Poway defender Jonathan Petersen tries to tackle Oceanside slotback Thai Cottrell, who caught eight passes for 74 yards in the Pirates’ win over the Titans in September.
On Sept. 21, Oceanside High defeated Poway 23-13 in what looked like little more than a nonleague football game at Poway in the fourth week of the regular season.
It turns out, it was much more than that.
The Pirates built a 23-0 halftime lead before Poway rallied with 13 second-half points while shutting out Oceanside.
That was nine weeks and eight games ago and, at the time, no one had any idea that was just the beginning.
What makes that first meeting a bit more interesting is both teams have another, more important, meeting on Saturday at 7:35 p.m. at Escondido High.
Top-seeded Oceanside (11-1) will play No. 3 Poway (10-2) again, but this time there is much more at stake — the San Diego Section Division II championship.
As the saying goes, it’s awfully difficult to beat the same team twice in one season because all the momentum is with the team that lost.
“That game was so long ago, I don’t think it means much,” Oceanside coach John Carroll said. “Maybe if we played in week 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 it would be more relevant.
“You can’t change much of anything whether you won or lost. Take your best shot with your best stuff. Poway is a better team now and so are we, so why change anything?”
But Carroll acknowledged he has spoken to his team about becoming complacent this time because of the earlier victory at Poway.
“I have heard murmurs from the players about being aware this time is different and that last time won’t affect the outcome of this one,” Carroll said. “We have had several discussions about not putting too much emphasis on beating them so long ago.”
Poway, last year’s Division I champion before moving down to Division II because of an enrollment drop, has not lost a game since that night. The Titans’ win streak is now eight games.
Oceanside brings a 10-game winning streak into the game.
Poway is not the only team with some extra incentive. Oceanside had won seven straight Division II section championships, along with two state bowl titles, before being hammered in last year’s finals by eventual state bowl champion Helix.
The 44-6 pasting has stuck with the Pirates.
“Helix embarrassed us in front of family, friends and fans,” Oceanside safety Ryshaud Keegan said. “I’m not going out like last year’s seniors, with that taste in my mouth.
“By beating them the first time we have confidence because we know what they can do, we’ve seen what they like to do.
“When I watch film of them I’m trying to think of what’s in the back of the playbook, that play they didn’t use the first time. We talked before practice about the hook-and-ladder, stuff like that.”
Oceanside lineman C.J. Velasco admitted he wants just one thing this weekend.
“I want my ring back,” he said. “The one thing the first game taught us was we have to finish. We almost learned that the hard way.”
Being the underdog puts Poway in the position of having less pregame pressure.
The nonleague loss has established Oceanside as the favorite.
“Losing the first game makes you looser,” said Poway coach Damian Gonzalez, whose team reached the finals by beating Helix 21-7 last Friday. “We already know what worked well for them and what didn’t. Same for us.
“It’s the same situation when we played Westview in the playoffs. We had just beaten them 45-0 and we actually worked the kids harder for the second game to make sure they didn’t take Westview lightly.
“I can guarantee Oceanside won’t take us lightly.”
Poway quarterback Max Washam, a first-year varsity player who got into last year’s championship game for three snaps at the end, is looking forward to a second meeting.
He, by his own admission, had a terrible game against Oceanside. His 7 of 19 passing effort for 41 yards also included three interceptions.
“I can’t play much worse, but at least I get another shot at them,” Washam said. “We want to show them we’re not that 23-0 team at halftime but the team that shut them out the second half.
“In the first game, we learned all about their speed and physicalness. There were a couple of times they were in the backfield so quickly I couldn’t figure out how they did that.
“Ask anyone on the street who’ll win and they’ll pick Oceanside. Ask anyone on this team and they’ll tell you we’re going to win.”"