Asked about Friday’s upcoming game against defending CIF Champion Vista Murrieta High School, Murrieta Mesa High School Coach Justin Schaeffer said: "They are very, very good! We need to be poised and controlled."
Indeed, the Vista Murrieta Broncos take advantage of opposing teams' mistakes and turn them into points and an undefeated 8-0 record. The Broncos are ranked first in the CIF Southern Section and second in California.
Coach Coley Candaele’s Broncos are coming off a 45-17 win over previously undefeated Murrieta Valley. They are 3-0 in Southwestern League play and are the frontrunners for this year’s CIF Crown.
Coach Candaele’s Bronco team is a machine that seemingly cannot be stopped. They average 47 points per game. The offense is well balanced, gaining 190.7 yards on the ground and 190.1 in the air per game.
Bronco quarterback Nick Stevens’ favorite receivers are Jaimie Nunley, Randy Beggs and Darrel Denby—and of course, Su’a Cravens.
Key offensive weapons on the ground are Kishawn Holmes, Stewart Riding and Keiron Long. The Bronco offensive line—consisting of Donnell Toliver, Mark Diano, James Maloney, Jack Porter and Matthew Tyre—is one of the best in southern California football.
The core of the Broncos' punishing, aggressive defensive unit are defensive ends Tyler Cook, Curtis Bolton and tackle Grant Cleary.
Middle linebacker Bryce Smith anchors the opportunistic, swarming defense with linemen Ray Faoliu, Riccardo Mermea and John Hall solidifying the group. Cravens has been a standout on both sides of the ball.
Parker Erickson, a senior, will quarterback the Rams again this week. He led Murrieta Mesa to its first league victory over Temecula Valley last week. Starting quarterback Chase Chambers will be lost for the remainder of the season due to a knee Injury. Erickson completed 19 passes for 320 yards and three touchdowns against the Bears.
Senior Khalil Sharpe leads the Rams' prolific air attack. He will be flanked by Mesa’s other talented receivers Gilbert Toves and Daniel Castro. With Chambers gone and Erickson at QB, Kyler Vasquez has taken on the bulk of the running attack.
Murrieta Mesa‘s defensive unit is no longer underrated. This team can play defense. Ram defensive leaders are senior linebackers Clayton Willis and Dallin Inman.
Linebacker Chandler Woodward, defensive linemen Nick Tejada, Bryson Bridges, Garrett Andrews and Wesley Scott all had solid games against the Bears.
The defensive secondary consists of Davian Neitz, Alec Salcedo, Dylan McDonald and Billy Montoya, who round out the rest of the Ram defensive starters.
Coach Schaeffer summed up the upcoming game with the Broncos.
“They run the ball very well with both their RBs and their QB. They’re an effective passing team when they need to be. Defensively, they’re very aggressive and physical. They play with a great deal of confidence in all three phases of the game.
“We need to match their intensity.”
The Rams host Vista Murrieta at 7 p.m. Friday. Come out and support your favorite high school football team. See you at the game!