Larry Steckling 6 p.m., March 31
Titans dethrone Panthers in record-setting blowout
QUALCOMM STADIUM – Poway came into the season with dreams of a Division I title, and on Monday night concluded its campaign in dreamlike fashion. The top-seeded Titans played a near perfect game against third-seeded Vista, winning their second section title in school history with a record-setting 56-0 victory.
“That is one way to go out,” said Poway quarterback Gabriel Isaak. “I’m so proud of these guys – they worked so hard from the very beginning and we believed that we would win this game. It’s finally here, we finally did it, and now we can celebrate.”
Rather than shy away from the championship spotlight, Poway (12-0-1) embraced it from the outset. The Titans blew away Vista (7-6) with seven touchdowns in the first half, including a pair of three-score outbursts in each of the opening quarters.
“We got up early and the pressure came off, and everybody was loose and just started having fun,” said Poway head coach Damian Gonzalez.
Poway had a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter and broke the game open by scoring two touchdowns in 11 seconds. With 6:28 left Conor Flanagan ran for a seven-yard touchdown to put the Titans up 14-0 and after a Jonathan Petersen interception, Poway scored on its next play – a 21-yard touchdown pass from Isaak to Isaiah Gross.
“We were clicking tonight and so many kids stepped up,” Gonzalez said. “It was just a whole team effort.”
After the first quarter Poway had a commanding 28-0 lead, and the score stayed that way until the Titans unleashed a three-touchdown assault on Vista in the final three minutes of the first half. The middle score was a 65-yard interception return touchdown by junior Derek Babiash that put Poway up by 42 points.
“I saw the guy break on the out route and I knew I was going to jump it,” Babiash said. “The ball came and right when I got it I had my eyes on the end zone and I kept on running.”
Babiash finished the game with a career-high three interceptions and more than 100 interception return yards. Poway forced seven Vista turnovers in what ended as the most lopsided title game in section history.
“I wanted to make big plays, so basically I was just being a ballhawk and following where the ball went,” Babiash said. “Whatever our coaches game plan during the week, we just listen to that and seem to end up in the right spots every game.”
Poway led by 49 at halftime, and finished with a finals record 56 points. The Titans captured their first Division I crown since 2007 by drubbing the defending champion Panthers.
“Our kids played so well, I’m so proud of them and I’m so excited,” Gonzalez said. “I’m glad we brought home another title to Poway.”