David Dodd 2:33 a.m., May 19
Game of the Week: Patrick Henry at El Camino
Williams sets school rushing mark as Wildcats roll past Patriots in first round
OCEANSIDE – El Camino controlled the line of scrimmage against Patrick Henry in the first round of the Division I playoffs on Friday night, and that dominance led to a victory and a record-setting performance. The fifth-seeded Wildcats eliminated the 12th-seeded Patriots 26-3, a victory highlighted by senior Justin Williams becoming El Camino’s all-time leading rusher.
“We’re going to enjoy this one and move on to next week,” Williams said. “They’re a great team but I feel like matching up against most teams we have the advantage.”
Williams opened the scoring late in the first quarter, putting El Camino (7-4) ahead 6-0 with a 7-yard touchdown run. From the outset, the Wildcats had an advantage in the trenches on both sides of the ball.
“The key was staying to our game – running the ball with me and (senior fullback) Micah Sua – we’re two workhorses that cause trouble for other defenses,” Williams said. “We have a huge offensive line, an experienced line that opens up holes.”
Patrick Henry (9-2) responded with a methodical eight-minute drive capped by a 35-yard Ben Cooper field goal that made it 6-3 with 6:46 remaining in the second quarter. On the ensuing possession, El Camino broke free from the defensive struggle with a 61-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Chris Beauchamp to senior receiver Corey Bogans – and the Wildcats took a 13-3 lead into halftime.
El Camino opened the second half with a lengthy 78-yard scoring drive that tightened its grip on the game. The Wildcats chewed up more than eight minutes of the third quarter, extending their lead to 19-3 on a Beauchamp screen pass to Sua that went 20 yards for a score with 3:49 remaining.
“That was a huge drive for us – it really set the tone for the second half,” Williams said. “We came out firing, moved the ball all the way down the field and just kept it rolling from there.”
Sua added a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:34 left in the fourth quarter to punctuate El Camino’s victory. Patrick Henry’s three points were both a season-low for the Patriots and the least points allowed by the Wildcats’ defense this year.
“They did certain things out of certain formations, which we were prepared for, and our guys did a really good job of getting our checks and making sure guys were lined up,” said El Camino head coach Pulu Poumele. “We were solid in our alignment and we played football.”
Williams broke the El Camino all-time career rushing record with a 10-yard carry in the fourth quarter, surpassing Sean Sweat. The 5-foot-10-inch, 225-pound back finished the game with 249 yards on 30 carries, bringing his season total to 2,150 yards.
“Coming into high school that was always a goal for me – to set some records,” Williams said. “I worked my butt off in the offseason every single year and I couldn’t have done it without my team – it’s a team effort and one individual can’t do it by themself.”
El Camino advances to face fourth-seeded San Pasqual next Friday in the Division I quarterfinals. The postseason victory is the Wildcats’ first since 2009 and first under Poumele following consecutive first-round exits.
“We can make a strong run if we just stick to our game and worry about ourselves,” Williams said.
For Patrick Henry, senior quarterback James McCormick was one of the few bright spots in the loss that brought one of the best seasons in school history to an end. The Patriots finished with nine victories after winning five games combined in the previous three seasons.
“The kids did a great job this year, and this is a tough loss,” said Patrick Henry head coach Mike Martinez. “This season is a great accomplishment considering where we were coming from.”