Dave Rice 7:30 a.m., Feb. 28
Countdown to the Finals: Division I
(2) Eastlake (10-0-2) vs (4) Vista (10-2) Friday 8 p.m. at Qualcomm Stadium
The nightcap at the stadium features a traditional power trying to add to their legacy against a program trying to establish itself as a new power. The latter is Eastlake, who is making their first section finals appearance in the 19-year history of their program. The Titans had high expectations coming into the season and haven’t disappointed, not dropping a game since opening the season with two ties. Eastlake is one of the fastest teams in the section, led by UCLA-bound two-way star Tony Jefferson (1,951 rushing yards, 24 TDs). Eastlake’s defense has also been stout this season, allowing 12.3 points per game.
The first team is Vista, and the Panthers are making their first appearance in the finals since 2004, when they captured a share of the title. To win their first outright title since 2002, Vista will need to knock off an unbeaten for the second straight week after crushing top seed La Costa Canyon 47-7 in one of the most surprising results of the playoffs. The Panthers come in winners of seven straight, and their defense led by brothers Jeremiah and Ofisa Kose has only allowed 12.3 points per game this season Vista’s offense will need a few big plays from shifty running back Jordan Alexander to have a shot at the upset.