Follow tonight’s game on twitter with Steve Ramirez at: @SteveRRamirez
By Steve Ramirez, SGVN
Rio Hondo Prep, since losing to Mission Prep in late August, thought about nothing but getting revenge on the Royals and winning the CIF-Southern Section Northeast Division football title.
The Kares, after beating Mission Prep, 28-21, last week and accomplishing that goal, now are looking for a little bit more.
They get their chance tonight when they travel to San Diego to face Santa Fe Christian, of Solana Beach, at 7 in a CIF State South Region Division IV Bowl game at Del Norte High School.
The winner advances to face either McClymonds, of Oakland, or Central Catholic, of Modesto, in the CIF State Division IV Bowl, slated for next Friday at 4 p.m. at Home Depot Center in Carson.
“We’re just happy to be here,” said Rio Hondo Prep Ken Drain, whose Kares, after scoring the school’s 14th CIF-SS title, are shooting for their first state championship. “I never thought we’d get this far. A couple of weeks ago, we were about sixth in the (state) polls for state playoffs. It’s not like we were thinking we were going to make it. It kind of fell together, with all the teams above us losing and we made it in.
“It’s a big plus for us. Our whole basketball team is on the football team, so that makes things a little difficult for basketball. But that’s all right, we can live with that, because getting to this state playoff thing is pretty cool.”
But first the Kares (12-1) must take care of business and Santa Fe Christian (10-3), which won San Diego Section Division V, offers quite a challenge.
The Eagles, who run a variety of offensive sets, including an option attack and Wing-T alignment, feature one of the top running attacks in San Diego. It’s led by junior Tony Miro, who has run for 1,057 yards and 14 touchdowns. but the attack also includes senior quarterback Hunter Vaccaro, who has run for 785 and 14 scores, and senior Conor Keith, who has 581 yards and seven touchdowns.
Vaccaro has also thrown for 793 yards and eight scores.
“They’re a good team, obviously, otherwise they wouldn’t be here,” Drain said. “They run an option offense. They are a combination of Big Bear, Flintridge Prep and Boron. They’ll run most of the time, kind of like we do. They run it really well, and don’t make a lot of mistakes.
“Defensively, they’re solid. They crowd it in, put eight, nine guys in the box and look to stop the run. I’m sure they will do that against us, which is OK. Colby (Rivera) is a good quarterback and we have some good receivers, so if we have to throw that’s fine.”
Rivera has been steady all season, throwing for 1,474 yards and 19 touchdowns. Receiver Jake Holguin has 36 receptions for 529 yards and nine scores.
But the key again will rest with running back Nate Tayco, who has averaged close to 200 yards a game in the playoffs, including 171 and four touchdowns against Mission Prep last week. He has run for 1,665 yards and 29 touchdowns for the season.
“I’m sure they’ll try to take the run away,” Drain said. “We’ll probably try to run first and see what happens. If we’re not getting anywhere, we’ll start opening it up.”