David Dodd 2:53 a.m., May 21
Pirates drub Mavericks in showdown of section’s top teams
CARLSBAD – The highly anticipated showdown between top-ranked Oceanside and second-ranked La Costa Canyon on Friday night ended up a one-sided rout. The visiting Pirates drubbed the Mavericks in an emphatic 56-0 victory that left no doubt about which team is the section’s best.
“Coming to the game, looking at the team on the bus and seeing the look in their eyes, I thought it could be a special night,” said Oceanside senior quarterback Tofi Paopao. “We came out and did what we had to do – we handled our business.”
Oceanside (8-1, 3-0 Avocado West) took control of the game from the outset. The Pirates started their first three drives in La Costa Canyon territory – two following Mavericks’ turnovers – and found the end zone each time, taking a 21-0 lead 47 seconds into the second quarter when senior running back William Gulley ran for a 1-yard score.
“We came out here and just tried to execute,” Gulley said. “We know that if we come out and do our game plan and execute the way we can then we should come out on top every time.“
Down by three scores, La Costa Canyon (7-2, 3-1) moved the ball effectively on the next drive and had first-and-goal at the Oceanside 1-yard line. But the Pirates kept the Mavericks out of the end zone on four straight plays, capping the goal-line stand when Gulley stuffed LCC senior Jake Sesti on a quarterback sneak.
“I knew it was going to be a quarterback sneak. We ran our ‘whip’ play, and I just hit him over the top and just started driving my feet,” Gulley said. “I brought him down before the goal line – I knew he didn’t score.”
Oceanside took over on its own one-yard line and embarked on a seven-minute scoring drive that put the Pirates ahead 28-0 just before halftime. Gulley capped the 99-yard march with a 1-yard score on fourth-and-goal with 30 seconds left in the half.
“We ran down the clock and that took them out of the game,” Paopao said. “We had that long drive, and we knew we were getting the ball first in the second half and it just carried right on.”
Oceanside drove 68 yards for a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half, extending its lead with a Gulley two-yard run with 7:54 left in the third quarter. Pirates senior defensive back Ryshaud Keegan intercepted a pass on the first play of the next possession and Oceanside converted the turnover to points with a 10-yard run by senior running back Thai Cottrell that made it 42-0.
“There were people thinking La Costa Canyon was going to win and we had a chip on our shoulders this week,” Paopao said. “We kept the same consistent practice like we do every week.”
A pair of Oceanside interception return touchdowns on the next two possessions – 21 yards by junior Mikah Holder and 46 yards by junior Alijah Holder – punctuated the Pirates victory. Following the second score, La Costa Canyon senior receiver Levi Michelson took out his frustration with a late hit on Oceanside senior lineman C.J. Tauala that injured Tauala and resulted in Michelson’s ejection.
“It was over the top,” said Oceanside head coach John Carroll. “That was as bad as I’ve seen in a high school football game.”
Oceanside built its 56-point lead before the end of the third quarter, resulting in a running clock for the last quarter. For La Costa Canyon the shutout loss was its first scoreless game since the 2004 season, ending a 103-game streak.
“It was outstanding performance and outstanding play in every phase and facet of the game,” Carroll said. “Performance-wise, I’m incredibly pleased by the way we played.”
Oceanside dominated La Costa Canyon to make a convincing statement of section supremacy. With the win, the Pirates appear headed to the Avocado West League crown and the top seed in the Division II playoffs.
“Our team is a very good team, and we’re going to come out and do this kind of execution every week no matter who it is,” Gulley said. “It doesn’t matter what team we’re playing — we’re going to judge us on us.”