San Pasqual at Torrey Pines- Brian Driscoll is introduced with other Torrey Pines starters prior to the game.
It’s the match prep football fans had hoped for — No. 2-ranked Cathedral Catholic vs. No. 1 Torrey Pines playing Saturday night for the Open Division championship.
Not only is it public school vs. private — schools located 1.8 miles apart on Del Mar Heights Road — it’s wing-T offense vs. wing-T, likely all-county running backs — Shawn Poma of Cathedral vs. Mac Bingham of Torrey Pines.
With Cathedral’s defense allowing just 9.2 points a game, including a pair of shutouts and four other game in which the Dons have allowed seven or fewer points, Saturday’s outcome may hinge on the ability of the Torrey Pines offensive line to open holes for Bingham.
The key to that line is 6-foot-5, 286-pound, Cal-bound left tackle Brian Driscoll.
“Brian has been dominant,” said Torrey Pines coach Ron Gladnick. “He averages seven-eight pancake blocks a week.
“Plus, he’s a leader. He’s not afraid to call out his teammates if there is a mistake. He’s not above critiquing himself.
“And he’s not afraid to act like an adult around kids.”
Driscoll’s teammates on the line include Luke Simsiman, Chuckie Livingston, Alex Brown, Sebastian Carpenter, Payson Campisano and Mohab Wahdan.
“I’m very excited about Saturday,” Driscoll said. “Is this the biggest game of the season? Of course.
“But you try your best to treat it as a normal game, even though you know both sides have a lot riding on it.”
Not only are bragging rights and a San Diego Section title riding on the game, the winner advances to the Southern California Regional, a win away from a state championship.
Cathedral Catholic has a pair of state titles — 2011 and 2016.
“I’ve been asked to be a leader on this team,” Driscoll said. “My job is to pick everyone up.
“We have a great culture of winning at Torrey Pines. We have a great tradition of the seniors taking leadership and passing it down the line. We want everyone to feel comfortable because when you’re comfortable you play better.”
Wahdan, who came to Torrey Pines from Egypt, didn’t know if footballs were pumped or stuffed when he arrived on campus three years ago.
“Brian took me under his wing,” Wahdan said. “He made me feel wanted, comfortable.
“That has meant so much to me — on and off the field.”
Off the field, Driscoll carries a 4.24 GPA and scored a 33 on the ACT where 36 is perfect.
He had college offers from Ivy League schools Brown, Columbia and Princeton as well as USD, Boise State, Washington State, Oregon State and San Diego State.
“I strongly considered the Ivy League, but Cal is one of the top academic institutions in the country and it plays top-flight football in a Power Five conference.
“Playing in the NFL would be amazing, but getting a degree is top priority.”
Coming from a family of engineers, Driscoll said he’s considering a major in chemical engineering because “a lot of chemical engineers go into medicine.”
The 247Sports scouting report on Driscoll reads: “Good footwork for a player his size. Has speed and the ability to pull on runs. Gets on his man quickly. Good motor.”
The knock on Driscoll is that wing-T linemen don’t always flourish in college — or at least take time to adjust because there is so little pass blocking in the wing-T.
“That’s true, we don’t throw the ball a lot,” Driscoll said. “But I don’t think there is a big difference between blocking for the wing-T and blocking for other offenses.
“I like to pull, like to trap block. I think I’m athletic enough to pull and block on the outside on a linebacker or safety, but strong enough to take on a defensive end or tackle because those blocks require good footwork.
“I think I’m quick off the ball. I can pull and get down field.
“Certainly, there will be some adjustments. I’m sure Cal will ask me to play at 300 pounds or more without losing my quickness and footwork.
“I was 6-2, 200 when I got here as a freshman, so I think I know how to gain weight and not lose my other strengths.”
Gladnick has seen Driscoll grow from lanky freshman to a tower of strength and leadership as a senior.
“As great a football as he is — and he is a great football player — Brian is a better kid,” Gladnick said.
“Honestly, he’s the kind of kid you’d like to see marry your daughter.”
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