Charter Oak, a late entry into the 30-team Bonita Air Assault passing competition, beat Valencia in the championship game on Saturday night at Bonita High School.
Led by quarterback Travis Santiago, the Chargers went 9-0 in the two-day tournament. They went 5-0 in pool play on Friday, then returned on Saturday as the No. 1 seed.
“I blame it all on my son (offensive coordinator Dominic Farr),” Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar said in reference to his team being a late entry into the tournament.
“On Wednesday, we threw at Oaks Christian, 65 miles away from campus, and it worked out real well for us. The next thing I know, Dominic and (defensive coordinator) Roger Lehigh called (Bonita coach and tournament organizer) Eric Podley and got us in this tournament.”
The Chargers were the only local team in the semifinals, which included traditional Southland stalwarts Loyola, Upland and Valencia. Charter Oak beat Loyola in the semis. The Chargers were one of 12 Valley or Whittier-area teams in the tournament.
“We don’t really look at the competition as much as we look our team and team’s growth,” Farrar said. “Coach Lehigh was really impressed with his kids. Coach Dom is really happy with Travis and the way he’s hooking up with his receivers.
“Something’s growing, I can feel it. After all these years, I just see something happening. We’ve got some kids who weren’t at the top of my Christmas list last winter and spring, but they’re starting to buy into the program. I’m happy to see this kind of growth with our kids.”
In addition to Santiago, Farrar also cited the play of receiver Chris Gilchrist, corner back Kurt Scoby and safety Khari Garcia as being key to Charter Oak’s success this weekend.
Two seasons ago, Charter Oak won the second of back-to-back CIF Southeast Division championship. Last season, the Chargers were moved into the Sierra League and Inland Division and finished 6-5 overall.
Aram’s take: This has become the Summer of Santiago. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Santiago and when I’ve seen him, he’s impressed. This was a nice win for CO. But I can’t help but ask myself “Didn’t we already know CO had skill guys?” Maybe these guys are going to be even better than we thought. But skill guys aren’t the X factor for CO, linemen are. Line, line, line. If CO has a line to go with these skill guys, then we may be looking at a Sierra League champ and the unthinkable — a first-round win in the Inland playoffs. Anyway, you can expect both Santiago and CO to move up my QB and team rankings, respectively. There were some good names in this tourney and CO wowed a lot of people. It’s only passing league, but for June 25 it doesn’t get any better.