John Mann 12:38 p.m., March 11
Healthy Francis Parker rolls past Horizon in Division V semis
RANCHO BERNARDO – With so many injuries in the middle of this season, Francis Parker head coach John Morrison said his starters felt like their season was shortchanged. Now healthy, the defending back-to-back Division V champs are making up for lost time in the postseason.
In the Division V semifinals Friday night at Rancho Bernardo High, the 3-seed Lancers stormed out of the gates and never looked back in a 52-28 win over 2-seed Horizon. For Francis Parker, the win avenged a 20-0 loss to the Panthers in Coastal League play.
“It wasn’t just the most complete football, it was probably the most complete football we’ve played with a complete team,” Morrison said. “We’ve finally gotten some guys back that we really missed. It makes a world of difference and it gives the rest of our kids confidence that we can make a mistake or to and still know that we can recover.”
Leading 17-6 in the second quarter after scoring on their first three drives, Francis Parker (6-6) scored a touchdown on special teams and defense in a 13-second span to take a 25-point lead into the break. Following a Markel Byrd touchdown, Francis Parker defensive back Roland Jackson took the ensuing kickoff 74 yards for a score and on the next play from scrimmage, Lancers defensive end Matt Wile intercepted a Bryd pass and returned it 11 yards to the endzone.
“Last week we played Country Day and we played pretty well. Not as well as we should have, but we played good enough to do the job,” said Francis Parker running back/defensive back. “We knew we had a lot more in store for Horizon.”
After both teams traded touchdowns to begin the second half, Brookins delivered the knockout blow late in the third quarter. The senior back took a handoff and appeared to be stopped at the line before reversing field and breaking loose for a 40-yard touchdown run with 1:49 left in the quarter to put the game out of reach for Horizon (7-4).
“It was pretty ugly, but all I needed was little bit of a push to get through the hole and that’s what we did,” Brookins said. “We had Roland [Jackson] the wideout and [Warren] Brody the quarterback making great blocks, too. That’s all it took.” When Francis Parker and Horizon met on Oct. 29, the Lancers were without five starters. Brookins was one of the starters who didn’t dress for the contest.
“It felt really good just the fact that our team held them really well,” Brookins said. “With our team holding them without all the starters, we knew that we could take them.”
Closing the regular season with four straight losses, Francis Parker limped into the Division V playoffs. The Lancers received a much-needed bye and have stormed through their two postseason games after the week off.
“We talked about a new season when the playoffs started and I’m excited that we get to spend another week together,” Morrison said. “We never got a chance in the regular season to show what we could really do and now we are.”
Francis Parker will meet top-seed Bishop’s (12-0) in the Division V finals on Friday at Mesa College. In their first meeting this season, the Lancers lost 28-14 to the Knights at La Jolla High.
“That was a close one too and I remember shaking hands with [Bishop’s running back] Alec Fisher and he said, ‘I’ll see you in CIF.’ And I said, ‘Yeah we will,’” Brookins said. “It couldn’t be any sweeter.”
Francis Parker quarterback Warren Brody scrambles outside of the pocket