Mission High School’s defense has yet to allow a touchdown in Academic Athletic Association play this season, and in their signature 66-6 win over Galileo last week, Washington had a front-row seat. The entire Washington team, which will host the Bears in a battle of the remaining undefeated AAA teams on Friday, came out to watch Mission’s rout of Galileo last Thursday.
“I don’t get out to scout too many games, so we all went,” said Washington coach Karl Finley. “They’re a good, tough team and they’ve been good for the past several years. This year they definitely have some big, athletic kids.”
Last year, this game decided the regular-season AAA champ, with Mission edging Washington 16-13.
The Eagles wound up winning the ultimate prize, however, by beating Balboa in the Turkey Bowl, a title that has eluded Mission since 1954.
“Most people were thinking we were going to have a rematch last year and it didn’t happen,” Finley said. “Our ultimate goal is not Friday, but we still need to handle our business.”
The Bears took the top seed into the playoffs, but fell to Balboa in the semifinals.
“The kids thought they were unbeatable last year and we got beat,” said Mission coach Joe Albano.
Both teams have a bit to prove, as Mission has yet to play a AAA team in the top half of the league, while Washington went down 14-0 to winless Burton last week before rallying for a 28-14 win.
“We were kinda out of sync,” Finley said. “I can’t take anything away from Burton, but after it got to 14-0 we got some kinks out. It was a great game for us, because we came back to win. For us, it was good to see we could overcome some adversity.”
For Mission, not having a letdown after such a dominating game is a top priority.
“It will be interesting to see this week how we react when we get hit around a little bit,” Albano said. “Our season is really just beginning right now. If we lose this game, we have to take on Lincoln with the same record and they’re not an easy football team. We can drop to third in a blink of an eye.”
There’s no doubt of the playoff implications, but the game will likely come down to the AAA’s most explosive offense, led by big-play Washington running backs Jamie McHenry and Lajarie Mabrey, versus its most dominant defense, featuring Mission linebacker Algeron Malbrough and defensive end Darius Grays.
“We can’t let up the big play. If they’re going to score on us, we want them to earn it,” Albano said. “We need to run the ball and stop the run. That’s just the basics. That’s the AAA. It’s not brain surgery.”
Washington (5-2, 4-0) vs. Mission (5-2, 4-0)
WHEN: Friday, 3 p.m.
WHERE: Washington High School
LAST WEEK: Mission routed Galileo 66-6; Washington defeated winless Burton 28-14
LAST YEAR: Mission beat Washington 16-13
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