The area’s Elite Eight were fantastic in their playoff openers, with seven pulling out victories. Santa Fe was the lone loser, but the Chiefs died hard, giving up a late touchdown on a fumble to bow out.
La Mirada was the big winner, notching its seventh consecutive mercy-rule win with a 49-6 victory over Paso Robles. The win sets up a championship rematch with La Serna, a 41-34 winner over Serrano, in next week’s quarterfinals. La Habra might have had the biggest win of the night, with an upset of No. 3 seed Oaks Christian in Division 2. St. Paul also scores its first playoff win in nine seasons by besting Monrovia.
LA MIRADA 49, PASO ROBLES 6
LA MIRADA — The CIF Southern Section created a new format for football playoff divisions in hopes of producing more competitive games.
Top-seeded La Mirada didn’t get the memo.
Tristan Meyer threw three first-half touchdowns and the host Matadores forced two fumbles and held Paso Robles to 119 yards en route to a 49-6 victory over the Bearcats in a Division 3 first-round game on Friday.
Anthony Melendez scored two rushing TDs and Elijah Hicks had a 46-yard TD reception and returned a punt 56 yards for another score for the Matadores (9-2), who will host La Serna, a 41-34 winner over Serrano, next Friday in the quarterfinals. La Mirada scored a 45-20 win over the Lancers for the Southeast Division crown last season.
Steven Schouten threw for 77 yards and a touchdown for Paso Robles (8-3).
The second half was played with a running clock.
La Mirada coach Mike Moschetti: “That was a weird game. We talked all week that we wanted to get turnovers off special teams and in the first half we (forced two fumbles), and then it just kind of snow-balled, before you knew it we were up, 35-0. Our defense flew around, our offensive line got off the ball. It seemed like we got every break (in the first half), but the kids stayed focused.”
La Mirada’s Tristan Meyer: “We don’t go into games thinking we’re going to win. We respect the opponent. But today, we just had a good game.”
— Stephen Ramirez
ST. PAUL 54, MONROVIA 42
MONROVIA — It’s anybody’s guess as to what St. Paul High School football coach Rick Zepeda said to his team at halftime, but whatever it was, it worked.
The Swordsmen scored 47 second-half points and rallied from a two-score deficit at halftime to post a 54-42 win over host Monrovia in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 7 playoffs on Friday night.
St. Paul improved to 5-6 and will play No. 1 seed Pacifica in next week’s second round. Monrovia finished 6-5.
Early on, the Swordsmen looked nothing like the team from the considerably tougher league. Monrovia’s pass attack piled up big play after big play and Elijah Hall’s 49-yard touchdown reception on the final play of the first half put Monrovia ahead 21-7 at the break.
St. Paul looked like a different team in the second half, though. The Swordsmen’s scoring barrage started with a 60-yard touchdown run by Anthony Lemos. Moments later, quarterback Alfredo Reyes scored on a 7-yard keeper and it was 21-21.
Monrovia stopped St. Paul’s momentum with a long drive that ended in a Alfonso Castillo 1-yard touchdown run. But St. Paul turned to its top offensive weapon, Nick Redick, and rattled off the next 21 points.
Redick’s 69-yard touchdown run on the first play after Castillo’s score put the Swordsmen ahead for good at 28-27. But he wasn’t done. Following a blocked punt that led to good field position, Redick scored on a 19-yard run for a 35-27 lead.
More Monrovia special teams problems, this time a bad snap on a punt, gave St. Paul good field position again and Redick capitalized with a 15-yard touchdown for a 42-27 lead with 8:26 left.
— Aram Tolegian
LA SERNA 41, SERRANO 34
WHITTIER — In a first-round CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoff game featuring plenty of offense, it was an interception by La Serna High junior cornerback Calvin Salcido with no time remaining that preserved a 41-34 win over visiting Serrano on Friday.
The Lancers will face La Mirada, a 49-6 winner over Paso Robles, next Friday in a second-round game.
It will be the seventh consecutive second-round appearance for the Lancers.
It was a 12-yard touchdown run by senior running back Brandon Jimenez (10 carries, 62 yards) with 48 seconds left in the game that gave La Serna the win.
Senior running back Matthew Marshall ran for a game-high 219 yards and three touchdowns.
In the first half, the two teams combined for seven touchdowns, with the Lancers taking their first lead of the game, 28-24, after an interception by senior outside linebacker Stevie Osorio at the Diamondbacks’ 25-yard line.
Marshall ran for 166 yards on 10 carries in the first half and scored three of the Lancers’ four TDs, including a 73-yard run late in the first quarter.
La Serna coach Andy George: “It was a battle on both sides, and we showed our resolve and kept our composure and kept playing.”
La Serna’s Brandon Jimenez: “It’s a great victory for all of us, but we are up to the challenge of what’s in front of us.”
— John Sherrard
LA HABRA 35, OAKS CHRISTIAN 28
WESTLAKE VILLAGE — Not even torrential traffic on the 101 freeway could stop La Habra in its quest for another section title Friday night.
Despite being stiff and a bit restless after a long bus ride, the Highlanders made no excuses and knocked off Oaks Christian, 35-28, in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 2 playoffs.
The Lions were able to strike first with Matt Corral finding Colby Parkinson over the middle for the game’s first touchdown. The senior had two touchdowns but Oaks Christian did not have an answer for running back Madison Wheeler.
Wheeler had 35 carries for 215 yards, including 130 yards in the first half. Used primarily as a safety through most of the regular season, Wheeler ran downhill the entire night. His 1-yard carry tied the game with 2:15 left in the second.
In the fourth quarter, after Mycah Pittman caught a tipped pass to tie the score at 21-21, Highlanders QB Zack Fogel found Derrick Corso in the end zone to tie the game at 28-28 with 6:32 left in the game and then to Prince Ross for the go-ahead TD.
Corso sealed the deal with his second pick of the game with 45.2 seconds left as La Habra advanced to the Southern Section quarterfinals.
La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta: “That was a great football game.”
La Habra’s Derrick Corso: “We opened it up and they couldn’t handle us.”
— Ethan Hanson
BECKMAN 38, SANTA FE 34
IRVINE — Santa Fe High school put on quite a second half comeback, but fell in the final minutes to Beckman, of Irvine, 38-34 in the opening round of the CIF Southern Section Division 10 playoffs Friday night at Irvine High.
Beckman moves on to the second round and will travel to Rubidoux, which beat Viewpoint.
Beckman (7-4) took a 38-34 lead when it recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown following a 2-yard Patriot run with 1:47 left in the game.
Santa Fe (5-6) drove to the Beckman 41 trying to to take the lead. But Liam Molina intercepted a pass with 25 seconds left.
The Chiefs were able to rally from a 31-21 halftime deficit. Santa Fe moved ahead 34-31 when quarterback Christian Tolar connected with Dylan Thomas on a 14-yard TD pass with 9:31 left in the game.
— Tim Burt
EL RANCHO 42, NORWALK 26
Gabriel Huerta scored El Rancho’s first four touchdowns and the Dons (5-6) knocked off the Lancers (7-4) in a battle of two third-place teams in a Division 9 game at Excelsior Adult School .
El Rancho will play No. 1 Valley Christian of Cerritos in the second round.
MONTEBELLO 38, COACHELLA VALLEY 14
Gabriel Tapia threw a 39-yard touchdown pass with 48 seconds to play in the first half and the host Oilers (10-1) rallied for the Division 11 victory.
Almont League champion Montebello took a 10-7 lead with the TD pass and scored 21 unanswered points in the third quarter to defeat the Arabs (8-3).
The third-seeded Oilers will play at Covina in the second round. The Colts defeated Victorville in overtime, 18-17.
SCHURR 56, FILLMORE 10
The Spartans managed to make it a running clock in the second half of the Division 12 game in Fillmore.
Schurr (8-3) will play top seed Arroyo in the second round. The Frontier League champion Flash finishes 4-7.
— Staff report
NEXT WEEK’S QUARTERFINALS
All games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Redlands East Valley (9-2) at La Habra (7-4)
La Serna (8-3) at No. 1 La Mirada (9-2)
No. 1 Pacifica (9-2) at St. Paul (5-6)
No. 1 Cerritos Valley Chr. (9-2) at El Rancho (5-6)
No. 3 Montebello (10-1) vs. Covina (7-4) at Covina District Field
No. 1 Arroyo (10-1) at Schurr (8-3)