Thoughts on wild CIF-SS Central Division football title for Kaiser

Kaiser’s crazy 28-21 win over Moreno Valley Rancho Verde to capture the CIF-SS Central Division championship was an incredible game that came down to the wire.
There was so much going on in that game, I would say I don’t know where to start. But rather, I know where to start, but I just don’t want to miss anything.
Of course, you start with the winning touchdown.

Marquette Washington runs for 18 yards, then pitches to quarterback Raymond Padilla, coming up on his left, who streaks the remaining 45 yards for the touchdown with 1:08 to play in the game.
Some thoughts on the play: incredible hustle by Padilla to be alongside Washington, incredible anticipation by Washington that Padilla would be there and good communication so the pitch wasn’t botched. These were clearly 2 teammates who trusted each other. Washington rushed for 269 yards in the game, but he will clearly be most remembered in the game for making that pitch to Padilla.
Don’t forget the two huge interceptions Weslee Lewis had for Kaiser, both at the goal line and both in the final minute of the half. The foremost one came when he intercepted Sherrion Jones with 27.1 seconds left, sealing the victory. But in the waning moments of the first half with the score tied 7-7, Lewis intercepted a pass with 16.1 seconds left that could’ve given Rancho Verde the halftime lead and all the momentum.
Don’t forget about where this Kaiser team was earlier in the season. They struggled in some nonleague games against teams that didn’t make the playoffs. Then the Cats lost in their league opener to Summit 29-7. And the prevailing thought for many was that Kaiser was decent, but was not only going to finish 2nd but the Cats would bow out early in the playoffs. Kaiser knew league wasn’t going to happen, but kept its hopes alive for another CIF title. I think having that Summit game as early as Week 6 allowed Kaiser to refocus before the playoffs.

Some thoughts on the game:

  1. The 21 points allowed by Kaiser were the second most allowed by the team all year, second only to the 29 points allowed in the loss to Summit. The last time Kaiser allowed at least 21 points on the road and still won the game, it was Week 9 of the 2006 season and Kaiser won at Riverside Norte Vista, 24-21.
  2. Kaiser won the game by completing just one of five passes for seven yards (it was for a TD), while Rancho Verde completed 21 of 36 passes by two quarterbacks for 309 yards, with two touchdowns but with three costly interceptions: 2 by Kaiser’s Lewis and another by Raymond Vera, early in the third quarter.
  3. This game was tied for 38 minutes, 4 seconds, while one team had a lead for just 9:56. The longest a lead was held was Kaiser’s 14-7 lead in the second half, for 5:50. The shortest a lead was held, was the final 1:08. The longest tie? At 7-7 for 23:30 from the first two third quarters.
  4. Remember, Kaiser this year bumped up into a division (from the Eastern Division) that is supposed to be tougher than its old one and was playing a team that was playing in its third consecutive CIF-SS championship game and was defending champion. And still won. On the road, no less.
  5. This has been coach Phil Zelaya’s team for a while after taking over for Dick Bruich, but a CIF title really cements his legacy. Especially one done with a group that is not dominated by big-name recruits.

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