Lancers stop Eagles’ shot at perfection

2021 EAST COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL

CARLSBAD 63, GRANITE HILLS 14

 

By Jim Lindgren 

EL CAJON – Granite Hills took a shot. And why not?

If No. 5 Granite Hills could somehow pull off an upset over No. 2 Carlsbad, the Eagles could squawk all the way to next season as being the only 6-0 team in the San Diego Section in the abbreviated spring season of 2021.

The roll of the dice turned up snake eyes, however, as Carlsbad tallied early and often in a 63-14 blowout Friday in front of about 400 fans at Valley Stadium.

“They’re big. They’re fast. They’re disciplined,” Eagles coach Kellan Cobbs said. “They’re everything we’re striving to be, but we’re not there yet.”

Carlsbad (5-0) whipped its four Avocado League opponents and then Granite Hills (5-1) to post a 233-35 scoring margin. It’s a shame the Lancers won’t get a chance to play No. 1 Cathedral Catholic (5-0) for the Open Division championship.

There are no playoffs this season, a condition deemed necessary by the National Federation that maintains players need a 90-day rest period before the start of practice on July 30 for next season.

“We think we’re a great team,” Carlsbad senior quarterback Aidan Sayin said. “In a season like this, it’s great to go out with a win.”

Carlsbad lost its last game in 2019, 28-21, to Helix in the Open Division championship at Southwestern College. The week before, the Lancers beat Cathedral, 21-20, in the semifinals.

“People are saying they’re the second-best team, but they beat Cathedral last time they played,” Cobbs pointed out.

Sayin was sensational in his final game. The senior who will play for Penn in the summer was 13-of-16 passing for 285 yards and five touchdowns. He threw for 255 yards as the Lancers built a 42-14 lead before halftime. He threw only once more – a 30-yard TD strike to Tyler Norte to make it 49-14 after 1:31 of the second half.

“Coach gave us a great game plan,” Sayin said. “When I had my chance, I was ready.”

All in the first half, Mazlo Norwood scored on a 6-yard run, a 63-yard screen pass from Sayin, and a 36-yard sideline screen from Sayin to finish with four catches for 107 yards and 29 rushing yards on five carries.

Nolte caught two TD passes – 31 and 30 yards – and finished with five catches for 85 yards. Josh Davis caught two TD passes – 23 and 40 yards – and finished with four catches for 83 yards.

Matt Moore enjoyed the most interesting evening. Early in the second quarter, he recovered a fumble at the 31-yard line. On the next play, Moore took a handoff from Sayin for what appeared to be a sweep right. Moore pulled up, however, and fired a long strike to Nolte for a 31-yard TD and a 28-0 lead 1:57 into the second quarter.

The rout was on, and Moore wasn’t done. In the third quarter, he intercepted a pass and returned it 44 yards to the 12-yard line. On the next play, he did sweep left for a 12-yard TD and a 49-14 lead. Moore also had a 12-yard reception and 37 yards on three carries.

“Kind of a complete night for Matt Moore, huh?” MacNeal stated. “Since he didn’t get the TD on the interception, we gave it to him on the next play.”

Granite Hills had not faced a defensive front like Carlsbad all season. The Lancers completely took away the run game and forced Justus McComb to attempt a career-high 45 passes. He completed 22 of them for 254 yards, including a 14-yard TD to Wyatt Henderson. McComb rushed 13 times for 18 yards, including a 2-yard TD.

The Eagles had only 33 rushing yards.

“They were tough up front,” Cobbs said. “We couldn’t get anything going with the run game and were forced to pass way more than we like.”

McComb, the East County player of the year, finished his 6-game season with 1,195 yards and 16 TDs after throwing for 2,691 yards and 24 scores for a 2019 team that was 5-6. This spring, he also rushed for 418 yards and 7 TDs.

“We knew he was a great quarterback,” MacNeal said. “He really runs that offense so well, makes so many great decisions. He has great timing with the pass and run.”

Joaquin Thomas led the Eagles with seven receptions for 77 yards. Henderson also had seven catches for 74 yards and a TD.

Sayin finished his season with 968 passing yards and 13 TDs and did not throw an interception in 81 attempts (59 completions). In 2019, Sayin threw for 2,349 yards and 24 scores with eight interceptions.

Granite Hills (5-1) was supposed to play Grossmont in the season finale, but it would have been the second meeting against Grossmont. The Eagles won the first time, 20-7, on March 26. Carlsbad had a scheduled bye and was desperately looking for a final game all season.

The opportunity revealed itself after a slew of COVID-19 cancellations over the past two weeks. Long story short, Grossmont found a game against Santa Fe Christian when Classical Academy had to pause for a positive COVID test. Carlsbad was ecstatic to find such a worthy opponent in Granite Hills and even agreed to travel the hour or so to get to El Cajon.

Symbolic of this strange season was the fact the football game started 30 minutes late on account of a lengthy girls’ soccer game in which Valhalla beat Granite Hills 2-1. Normally, football (fall) and soccer (winter) do not overlap.

Carlsbad wasted little time setting the tone in the football game. On their first possession, the Lancers drove 71 yards in five plays and took a 7-0 lead on terrific post pattern pass from Sayin to Davis.

The Eagles got a fumble recovery on Carlsbad’s next drive, but the Lancers scored on each of next seven series.

Midway through the third quarter, Sayin was replaced at QB by his younger brother, freshman Julian Sayin. To finish the scoring, the younger Sayin slung a long pass down the right sideline that senior Bryson Wayne-Doyle hauled in for a 37-yard TD. It was his first catch (and TD) of his career. It was Julian’s second TD pass.

“With a team like this, you want to keep playing,” MacNeal said. “Great chemistry. Great bunch of kids.”

Since opening in 1957, Carlsbad’s last of six section championships came in 2006 when the Lancers were 10-0-2 under Bob McAllister. The Lancers were perfect this spring, surprising even its head coach.

“This team has exceeded my expectations,” MacNeal said. “We only had three starters back from the Open championship team a year ago. And now we have eight juniors on defense. It’s a fun team. Everyone gets along wonderfully, and they have worked so hard for so long to get here.”

Granite Hills opened in 1960 and has lost both section titles games it has played – 1979 under Paul Wargo and 1975 under Dwight Morris. The Eagles have been 6-0 five other times during the course of a regular season, but they have never finished undefeated.

 

Shortly after the lone loss on Friday – fittingly to cap this delayed pandemic abbreviated spring season – the lights suddenly and literally shut off at Valley Stadium. Players, coaches and fans from both schools had to find their way to the parking lots in the dark.

CARLSBAD 63, GRANITE HILLS 14 

Carlsbad     14 28 14 7 – 63  

Granite Hills 0 14 0  0 – 14  

C – Josh Davis 23 pass from Aidan Sayin (Aaron Harris kick)

C – Mazlo Norwood 6 run (Aaron Harris kick)

C – Josh Davis 40 pass from Aidan Sayin (kick blocked)

C – Tyler Nolte 31 pass from Matt Moore (Anthony Ferrelli pass from Aidan Sayin)

GH – Wyatt Henderson 14 pass from Justus McComb (Gavin Armstrong kick)

C – Mazlo Norwood 63 pass from Aidan Sayin (Aaron Harris kick)

GH – Justus McComb 2 run (Gavin Armstrong kick)

C – Mazlo Norwood 36 pass from Aidan Sayin (Aaron Harris kick)

C – Tyler Nolte 30 pass from Aidan Sayin (Aaron Harris kick)

C – Matt Moore 12 run (Aaron Harris kick)

C – Bryson Wayne-Doyle 37 pass from Julian Sayin (Aaron Harris kick)

RUSHING 

Carlsbad – Matt Moore 3-37-0, Aidan Sayin 3-34-0, Mazlo Norwood 5-29-1, Christian Saren 2-19-0, Tyler Swartz 1-14-0, Paulo Burak 2-11-0, Julian Sayin 1-6-0. Granite Hills – Justus McComb 13-18-1, Austin McVey 3-9-0, Davion Green 2-8-0, Darius Hewitt 2-2-0, Wyatt Henderson 1-(-4)-0.

PASSING 

Carlsbad – Aidan Sayin 13-16-285-0 (5 TDs), Julian Sayin 3-5-53-0 (TD), Matt Moore 1-1-31-0 (TD). Granite Hills – Justus McComb 22-45-254-1 (TD).

RECEIVING 

Carlsbad – Tyler Nolte 5-85-2, Mazlo Norwood 4-107-2, Josh Davis 4-83-2, Bryson Wayne-Doyle 1-37-1, Michael Ryan 1-24-0, Paulo Burak 1-20-0, Matt Moore 1-12-0.

Granite Hills – Joaquin Thomas 7-77-0, Wyatt Henderson 7-74-1, Joshua Zander 4-30-0, Zach Burton 1-8-0, Juan Carlson Abarca 1-24-0, Austin McVey 1-24-0, Angel Almazan 1-2-0.

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS 

Carlsbad – Matt Moore, fumble recovery, interception; Barrett Brennan, batted pass; Aaron Harris, 7-8 PAT. Granite Hills – Dalton Sexton, blocked PAT; Zach Burton, batted pass; Team, fumble recovery; Gavin Armstrong 2-2 PAT.

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