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Long, painful night for No. 5 Santa Margarita
BELLFLOWER - Jason Negro said one of his goals when he took over as coach of the St. John Bosco of Bellflower football program three years agowas to change the culture surrounding the team.
Consider it done.
Negro and the Braves (6-4, 5-0) applied the finishing touches on a perfect Trinity League season as they defeated fifth-ranked Santa Margarita (8-2, 3-2), 42-15, on Friday night to clinch the league title.
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The Braves won the school's first outright league football title since 2002 in the Serra League.
Santa Margarita finished third in the Trinity League. Mater Dei, which finished second, one game behind St. John Bosco, is the other playoff team from the Trinity League.
The Braves actually finished the regular season 10-0 on the field. They were forced to forfeit four of their victories because of the use of an ineligible player.
St. John Bosco entered this week ranked third in the CIF-SS Pac-5 Division. St. Bonaventure will likely be the top seed entering the playoffs. The Braves could move to No. 2.
"I think we did that a little quicker than we thought," Negro said. "We had a really good off-season and got in the weight room and that was one thing we knew we had to change at this school and we did that and the kids bought in and we're real proud."
The Eagles came into the game knowing that there was a possibility of a three-way tie for the league title if they weren't able to take care of business.
Those concerns were quickly alleviated.
Bosco's offense scored touchdowns on its first two possessions and linebacker Christian Holland added a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown for a 21-0 lead with 1:51 left in the opening quarter.
"I think we got fortunate with a couple of turnovers right at the very beginning in their territory and it led to scores," Negro said. "We got up on them, they made a big play to make it 21-8, but overall I just real happy with our performance. The momentum at the very beginning was huge."
The Eagles got as close as 35-15 on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Josh Canty to River Cracraft before halftime, but couldn't get any closer.
Santa Margarita, which has battled its share of injuries recently, simply didn't have the firepower to keep up with the Braves.
The Eagles managed just five first downs in the second half.
"They're terrific and they played really well," Santa Margarita coach Harry Welch said of St. John Bosco. "I knew coming in that they were one of the most talented teams in California and they played like it."
Ryan Wolpin led the Eagles with 105 rushing yards. Kyle Sweet and Canty split time at quarterback. Canty played the entire second half.
"Ryan (Wolpin) has been wonderful, but he's been banged up and you couldn't say we're all going to jump on Ryan," Welch said. "He played with courage, effort and toughness.
"It is difficult to keep saying OK, somebody else will step up and then somebody else will step up. That's not reality."