By Christopher Abdelmalek
After winning their first CIF-SS football championship in school history, the Marina Vikings of Huntington Beach hosted the Vikings of La Jolla High School from San Diego County in the semi-final of the CIF State Championship for Division 4-A. The game was played at Boswell Field in Westminster.
Vikings against Vikings turned out to be a battle, but La Jolla came out victorious over Marina 27-14 thanks to a three-touchdown performance from quarterback Jackson Stratton who finished the night completing 22 out of 30 passes for 252 yards.
Marina led the game early with a two-yard touchdown run from quarterback Gavin Del Toro. This capped off an opening drive that lasted close to eight minutes. He finished the night with 149 yards in the air on 17 of 25 attempts.
Stratton then came in led his Vikings on their own touchdown drive. He threw his first touchdown of the game on fourth down to Diego Solis. Solis turned a five-yard catch into a 44 yards and a score to tie the game at 7-7.
Solis was Stratton’s favorite target in this game hauling in 9 catches for 125 yards and all three touchdowns. “That was a solid team. Hats off to them, they came out and outplayed us tonight,” said Coach Jeff Turley of Marina.
Each team scored a second quarter rushing touchdown to go into the half tied at 14-14. The game seemed to be in reach for both teams. But second half adjustment on both sides of the ball gave La Jolla the edge in the game.
The defense for La Jolla was stellar holding the Marina’s rushing attack to under 100 yards. With the run game stalled out, Del Toro was under a lot of pressure in the second half. “Great d-line rush, and a lot of blitzing, we just couldn’t cap it off,” said Del Toro on the pressure he faced.
La Jolla’s offense was well balanced with a solid rushing attack to go along with a sharp passing attack. Max Smith led the team with 19 rushes for 83 yards and one touchdown. His most productive runs of the game came in the second half.
With Marina’s offensive struggles, the defense was on the field a lot in the second half and was worn down quickly. Smith was able to keep the offense on the field and preventing the Marina offense from ever getting into a rhythm in the second half.
Stratton threw two more touchdowns in the game to Solis and closed the door on Marina’s hopes of an extended title run. Del Toro was visibly upset after the game but was confident in his team’s chances next year adding, “Next year I want that state ring.”
The La Jolla Vikings will face off against Escalon High School next week for the Division 4-A state title. The Marina Vikings finished the 2019 campaign with an overall 12-3 record, a Big-4 League title, a CIF-SS crown and a trip to state regionals.
Categories: High school sports