East County Sports

Braves eliminated despite rushing efforts of McCullough, Smith

Coaches address ECVHS players following their playoff loss at Kearny on Friday night. / EastCountySports.com photo

By James McHugh

© EastCountySports.com

 

KEARNY MESA (11-14-15) — Friday the 13th wasn’t kind to the El Cajon Valley Braves. In a Division IV San Diego Section playoff game that saw 12 official time stoppages for injury, the most crucial one came in the first quarter for the Braves.

 

ECV at Kearny ScoreOn the Braves’ seventh offensive play Friday night (Nov. 13), senior quarterback CHARLES SMITH went to the turf and left the game for good with a leg injury. The Braves resorted to junior TYSON SMITH to take the reins. While Smith gained 112 yards on the ground throughout the night, it wasn’t enough for El Cajon Valley to move on in the Division IV playoffs. Kearny sent the Braves into the offseason with 28-12 defeat.

 

“It’s not so much that our game plan changed when we lost Charles, it’s that our whole playbook changes,” stated Braves head coach PARRIS PISIONA after the Braves’ tough loss.

 

NATHAN McCULLOUGH racked up 145 yards rushing for the Braves but even two 100-yard rushers could not lift the Braves above their shortages in the passing game.

 

“If there was a heart and soul of the team all season it was probably Nate. He’s a hard worker and always plays tough,” Pisiona said of the senior running back.

 

The lack of an aerial attack haunted the Braves throughout the night. Charles Smith managed only one pass attempt before his injury and Tyson Smith completed just one of four attempts on the night, though that was good for a 16-yard touchdown to RONNE READUS late in the third quarter. El Cajon Valley’s other score came on a 19-yard run up the middle by senior JUNIOR ROSAS early in the fourth quarter.

 

Unfortunately for the Braves, the Komets led 22-12 by that point and tacked on another score before the night was through.

 

Kearny quarterback Takoda Brown provided much of the offense for the Komets, including touchdown runs of 6 and 13-yards. Brown also threw two touchdown passes, one of those coming on a 61-yard strike to Treshaun Gray in the first quarter. Brown completed just five of eight pass attempts on the night and while he managed 83 yards rushing on 16 carries, 45 of those came on one run late in the night with the game well in hand for the Komets.

 

Statistically speaking Kearny didn’t do much to walk away with a victory offensively. It was the Komets’ ability to bend and not break on defense throughout the night that really hurt El Cajon Valley. Time and time again Kearny seemed to be daring the Braves to put the ball in the air, and time and time again the Braves refused.

 

Pisiona did see some positives in his team outside of the excellent rushing display from McCullough and Smith.

 

“We had a couple of sophomores out there tonight and got some good play from them,” the coach noted. “MARQUEL GARNER had a really nice night for us.”

 

El Cajon Valley drew the short end of the stick playing on the road against a lower-seeded team that they also beat head-to-head during the regular season. Kearny was awarded a home game because they won the Central League, a conundrum that is set to go away next season when league champions are no longer guaranteed home playoff games.

 

Superstition and home field advantage were hardly the Braves’ worst enemies Friday night however. The Braves racked up 16 penalties, of which, 6 were false starts. The Braves will need to replace excellent rushers in McCullough and Charles Smith next season, but the Braves biggest blessing may come if they can find a solid passing game wandering somewhere around the El Cajon Valley campus.

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