For the second time in three years, the Sacred Heart Prep football team is playing for its first-ever Central Coast Section football championship. Unfortunately for the Gators (10-2), they will face the top-seeded team in the section’s Division IV bracket.
Carmel (11-1) stands in the way this time, and the Gators are hoping to reverse their fortunes from 2008 when they took an 11-0-1 record into the title game against a 7-5 Sacred Heart Cathedral team and suffered a 38-21 defeat.
Unlike 2008, the Gators will enter Saturday’s title tilt as the underdog against the defending section champions. The game is slated to kick off at 3 p.m. at Westmont High School in Campbell.
“Carmel is a good, athletic team,” Gators coach Peter Lavorato said. “Their quarterback [Devin Pearson] is a great athlete in their spread offense.”
On defense, the Padres will not present any exotic packages for the Gators’ offense to worry about. But that does not mean they will not present any challenges.
“On defense they are pretty basic,” Lavorato said. “But what they do, they do very well.”
Carmel gains an added advantage in that it does not have any two-way players, meaning it will not wear down like most teams tend to as the game enters the final quarter.
“We don’t have many two-way players ourselves, but we’ve had to start using some lately due to injuries,” Lavorato said. “We’re not quite as deep as they are.”
On offense, the Gators will look to run first, meaning running backs Tyler McCool and Colin Terndrup will pound the ball on the ground as much as possible.
“We run first and pass second and make the other team stop our run game,” Lavorato said.
Once the Gators do turn to the passing game, senior quarterback John Geary has plenty of options to throw to. In addition to McCool and Terndrup out of the backfield, Geary will target Tomas O’Donnell and Bryan Munks.
Giving Geary time to throw, as well as McCool and Terndrup room to run, is the job of the Gators’ offensive line.
“We have a great offensive line and we can move the ball,” Lavorato said.
The Gators were able to move the ball last week in a 28-14 win over Menlo to advance to this weekend’s title game and managed to keep Menlo in check defensively as well. It is a feat they must repeat Saturday against a Carmel team that outgunned a solid Half Moon Bay team 42-35 last week.
“We’re not a fancy defense,” Lavorato said. “But we can get the job done.”
CCS Division IV Championship
WHO: No. 2 Sacred Heart Prep (10-2) vs. No. 1 Carmel (11-1)
WHEN: Saturday, 3 p.m.
WHERE: Westmont High School, Campbell
LAST WEEK: No. 2 Sacred Heart Prep defeated No. 6 Menlo 28-14; No. 1 Carmel held off No. 4 Half Moon Bay 42-35