BY JORGE RAMOS
PASADENA — Three-hundred and sixty-four days later the Mayfair high school football team finally found some closure. After Mayfair was eliminated at this same point last season, the Monsoons punched their ticket to the CIF Southern Section Division 7 championship game on Friday night.
A 3-yard touchdown run by Mayfair junior running back CJ Johnson early in the fourth quarter sealed the Monsoons’ 31-14 win over host Muir (9-4), ending the Mustangs’ bid for back-to-back championships after winning the Division 10 title last year.
“It’s an awesome feeling. There were a lot kids that were there that night and we set out not to let that happen again,” Mayfair head coach Derek Bedell said of overcoming last season’s semifinal exit.
Johnson, who finished with two touchdowns, and senior running back Ryan Heredia, carried the bulk of the offensive load for Mayfair (10-3). It will be on the road in the final against El Dorado on Friday or Saturday.
Johnson and Heredia combined for 180 yards on the ground balancing out the Monsoons’ potent passing game.
“There’s a lot of guys on offense … (Johnson) and (Heredia) did an unbelievable job tonight running the football,” Bedell said. “On offense there were a whole bunch of guys who touched the football tonight.”
The Mayfair duo of quarterback Jeremiah Calvin and Chaz Gilbreath combined twice for 78 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
Calvin threw for 163 yards on 7-of-16 passing, two touchdowns and one interception.
Muir’s inconsistency in moving the ball proved costly as the Monsoons outgained the Mustangs 358 yards to 234 yards. The Mustangs especially struggled in the first half where they mustered 84 yards of total offense. The Mustangs relied on its defense to keep the game within striking distance.
After Mayfair forced three straight 3-and-outs to start the game, the Monsoons raced out to a 10-0 lead courtesy of a Calvin 28-yard touchdown pass and a 35-yard field goal. When it looked as if the Monsoons were about to capitalize on a third short-field opportunity, a Calvin pass tipped up by Gillbreath fell into the hands of Muir defensive back Alexander Miller.
Miller ran it back nearly 80 yards before his touchdown was nullified by a holding penalty. Six plays later, Muir running back CJ Bozeman cut the lead to three points, 10-7, with a 3-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.
Muir head coach Lance Mitchell said his team’s struggles to move the ball and put together drives came down to ill-time penalties, stemming from his team’s youth up front. Despite the lackluster offensive output in the first half, Bozeman’s seven-yard touchdown run early in the second half cut the lead to 17-14, and kept the Mustangs within striking distance for most of the third quarter.
“I’m happy about the (effort), but I don’t expect anything different,” Muir head football coach Lance Mitchell said. “I’m excited about the experience they all gained, but we have work to do. I’m looking at next year and who’s gonna be ready to show up.”
John’s two second-half touchdowns sealed Muir’s fate, keeping the Mustangs from making a repeat run to the championship game.