals.