Nobody really thought it would be all that tough for Del Oro High School, did they?
Yes, the Golden Eagles went into the CIF State Division II-AA championship game Friday night with six losses, which is a lot for a football team, against a Camarillo team that had none, which is not very many for any kind of team, even the Golden State Warriors.
So right on schedule, Del Oro held a squad that had been averaging 53 points a game to just a single touchdown, and the Golden Eagles departed Hornet Stadium with a 16-13 win – a piece of cake for the boys from Loomis.
They scored the first time they got the ball and led the whole thing.
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Was it ever in doubt for 9-6 against 15-0?
“Never,” Golden Eagle coach Casey Taylor said.
If anybody questioned the worthiness of a six-loss team to play for a state title, all you had to do was look at Del Oro’s schedule.
They lost to powerhouse Punahou of Honolulu, the president’s school, and Folsom, which was Jake Browning’s. They succumbed to the dynasty of De La Salle, and also to Bellarmine, the champions from San Jose. You can’t exactly call Oak Ridge (10-3) a stiff, nor would it be right or fair to refer to Rocklin (10-4) as a slouch, either.
Camarillo’s 15 in a row did not come off the rack, either, but the Scorpions’ run of victories that occurred by an average score of 53-22 did not match up to the Murderers Row encountered by Del Oro.
In some parts of the world they probably do put point spreads on schoolboy football, but no reputable house does such a thing in these parts. If they did, you’d think that the undefeated Camarillans would have gotten the pregame nod. Or maybe not. The experts at Rivals.com, anyway, who report on collegiate prospects, apparently favor the talent coming out of Del Oro. They have listed four players from the senior and junior classes as being on the recruiting radar, compared to two for Camarillo.
A Del Oro junior running back named Camrion Davis isn’t on that list – yet. Friday night, he dropped the hammer for Del Oro, again and again. He slammed it 24 times for 202 yards and two touchdowns.
If he had any runs bigger than the 58-yard toe-tapping touchdown along the south sideline early in the fourth quarter, it was the one-yarder just before it.
Here was the situation: Del Oro led 10-6 and had the ball on fourth-and-inches at the Golden Eagles’ 40. With Camarillo quarterback Jake Constantine having found his groove, coach Taylor ordered the ball handed off to Davis. Two Camarillo defenders hit him in the backfield, but he bounced off and got away from both to get the first down.
Next play, he went for 58 and six.
“I just came in with a mentality that nobody was going to stop me, nobody was going to stop me from getting into the end zone and helping my team win,” Davis said.
Davis put his mentality to work after Del Oro received the opening kickoff. He gained 49 yards on a lengthy drive that concluded with his own seven-yard touchdown run.
“Before the game, even talking with my family, I knew I had to do something to put my team on my back, to help them win this game, and that’s exactly what I did,” Davis said.
On a night that started out dry but turned rainy in the fourth quarter, Del Oro ran off one huge defensive play after another to keep Camarillo in the ballpark. John Spencer contributed a strip and fumble recovery. Linebackers Cade White and Pablo Miller helped out with two short-yardage stops. A sack by tackle Ray Thomas killed off another Camarillo drive. Defensive back Dominic Pericin broke up a pass at the goal line and was robbed of an interception on a deep ball by Constantine that the officials gave to Camarillo’s Colby Stevens on a joint-possession call.
No biggie. The next play, Del Oro safety Mason Hurst picked off Constantine in the end zone.
“The defense needed a big play,” Hurst said. “There was a debatable call a few plays before, and someone needed to step up. We had to do it as a team.”
From his observation post in center field, Hurst said there was no doubt Pericin intercepted the ball.
“I saw him,” Hurst said. “He pulled the ball into his chest before the guy started digging in there.”
The state championship came for Del Oro on its third appearance in the tournament in five years.
Don’t be surprised if they make it four out of six next year.
The quarterback, Stone Smartt – a junior. He threw for 2,485 yards and 17 touchdowns going into Friday night. The leading runner, Dalton Gee – had had 920 yards, a 5.8 average per carry and 10 touchdowns. The second-leading runner, Davis – 705 yards, a 5.3 average and eight touchdowns.
“I’m excited about that,” Davis said. “I want to enjoy this right now, and then we’ll be right back on the grind and getting ready for next year.”
Editor’s note: Previous versions of this story should have identified John Spencer as the player who contributed a strip and fumble recovery. We regret the error.