Mustang, Sea Hawk victories ramp up rivalry tensions
by Paul Teetor
The Mira Costa and Redondo football teams both won last Friday night to set up their annual end-of-the-season rivalry game as a battle for second place in the Bay League and all the playoff seeding advantages that go with it. There is even a remote chance that the winner will share first place with Palos Verdes.
Both teams will come into the Friday night game at Mira Costa with identical records of 3-1 in the league and 6-3 overall. Palos Verdes has a near-lock on first place with a 4-0 record and is likely to end up undefeated after its game Friday afternoon against rival Peninsula, which is currently in fourth place in the Bay League. A shocking upset loss to Peninsula, however, would enable the winner of the Costa-Redondo game to tie for first place with PV.
Mira Costa Head Coach Don Morrow, who has run the Mustang program since 1993, understands that this year the rivalry game with Redondo will be even more intense than usual.
“We have to treat it like a playoff game,” Morrow said moments after his team destroyed Compton Centennial 48-6 to give the Mustangs a 3-game win streak heading into Friday night’s home clash with the Sea-Hawks. “Since it’s for second place in the league, there’s no telling what the playoff committee will do with the third-place team.”
While the Mustangs come into the rivalry game with a combined scoring advantage of 88-20 in their last two games over Bay League cellar-dwellers Leuzinger and Centennial, Redondo will be coming off a close, hard-fought 17-14 win over Peninsula Friday night.
The Sea-Hawks trailed for most of the night, but rallied late in the fourth quarter with a series of clutch plays. With a little over four minutes left in the game, Redondo trailed 14-10. That’s when defensive end Jacob Nash forced a fumble that Dylan Parkinson recovered on the Hawks’ 40-yard line.
From there, quarterback Daniel Webb drove his team down the field, even converting a fourth down that could have ended their hopes right there if they didn’t get the first down. Finally, Webb threw a bullet pass that found Markece Alexander in the end zone for the winning points with a minute and 40 seconds left.
Costa, meanwhile, was displaying the high-octane offense and stifling defense that has powered their whole season. Leading the charge, as usual, was their prolific junior quarterback “Slingin’” Sam Whitney and his sticky-fingered receiving squad of Thomas Southey, Kian Towfighi, Kayle Marsh and Jackson Fischer. Whitney threw for five touchdowns and over 300 yards.
Spurred on by a large, loud and enthusiastic homecoming crowd, the Mustangs set the tone early. On the second play of the game, Whitney dropped back, stepped up in the pocket to avoid the rush and launched a 54-yard bomb that cut through the warm night air and descended softly into the eager hands of a waiting Marsh.
Just like that, the Mustangs had a 7-0 lead with less than a minute gone. On their next drive, they got lucky when halfback Bryce Carlisle fumbled the ball while running around the right end. It bounced off the ground and right back into his hands. After that near-disaster, the Mustangs went back to Whitney, who connected on three consecutive passes – 23 yards to Southey, 7 yards to Carlisle and finally 18 yards to Southey for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
Centennial was able to do little with the football, and soon Whitney was driving his team down the field once again. It started with a 35-yard strike to Towfighi on the right sideline and then a 10-yard toss to a wide-open Southey for another TD to make it 21-0.
Just when it looked like Costa was about to trigger the so-called “mercy rule” for the second time this season – the first was when they destroyed El Segundo 52-7 – Centennial flipped the script and scored a TD on a quarterback keeper. But the 2-point conversion try was stopped and the Mustang lead was cut to 21-6.
Centennial tried an onside kick to get back in the game, but Towfighi scooped up the bouncing ball and quickly lateraled it to Fischer, who sprinted 60 yards for another TD, setting the crowd on fire with the razzle-dazzle play.
From there the Mustangs poured it on, taking a 35-6 lead into halftime on yet another Whitney TD pass. When Whitney opened the second half with an 18-yard TD pass to Southey, it triggered the mercy rule. Now the clock ran continuously and the rest of the game went quickly to its inevitable ending.
Afterwards, Morrow praised both teams.
“I thought we took a businesslike approach, and I thought Centennial never quit trying, never hung their heads,” he said. “But we’ll have to play even better against Redondo.”
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by Paul Teetor