East County Sports

Mater Dei cruises out of Lakeside with win

EL CAPITAN's CONNOR ROOSA finds the end zone against Mater Dei Friday night in Lakeside. / Photo by Christopher Smith - MBA Sports




By Jim Lindgren
© East County Sports.com


LAKESIDE (9-3-16) — El Capitan came within 10 yards of a perfect season and a state championship in 2014.

Mater Dei came within an ineligible player of a perfect season last year, winning a state championship after having to forfeit a victory over El Capitan in Week 2.

The two schools clashed again Friday night (Sept. 2) at El Capitan, and Moses delivered the three commandments.

One on offense. One on defense. One on special teams.

Mater Dei’s Kyle Moses found the promised land three times in a 41-14 victory over El Capitan in a nonleague game at El Capitan.

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El Capitan’s STAR IULI is wrapped up by Mater Dei near the goal line Friday night. / photo by Christopher Smith – MBA Sports

A 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior being recruited by Holy Cross near Boston, Moses scored three touchdowns on a 9-yard catch, a 57-yard interception return and a 79-yard kickoff return to lead the Crusaders (2-0) over the Vaqueros (0-1).

“They’re unbelievably good,” El Capitan coach RON BURNER said. “They’ve got so many weapons it makes it awfully tough to prepare for them.”

El Capitan knew all about Mater Dei’s All-Section tailback CJ Verdell, who has committed to Oregon after rushing for 2,135 yards and 28 touchdowns a year ago. A week ago, he reeled off 276 yards and five TDs in a 35-0 win over Valley Center.

The Vaqueros knew all about quarterback Chris Jones, a deftly accurate passer who threw for 2,147 yards and 25 touchdowns with only one interception. Last week, he was 7-of-11 for 70 yards.

They even knew about wide receiver Elijah Shelton, who caught 23 balls for 803 yards and 11 TDs last year and knew he probably would not play because of a high ankle sprain sustained last week after grabbing five balls for 101 yards.

Moses was more of a mystery … but not anymore.

Moses hauled in a 9-yard touchdown catch on a slant pattern to put Meter Dei on the board first with 2:21 left in the first quarter.

He intercepted a pass and raced untouched 57 yards to give the Crusaders a 19-0 lead with 2:29 left in the second quarter.

Late in the third quarter, moments after El Capitan finally scored, he returned the ensuing kickoff 79 yards for another score and a 38-6 lead.

Moses finished with five receptions for 88 yards.

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El Capitan quarterback Phoenix Cates throws a pass Friday night. / photo by Christopher Smith – MBA Sports

The Vaqueros’ defense did a pretty good job limiting Verdell on all but two carries. The 5-9, 197-pound senior busted a 22-yard touchdown run up the middle for the Crusaders’ second score. On Mater Dei’s third play of the third quarter, he flashed a 62-yard sprint TD to make it 32-0.

“The O-line blocked it pretty good,” Verdell said. “That was fun.”

Verdell finished with 113 yards and two TDs on 16 carries.

Keeping up with Jones was also troublesome. He threw for 202 yards, completing 14-of-19 passes and two touchdowns.

“We did a lot of things well tonight,” Mater Dei coach John Joyner said. “I thought physically we held up pretty well. El Capitan is a very physical team. I’m proud of our boys.”

Mater Dei’s defense limited the Vaqueros to 75 yards and three first downs in the first half. The Vaqueros finished with 254 total yards.

“Any time our defense keeps playing the way they did – only 13 points in two games – I’m pretty proud of that,” Joyner said.

El Capitan’s STEVEN HOSAKA (four catches, 84 yards) spoiled any thought of another Mater Dei shutout when he made a spectacular catch of a PHOENIX CATES pass at the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown reception with 4:39 to play in the third quarter.

CONNOR ROOSA added another score for the Vaqueros on a 16-yard run with 3:13 to play. He tallied 81 yards on 14 carries.

Cates rebounded from a tough first half to finish with 141 yards on 10-of-24 passing. He was intercepted three times – by Moses, Jovan Bayless and Shaun Jones.

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El Capitan junior ANTONIO OLIVIERI tackles a Mater Dei player on Friday. / photo by Christopher Smith – MBA Sports

El Capitan linebacker DYLAN HELMHOLTZ had a big night with two quarterback sacks – on consecutive plays in the second quarter – a blocked PAT and several big stops.

KYLE CALDWELL and ISAIAS MANCILLA also posted sacks for the Vaqueros.

“They have a great running back (Verdell), probably the best in San Diego,” Burner said, “and they throw the ball very well.

“They also play good defense. They just outplayed us. We made too many mistakes.”

Officially, Mater Dei was 14-1 last year (with the forfeit to El Cap), whipped Bishop’s 49-14 to win the San Diego Section Division IV championship, and crushed Reedley Immanuel 56-21 to claim its first state championship. The Crusaders were bumped up to Division II this season.

El Capitan, also a Division II team, won its first section title in 2014 before dropping a heartbreaking 35-28 loss to Campolindo in the state championship game when a fumble was returned 90 yards for a touchdown in the final minute.

The Vaqueros next travel to Valley Center for a Friday (Sept. 9) contest.

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