East County Sports

Serra sacks Sultans in Division IV final

Santana players knock a Serra ball carrier out of bounds during the first half. / photo by Ramon Scott

Santana senior Luke Simenek makes a stop against Serra. / photo by Ramon Scott



(2) SERRA 41, (1) SANTANA 7


By Jim Lindgren

Special to EastCountySports.com


CHULA VISTA – Santana was shopping for the first football championship banner in the 54-year history of the school, but Black Friday turned into Black and Blue Friday for the top-seeded Sultans.


For the lunchtime title game, the brown-and-gold Serra Conquistadors were brown-bagging it, posting a record 10 sacks and limiting Santana to minus-34 rushing yards in winning the San Diego Section Division IV championship game, 37-7, on a chilly Friday afternoon at Southwestern College.


Playing in its first final in its 43-year history No. 2 Serra (11-2) dominated the championship and advanced to the state playoffs, which will be announced on Sunday. Santana (11-2) had beaten Serra, 31-14, in Week 2, but the Q’s have won 11 straight since then.

Santana stops Serra on a run in the first half on Friday. / photo by Ramon Scott

“They were just a better football team than us today,” Santana coach Tim Estes said. “They came after us and never slowed down.”


Serra’s 10 sacks – three by Kionne Curry, two by Malachi Cooper – set a section final record.


“I’ve never been sacked 10 times,” Santana senior quarterback Nathan Temple said. “It was a tough game. We struggled as a team, couldn’t find the answers. Today wasn’t our day.


“We just couldn’t figure it out. We couldn’t get it together on offense. We couldn’t stop them on defense.”


Temple was 21-of-31 passing for 205 yards, but he was pressured more than in any other game the Sultans have played, and Serra’s Broock Destra made a spectacular one-handed interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter.


Serra quarterback Timmy Zebroski was 12-of-23 passing for 136 yards and rushed 11 times for 95 yards and touchdowns of 15, 28 and 12 yards.

Serra senior quarterback Timmy Zebroski runs against Santana on Friday. / photo by Ramon Scott

“This feels amazing,” Zebroski said. “This is a dream come true – to be the first quarterback to lead our school to a championship, plus get three touchdowns. This is awesome.”


Zebroski dislocated his shoulder in the Santana game earlier this season, He missed one game then came back to lead the Q’s to a remarkable run to the title.


Temple broke his left collarbone in the 2018 game at Serra late in the first half. He stayed in the game, however, threw for 224 yards and a fourth-quarter TD in a 24-22 win. Temple missed the next seven games but came back to lead the Sultans to the semifinals.


He was battered again on Friday, carrying 18 times for minus-37 yards.


“I left everything I had on the field,” Temple said. “I left no regrets on this field. We played our hearts out.”


Brevin Lingao rushed 12 times for 129 yards and two TDs for Serra. Dustan Ellison added 66 yards on 18 carries as Serra piled up 430 yards.


On Serra’s second possession, Lingao gave the Q’s a 6-0 lead on a 12-yard TD run. Zebroski made it 12-0 midway through the second quarter with a 15-yard keeper TD.

Late in the half, after an interception by Nick Valentine (his third on the season) at the 31-yard line, Temple hit Dean Landers for a 27-yard gain, and Brooks Moutaw scored on a 1-yard run to make it 12-7 with 2:00 left before intermission.

Moutaw finished with just 4 yards on 11 carries as Santana was held to a season-low 171 total yards, well below its average of 340 yards per game.


“Heartbreaking is the only word that comes to mind,” Moutaw said. “I can’t say we didn’t give it everything we had. They were just better today.”


Serra was held on downs on its first possession of the second half but then scored on its next four possessions to pound the nails in the coffin.

Santana junior Dean Landers hauls in a reception in the second half. / photo by Ramon Scott

Zebroski got his second and third TDs on runs of 28 and 12 yards to make it 24-7 near the end of the third quarter. Lingao had an 8-yard TD run to go up 31-7, and Ellison finished the scoring with a 12-yard sweep run with 5:23 left.


Serra was forced to interrupt its normal practice schedule this week but offered no excuses. The school had scheduled construction on the running track at Santee Community Stadium last week, but the work was delayed by rain.


A semifinal game against Orange Glen was supposed to be played at El Capitan, but the construction delay allowed the Sultans to play at home, and they won that game, 35-14, to advance to the third championship game in school history.


This week, the Sultans held their practices at the Santee SportsPlex – in the mornings – since school was out for Thanksgiving break.


Santana lost title games in 2011 to Valley Center and 2016 to La Jolla Country Day.


“It’s the third time I’ve been here, and we just can’t seem to get it done,” Estes said. “It was a bad day. I honestly thought this would be a closer game than it was, and either team could have won.

Santana senior Randall Smith makes a reception in the second half on Friday at DeVore Stadium. / photo by Ramon Scott

“Serra prepared well and played a great physical football game. They made plays they needed to, and we didn’t.


“I’m proud of my guys for battling. I couldn’t be prouder. It just wasn’t our day.”


Serra came into the game with 47 sacks and now has 57. Curry had five sacks and now has eight. Cooper had eight and now has 10. Willie Peterson, Kyle Simpson, Keoni Lamoreaux, Lingao and Nathan Meyers each recorded a sack. It was No. 15 for Meyers.


Santana’s Michael Richter came in with 19½ sacks. The Sultans did not have a sack on Friday, but Richter finished with 13 tackles. Nathan Hughes added 10 and Cameron LaRiccia eight.


Jared Forster led all receivers with eight catches for 61 yards. Landers had four receptions for 56 yards, and Ethan Wright added four for 34 yards. Randy Smith caught three balls for 48 yards and had an apparent 43-yard TD called back on a holding penalty late in the first half that would have given the Sultans a halftime lead.


“That was a big momentum swing for us,” Estes said. “We needed that one right there.


“Bottomline, we had some opportunities and didn’t capitalize. My hat’s off to Serra. They were able to run the football better than we expected and played a better game than us.”

Santana Sportsmanship Award winner Donnie Kelly.


Serra   6 6 12 13 – 37

Santana 0 7  0 0  – 7

Serra – Brevin Lingao 12 run (run failed)

Serra – Timmy Zebroski 15 run (kick blocked)

Santana – Brooks Moutaw 1 run (Nathan Hughes kick)

Serra – Timmy Zebroski 28 run (run failed)

Serra – Timmy Zebroski 12 run (pass failed)

Serra – Brevin Lingao 8 run (Mike Skverna kick)

Serra – Dustan Ellison 12 run (kick failed)

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