East County Sports

Sultans reach game of big magnitude

Santana junior defensive end Michael Richter. / photo by Ken Todd




(1) SANTANA vs. (2) SERRA


EastCountySports.com staff report


SANTEE – The 2019 Santana High varsity football team has already joined a handful of other Sultan clubs that will continue to be regaled in school history among the best ever to take the field at the Magnolia Ave. campus.

Come late Friday afternoon, this year’s Sultans may be able to lay their claim to be the school’s all-time best.

The top-seeded Santana Sultans (11-1) will try for their first-ever San Diego Section CIF football championship when they meet the second-seeded Serra Conquistadors (10-2) in the section’s Division IV final at Southwestern College’s DeVore Stadium on Friday at 1 p.m.

Santana’s great clubs of the past include the 1991 Sultans, which could be the standard in which the others are currently measured.

That year, the team went 11-1 under head coach Jerry Ralph, winning the Grossmont North League championship, only losing in the section Division II final to legendary local power, Oceanside, 49-40. The Sultan offense produced record-setting numbers behind then-future Colorado State quarterback D.J. Busch.

The 2011 Santana Sultans at then-Qualcomm Stadium following the San Diego CIF Division IV championship game.

The 2011 Santana team, under head coach Dave Gross, was 11-1 heading into a section title game and did it with the defense behind a unit that posted four-straight regular-season shutouts but it was without do-it-all star Landon Lozoya in the final and lost only for the second time that season in the Division IV championship to Valley Center, 20-14. That team had its own sack master – Jason Patterson – who previously held the school record with 17 1/2 sacks.

More recently, the 2016 team, under current head coach Tim Estes (now in his eighth year at Santana) went 6-4 in the regular season but got a postseason roll that resulted in a title game berth at today’s locale in Chula Vista, where the Sultans fell on a Friday afternoon to that year’s California small schools Player of the Year and current Virginia Tech quarterback Braxton Burmeister and the La Jolla Country Day Torreys, 38-24.

This year’s team seems to have qualities from all three, which could be more than enough to defeat the underdog Q-Dawgs, matching the offense of the 1999 club, the defense of the 2011 unit and the ‘clutch gene’ that the 2016 team possessed.

And none of those groups have as many players who have won more football games in their prep career as these guys.

Santana showed all the facets in a stunningly one-sided semifinal win against the county’s leading rusher.

The Sultans gave up the game’s first touchdown last Friday night to the Orange Glen Patriots but after the initial¬†series, Santana stopped star back Cael Patterson with a stifling defensive effort, limiting one of the section’s all-time leading rushers to just 129 yards – 60 of which came on a run on the game’s first drive – as Santana won 35-14 behind four touchdown passes from senior quarterback Nathan Temple.

But the team won the game with a stunning performance by the defense, led by senior Michael Richter’s three sacks. Richter also had nine total tackles.

Richter was named Cal-Hi Sports SoCal Defensive Player of the Week for his effort in the victory.

Richter has shaken, rocked and taken down opposing quarterback to the ground 19 1/2 times this season, setting a school record.

“After that first run we kind of locked in,” Santana senior strong safety Cameron LaRiccia said. “We’ve already beat Serra once (34-10 at Serra in Week 2), now we’re going to go out and do it again.”

Temple passed for 227 yards and touchdowns to Randy Smith and Jared Forster in the first half, then he connected with senior Dean Landers late in the second quarter as the Sultans were hardly threatened after the first 12 minutes of the game.

Senior running back Brooks Moutaw rushed for 141 yards on 15 carries, and despite doing most of the Sultans’ groundwork over the last two years in Santana’s prolific passing offense, he has amassed nearly 2,200 career rushing yards and 28 career touchdowns on the ground.

He rushed for a 35-yard touchdown for the Sultans’ final touchdown on Friday night, giving him 34 total in his three-year varsity career.

Santana trailed 6-0 when Temple threw a 60-yard bomb down the right side to Smith for a 7-6 lead. Forster’s touchdown was a thing of extraordinary effort, as the junior escaped the grasp of three would-be tacklers en route to the end zone.

Landers caught touchdowns of 16 and 18 yards, the second of which came in the third quarter.

Running behind the Sultans’ self-proclaimed Big Belly Crew – led by Luke Simanek, Andrew Golembiewski, Jayce Lynch, Adrian King and Jordan Ortiz, Santana’s balanced offense is averaging nearly 38 points per game.

“It’s going to be a great game,” Simanek said of the final. “We’ve got to keep this going and get things done and win this championship.”

Temple has thrown for 2,348 yards and 34 touchdowns this season, while Smith for 750 yards and 17 TDs.

The Conquistadors have won 10-in-a-row since the loss to Santana in Week 2.

Serra comes in averaging 42.3 points-per-game, while the Sultans are putting up 37.9 points-per-game this season.

Conquistador senior quarterback Timmy Zebroski has passed for 1,882 yards this season with 20 touchdowns. He had also rushed for 461 yards and six scores.

Serra senior receiver Broock Desta had 24 receptions this season, including seven for touchdowns while junior Willie Peterson had 16 receptions for six scores.

Junior running back Brevin Lingao has rushed for 837 yards and 12 touchdowns this season to lead Serra.

Serra defensive end Nathan Meyers had a team-high 14 sacks this season, while junior Michael Cooper has sacked the quarterback eight times. Serra has 47 sacks as a team.

Desta has eight interceptions this season, as the Q-Dawgs have 19 picks on the year.

In the win over the Q-Dawgs back in Aug., Temple passed for 210 yards, including 143 yards and two touchdowns to Smith. Moutaw rushed for 89 yards and a score in the game.

Ironically, it was against Serra that Temple suffered a broken collarbone in Week 2 win in 2018, knocking him from the lineup for seven games. The Sultans finished the regular season 5-5 but advanced to the section semifinals in Division IV, falling to eventual section and state champion San Diego.

Serra is making its first section championship game appearance.

Given the fact that the Cavers eliminated Santana last season and that Orange Glen won section and state titles last season, as well, gives the Sultans’ potential championship resume a boost for a state playoff run.

But none of that is possible without the Sultans winning their first section football title… SANTANA, 28-20.

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