Ian Pike 10 a.m., March 7
Coronado in semis for first time in program history
Islanders face Valley Center tonight for shot at the stadium
Win or lose Friday night in the Division IV semis, Coronado has already made history this season. No team in program history has ever advanced this far into the postseason.
“We started football in 1913 and we’ve had a number of great teams, but no one has gotten to the semifinals,” said Coronado head coach Bud Mayfield.
Mayfield is in his 21st year as the Islanders’ head coach. He is also the program historian, and as such reminds the players about the historical significance of reaching the semis.
“It’s been a goal. I’m constantly reminding them,” Mayfield said. To advance to the semifinals, the No. 5 seed Islanders first had to exact some revenge. Coronado won 35-20 at Santa Fe Christian in the quarterfinals last Friday, avenging a 10-point loss to the Eagles in October.
“It felt so much better than if we would have beat them in the regular season,” said Islanders senior wide receiver and defensive back Keith Englehart. “That was sort of a payback and winning it in the playoffs was a lot better.”
Since their first loss to Santa Fe Christian, Coronado has won five straight. In those wins, the Islanders have allowed an average of 10 points per game and Mayfield said the defensive unit has played well recently.
“They were tested early in the year. They’re small on the front four and it took them some time to come together,” Mayfield said. “In the last three weeks, they have come alive.”
The spread option offense that Coronado switched to in the offseason has been alive all year. Lead by dual threat quarterback Mason Mills, the Islanders have scored 38 points per game.
Coronado quarterback Mason Mills has completed 71 percent of his passes this season. Mills and the Islanders face off against Valley Center tonight in the Division IV semifinals.
“I would never have changed this offense unless we believed it was going to be tremendously effective,” Mayfield said.
Mayfield said Coronado made the switch because of their receiver corps and Mills’ ability to run. Mills has thrown for 2661 yards and 35 touchdowns this season and rushed for another 426 yards and nine scores.
“You can run the spread with a stand-up drop bock quarterback, but it’s not going to be anywhere near as effective,” Mayfield said. “He’s a very effective runner for a quarterback, and that’s what gives it the extra dimension.”
Friday, the No. 5 seed Islanders (9-2) make the more than one-hour trip north to take on No. 1 seed Valley Center (9-2). Englheart said the lengthy bus ride won’t bother Coronado.
“I hope it doesn’t make us too tired,” Englehart said. “As soon as we get off the bus, we’re going to be pumped.”
In order to pull off their second straight upset, Coronado will need to slow down Valley Center’s dynamic duo of quarterback Tyler Bernard and wide receiver James Johnson. Junior defensive back Kodie Englehart draws the tough assignment of covering Johnson.
“We think [Johnson] needs to have his own attention on every play,” Mayfield said. “They don’t throw to him that much statistically, but he’s lethal.”
Other than that, Keith Englehart said the plan for success is simple.
“Just keep playing good and hard and never quit,” Englehart said.
So far, that formula has been historic for the Islanders.