Garrett Harris 10:11 p.m., May 23
Game of the Week: Point Loma at No. 9 Madison
Warhawks beat Pointers to take Western League championship
CLAIREMONT MESA – With the Western League title on the line Friday night, Madison captured the crown by delivering a complete performance. The ninth-ranked Warhawks beat visiting Point Loma 28-14 in a winner-take-all regular season finale.
“It’s become a tradition at Madison, and every year we want to be league champs,” said Madison junior defensive lineman Tiasamo Savusa. “It felt great to come out and dominate this game.”
Defense controlled play early, and Madison (9-1, 4-0 Western) broke through for the first score with 1:08 left in the first quarter – an 11-yard run by senior running back Pierre Cormier. Cormier’s run capped a drive that Madison started on its own 34-yard line after Warhawks junior defensive end Sam Vermillion recovered a Point Loma fumble.
Just before halftime, Madison extended its lead to 14-0 on a 33-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Kareem Coles to junior receiver Michael Garner. On the score, Coles scrambled to his left and appeared to run out of room near the sideline when he found Garner downfield.
“It was very big – that got all the momentum on our side,” Coles said. “I scrambled, saw the receiver come back to the ball and I just gave it to him.”
Madison stopped Point Loma (7-3, 3-1) on the opening drive of the second half and quickly increased its lead after getting the ball back. The Warhawks drove 74 yards in less than two minutes, taking a 21-0 lead on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Coles to senior receiver Lee Walker with 6:50 left in the third quarter.
“The key was staying disciplined, listening to our coaches and using the preparation we put in all week on the field,” Cormier said.
Point Loma got on the board on the ensuing possession by driving 80 yards for a score – a 4-yard touchdown run by junior running back Sydney Rush – that made it 21-7. But Madison answered with a touchdown drive to put the game away, taking a 21-point lead on a 1-yard run by Coles with 1:31 left in the third quarter.
“It was a pretty good game – I still have a lot to improve on and I’m trying to get better,” Coles said. “The key was everyone executing and everyone playing well.”
Midway through the fourth quarter, Point Loma cut Madison’s lead to 14 points when senior quarterback Branden Martin connected with senior receiver Zach Eischen for a 5-yard score. But the Pointers couldn’t get closer than that the rest of the way, as Madison rolled to the league title after sharing it with Point Loma last season.
“Last year they played us tough and it ended in a tie, so we wanted to come out here and be league champs and just show everyone that we are going to come into the playoffs strong,” Cormier said.
Cormier finished with 113 total yards – 75 on the ground – after being held to 12 yards rushing in the first half. With the ground game struggling Madison found big plays through the air, as Coles threw for 175 yards and two touchdowns on 9-of-13 passing.
“They had a really good push up front with their defensive line,” Cormier said. “They did a good job defending our run, but we found a way to win and use our athleticism to score.”
Madison shut out Point Loma in the first half and kept the Pointers’ offense in check throughout the game. In addition to its misdirection-filled Wing-T attack, Point Loma ran plays out of the shotgun and direct snaps to senior running back Jamal Agnew but had little success against the Warhawks defense.
“The key to stopping them was just stay low and dominate the man lined up against you,” Savusa said.
With the victory, Madison captured its sixth straight league title and third consecutive championship in the Western League. The Warhawks are expected to be one of the top two seeds in Division IV when the brackets are released tomorrow, and are riding an eight-game winning streak into the postseason.
“We worked hard and we came a long way from that loss to Valhalla – we’ve dominated teams ever since,” Savusa said. “It still motivates us because it shows us that we’re beatable. We’re practicing hard to be unbeatable.”