TEMECULA -- Nick Marino connected on three touchdown passes Friday night, as Linfield Christian blanked Calvary Murrieta, 43-0, to wrap up Ambassador League play.
With the win, the Lions officially capture second place in the Ambassador league, and will find themselves in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.
After last season's undefeated 10-0 regular season record that led to a section championship, Linfield reached the postseason in 2010 by way of a different road. The Lions (6-4, 4-1) entered league play this year with a 2-3 record and on the heels of back-to-back defeats. Five weeks later, the Lions have won four of their last five.
"It's been an up-and-down year; we started with 26 guys on our roster and five of those guys had season-ending injuries," Linfield head coach Jimmy Kemmis said. "After what we were blessed with last year, we definitely have had to fight to finish the way we did this season. There is nothing better than to come out and finish it with a victory over your cross-town rival on senior night."
Sophomore Chasen Crowell gave Linfield its first score of the night in the first quarter, catching a 25-yard pass from Marino. Crowell then duplicated his feat early in second quarter, this time with a 46-yard touchdown catch that put the Lions up 13-0.
Linfield then added to its lead in the second quarter with a 25-yard field goal from Angela Brown, a rushing touchdown from Marino and a 2-yard touchdown reception by Ryan Geach that put the home team up 29-0 at the break.
Kemmis was quick to praise his line after the game.
"We knew going into this year that our strength was going to be the big boys up front, and those five have been able to stay healthy," Kemmis said. "Patrick Blaylock was the senior leader and driving force on that line. He is a four-year starter, has won eight playoff games, and is a three-year all-league player."
Marino finished his night going 9-for-17 in the air for 194 yards, while collecting an interception on defense. Linfield made five interceptions in the contest.
"We were really able to get our game together in the second half of the season," Marino said. "We really tried to focus more in practice and took it a lot more seriously. This feels great tonight."
Anthony Simeone led Linfield's rushing game with 19 carries for 86 yards, while Zach Chesser was the leading rusher for Calvary Murrieta (1-9, 0-5) with four carries for 18 yards.
It was the 40th win for Jimmy Kemmis and staff since he became Linfield head coach in 2006. Kemmis can relate to Calvary Murrieta's rough season, as he went an identical 1-9 in his first year as head coach with the Lions.
"Finishing that first year the way we did, and now five years later having a record of 40-19, it says a lot about our players and our coaching staff," Kemmis said. "I'm really proud of everyone. I'm on cloud nine."