Kiel Robinson leads a tough defense for top-seeded Mission Hills.
Eastlake vs. Mission Hills
When: Friday, 7:35 p.m.
Where: Escondido High.
TV: Time Warner 411, Cox 4.
Coach: John McFadden, 13th year.
Players to watch: Aaron Baltazar, who is committed to Boise State, has 187 carries for 1,713 yards and 20 TDs. He averages 9.1 yards a carry and has 472 yards on 40 carries in playoff wins over Torrey Pines and Grossmont. Tavarus Green follows with 84 carries for 530 yards and 16 TDs. QB Tyrone Stevens has completed 74 of 143 passes for 1,285 yards with six TDs and six interceptions. Defensively, the Titans are led by linebackers Blake Wilson, Keifer Graham and Nassar Ali, cornerback Isiah Olave and Baltazar, who plays strong safety.
Season summary: The Titans’ losses are to Helix (28-6), St. Augustine (42-28) and Olympian (35-24) — two teams that reached the San Diego Section division semifinals and a Saints squad that is playing for the Division III title. The Titans have won three games in a row, outscoring Otay Ranch, Torrey Pines and Grossmont 114-53. Eastlake has scored 40-plus points in three games and 50-plus in three others.
Quotable: “This is basically a home game for Mission Hills,” McFadden said. “Heck, it’s about 5 miles from Mission Hills to Escondido. But we’re the two teams that won’t be knocked out of our regular routine. We’ll treat it as a normal road game. And we played at Escondido High early in the season, so we know what to expect.”
Championship past: Eastlake burst on the championship scene in 2009, beating Vista 21-14 for the Division I title. RB Tony Jefferson, who is now at Oklahoma, led the team with 223 carries for 1,995 yards while QB D’Angelo Barksdale threw for 2,130 yards.
Need to know: The Titans will have the longest trip of any of the 10 San Diego Section finalists, traveling about 50 miles. Travel time, barring traffic, will be just about 60 minutes.
Coach: Chris Hauser, ninth year.
Players to watch: QB Connor Wynn is the headliner on offense. The junior has completed 151 of 216 passes for 2,100 yards. He has thrown 20 TD passes and been intercepted just twice. WR Brad Sochowski has 50 receptions. RB Anthony Bautista has stepped in and filled the void when Dakota Westbrook was injured near midseason. On defense, the Grizzlies are rock solid, allowing just 1,017 rushing yards. The leaders on defense are lineman Connor Moore, LBs Ricky Luichan and Kiel Robinson and DBs Chad Nolan, Devin Holiday and Dechaun Holiday.
Season summary: Mission Hills’ only losses are to an 11-1 Mission Viejo team and 11-1 Oceanside, which plays Poway for the Division II title. The Grizzlies have shut out four opponents — Escondido (35-0), San Pasqual (24-0), Fallbrook (35-0) and San Marcos (42-0). And they held Rancho Bernardo and Carlsbad to seven points. Since losing to Oceanside (26-17), Mission Hills has won seven in a row, outscoring those opponents 261-38.
Quotable: “We’re fortunate that we have a normal schedule (today),” Hauser said. “Except for a minor time tweak, we’ll do everything the way we would normally do for a Friday game.”
Championship past: The Grizzlies have been to seven straight semifinals, including a 21-0 loss to eventual Division II champion Helix last season. Mission Hills lost to Oceanside (26-7) in the Division II championship game in 2007 and Oceanside (47-10) in 2010.
Need to know: Mission Hills has the shortest trip to the championship site, a little over 5 miles and under 10 minutes. The team bus doesn’t even have to get on a freeway.
Mission Hills 31, Eastlake 21.
-- John Maffei
Poway vs. Oceanside
When: Saturday, 7:35 p.m.
Where: Escondido High.
TV: Time Warner 411.
Coach: Damian Gonzalez, ninth year.
Players to watch: QB Max Washam has completed 91 of 171 passes for 1,117 yards. RB Nehemiah Gross is a load, rushing for 1,259 yards and 21 TDs on 177 carries. It’s on defense where Poway really shines. The Titans have outscored opponents 371-100. The team has three shutouts and has held five other teams to seven or fewer points. The Titans had six players named first-team All-Palomar League — Jonathan Petersen, Alec Moreno, Max Michaels, Conor Flanagan, Derek Babiash and Ryan Sharpe.
Season summary: The Titans are the defending Division I champions. After a 2-2 start this season, Poway has won eight games in a row, outscoring those eight teams 287-54. The Titans lost to Oceanside 23-13 in Week 4. In the playoffs, Poway beat Westview (31-0) in the quarterfinals and stunned No. 2-seeded Helix (21-7) in the semifinals. The Titans forced four turnovers in that game.
Quotable: “This is unique, dropping from the Division I champion and trying to win back-to-back titles now as a Division II champion,” Gonzalez said. “The kids are really excited to be going to the ‘E.’ We’re competing against a very good Oceanside team that handled us pretty well in the first meeting.”
Championship past: The Titans were the Division I champions last season, beating Vista 56-0 in the title game. Shrinking enrollment has dropped the Titans to Division II. Poway beat Rancho Buena Vista 21-7 to win the Division I title in 2007. Prior to that, Poway lost 32-13 to Oceanside in the 1963 1A game and 12-3 to Morse in the 1992 3A game.
Need to know: Poway’s 56 points in last year’s Division I title game were the most points and the largest margin of victory for any team in a championship game above Division IV.
Coach: John Carroll, 24th year.
Players to watch: QB Tofi Paopao, in his third year as the starter, is the unquestioned leader of the Pirates. He has completed 143 of 240 passes for 2,458 yards with 22 TDs and five interceptions. Multitalented Thai Cottrell has 752 yards and 11 TDs on 60 rushes and 606 yards and seven TDs on 37 receptions. FB/LB William Gulley gets the tough yards with 96 carries for 573 yards and 18 TDs. He’s also a force on defense. Mikah Holder is the top WR with 39 catches for 787 yards and 11 TDs. PK Fernando Elizarraraz has 58 PATs and 10 field goals.
Season summary: The Pirates have won 10 in a row since a loss to Temecula Chaparral, a game they played without Gulley. Oceanside beat Valhalla 31-28 in the semifinals last week. Before that, Oceanside had outscored its last five opponents 287-9.
Quotable: “I look at this as two heavyweight fighters squaring off,” Carroll said. “Our first game was round one. This is round two. Neither team is the same as in Week 4. I see it as two outstanding teams duking it out.”
Championship past: Oceanside has been to 19 straight semifinals under Carroll. Since 1995, the Pirates have won 11 San Diego Section championships under Carroll, including seven in a row from 2004-2010. And they won state bowl championships in 2007 and 2009. Oceanside lost to Helix in last year’s Division II title game. Since 1962, the Pirates have played in 19 title games, not including this season, winning 11.
Need to know: In Poway’s 23-13 loss to Oceanside, the Titans turned the ball over four times and the Pirates three in a game that featured 16 penalties.
Oceanside 24, Poway 21.
-- John Maffei
Ramona vs. Lincoln
When: Saturday, 3:05 p.m.
Where: Escondido High.
TV: Time Warner 411.
Coach: Damon Baldwin, eighth year.
Players to watch: Do-it-all senior Javier Dominguez has scored eight touchdowns, including three on returns. Junior Nathan Cherek has rushed for 1,204 yards and 16 TDs. Senior Hunter McHargue, who entered the offseason as the third-string quarterback, has been one of the county’s most improved players, passing for 1,293 yards and 14 TDs.
Season summary: Ramona suffered a fourth-quarter meltdown in a season-opening loss to Grossmont before reeling off four straight wins. The Bulldogs then struggled with injuries, losing three straight, but have since gotten healthy. One year after finishing at 1-10, they are riding another four-game winning streak as they enter their first section title game since 1973.
Quotable: “This game right now reminds me a lot of the Stanford-Oregon game,” Baldwin said of a matchup in which Stanford negated Oregon’s speed and won in overtime 17-14 on Nov. 17.
Championship past: Ramona won the Class 1A championship in 1970. The Bulldogs were Class 1A co-champions in 1973.
Need to know: The left sides of the Bulldogs’ helmets this season have featured stickers with a “10” in white — a tribute to former star player Ryan Morgan, who died June 3 following a motorcycle accident.
Coach: David Dunn, second year.
Players to watch: Oregon commit Tyree Robinson has 11 TD catches and five interceptions on defense. Twin brother and fellow Ducks pledge Tyrell Robinson has 103 tackles, 11 sacks and two INTs. Junior Jaechon Murphy has rushed for 12 TDs.
Season summary: Tyree Robinson, who stars on offense, defense and special teams, missed the first three games of the season with an injury. The Hornets are rolling now, having avenged an early-season loss by knocking off previously undefeated Olympian in last week’s semifinals. That victory may be the most impressive by any Division III team this fall.
Quotable: “To come from where we both were last year and to play in this position, honestly, I think the team that wins, the coach should win Coach of the Year,” Dunn said.
Championship past: Lincoln has seven section championships. The last came in 1986.
Need to know: Last year, strength of schedule helped Lincoln (1-8-1 at the time) and Ramona (1-9) into the playoffs, where they met in the first round. The Hornets won 34-7 before falling against eventual champion Cathedral Catholic. This year’s postseason rematch has a very different feel — two winning teams squaring off in the grand finale.
Lincoln 21, Ramona 17.
-- Dennis Lin
St. Augustine vs. Madison
When: Saturday, 10:35 a.m.
Where: Escondido High.
Coach: Richard Sanchez, fourth year.
Players to watch: Junior JoJo Hudson leads the offense, completing 70 percent of his passes for 1,428 yards, 11 TDs and only six interceptions. He is a dual threat running the ball. Freshman Elijah Preston has a good start to what could be an outstanding career rushing total three years from now as he has gained 1,439 yards and scored 13 times. Ryan Herburger leads the defense with 110 tackles this season, but he has plenty of help with the likes of Frank Buncom IV, Ethan Sanchez, Patrick Dixon and freshman Quinn Seau.
Season summary: A two-point loss to Otay Ranch and an eight-point setback to parochial school rival Cathedral Catholic are the only blemishes on a glittering record. The Saints have rolled over two North County opponents, including a 38-21 romp over defending champion Valley Center in the semifinals. A 42-28 win over Eastlake, which is playing in the DI championship, was the most impressive of the season. The Saints have outscored opponents 417-205.
Quotable: “It wasn’t easy from when we started four years ago and I thought I’d made the biggest mistake in my career (going to St. Augustine),” Sanchez said. “Now it’s nothing but sunny skies as I’ve seen some of these kids grow from freshmen to seniors.”
Championship past: First appearance in the championships since 2006 when the Saints beat Point Loma 17-7. St. Augustine has made nine title appearances since 1967, winning in 1970, 2005 and 2006.
Need to know: St. Augustine was a longtime member of Division III, so this is its first time playing for the Division IV title.
Coach: Rick Jackson, ninth year.
Players to watch: A pair of University of Arizona verbal commits lead the way for the Warhawks. Pierre Cormier is averaging better than a first down a carry while gaining 1,779 yards on 168 attempts, scoring on 18 of them. Lee Walker is the team’s No. 1 receiver with 30 catches for 498 yards and 10 TDs and is also the major threat on kicks. Sophomore Kareem Coles took a while to get comfortable behind center but now he’s the leader the Warhawks were looking for, completing 81 of 166 passes for 1,429 yards and 20 TDs against just seven interceptions. He also has rushed for 876 yards and scored six TDs on the ground. Linebacker Keoni Kanoa seems to always be around the ball with 106 tackles, 75 of them solo.
Season summary: The only loss was a 42-28 setback to Valhalla the second week of the season when the Warhawks were without Cormier. Ten straight victories have followed. Included in the 11 wins was a 20-7 victory over Division III finalist Lincoln. The Warhawks have outscored opponents 467-228.
Quotable: “I think it will be a competitive game — one of the best of the weekend,” Jackson said. “We’ve put the pieces of the puzzle together this season. If you’d have told me before the season we were going to be 11-1 at this point, I’d happily have taken it.”
Championship past: Though the school has played football since 1963, winning the section title in 2010 and losing in 2008 have been its only two championship experiences. The 2010 team not only won impressively, it qualified for a state bowl, where it lost to Escalon in a driving rain.
Need to know: This is the fourth straight season Madison has won 10 or more games as Jackson has posted a glittering 72-19-1 career record.
St. Augustine 36, Madison 28.
-- Steve Brand
Francis Parker vs. Santa Fe Christian
When: Friday, 3:35 p.m.
Where: Escondido High.
Coach: John Morrison, 17th year.
Players to watch: Gabe Harrington is 76 yards away from eclipsing 2,000 on the season. Last week against Christian, the senior quarterback tossed four touchdown passes, including the game-winner to Hank Childs, the primary receiving threat. On the ground, Jesse Brookins leads the rushing game. He’s accumulated 1,242 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Season summary: After a 3-3 start, Parker fought its way back from the depths to claim five of the last six games. It earned the Lancers the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.
Quotable: “This is our seventh CIF championship in ten years, so you try not to change much in terms of preparation,” Morrison said. “We try to keep everything as normal as possible leading up to the game.”
Championship past: Two titles. This is Parker’s fourth title-game appearance in five seasons. The Lancers defeated Bishop’s to claim the Division V crown in 2009.
Need to know: Since Week 7 of the regular season, Parker’s spread offense has averaged 39 points per game and has scored at least 35 points in five of those games.
SANTA FE CHRISTIAN
Coach: Nick Ruscetta, fourth year.
Players to watch: Junior running back Tony Miro highlights the misdirection-based Wing-T offense for Santa Fe Christian. He rushed for 976 yards and 14 touchdowns on the year. Another key part in the attack is senior quarterback Hunter Vaccaro, who has accumulated 698 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground while passing for 725 yards and eight TDs.
Season summary: The Eagles cruised through the Coastal League, routing divisional foes by an average of 28 points. They capped their season by earning six consecutive victories, including a 35-17 win over Francis Parker. Their only blemishes came from Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley, Westview and Santa Barbara Bishop Diego.
Quotable: “We’ve had great games with Parker over the years,” Ruscetta said. “I really respect John Morrison and the program he established over the years. I look forward to a great game.”
Championship past: Four titles. The Eagles return to the Division V championship game for the second consecutive year. Christian defeated them 32-29 in 2011.
Need to know: Last week against Horizon, Santa Fe Christian ran wild. The Eagles pounded Horizon’s defense for 403 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 9.37 yards per carry.
Francis Parker 27, Santa Fe Christian 21.
-- Craig Malveaux"