UPDATE 11:55 p.m. Nov. 23: The Thanksgiving Day practice paid off; Vista Murrieta defeated Rancho Cucamonga 34-0 in Friday's semifinal playoff game.
The Broncos will now play Corona Centennial in the CIF Southern Section Inland Division Championship game as a result of Centennial's 46-36 victory Friday over Upland High.
Check back with Patch for more coverage of Vista Murrieta's win over Rancho Cucamonga.
While the rest of Murrieta enjoys turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and football on TV, Coach Coley Candaele’s Vista Murrieta Broncos will be on the football field preparing to defend their CIF Division Championship title.
As the season winds down, Candaele’s Broncos are ramping up and focusing on Friday night’s contest with the Cougars in the CIF Southern Section Inland Division semi-final game. The winning team advances to meet the victor of the Corona Centennial-Upland match for the division title.
The Broncos—currently ranked ninth in the U.S. and third in California by Maxpreps.com—are looking to get their groove back after an uncharacteristic game against Norco last week where they turned the ball over four times.
“You have those ups and downs," Candaele said. “We’ve had a little change in attitude this week, so we should be back to our normal self on Friday night.”
Senior quarterback Nick Stevens will lead the Broncos into battle. Stevens has had an exceptional year and is clearly one of the top playmakers in the division. His favorite targets are receivers Darrel Denby, Jamie Nunley, Colin Baker and the multi-faceted Su’a Cravens.
Kishawn Holmes is who the Broncos count on to move the chains on the ground. He is quick, fast and evasive and runs behind one of the best offensive lines in southern California. Bezhawn Hill and Keiron Long balance out the running game for the Broncos.
Vista Murrieta’s defense has established itself as the best in the division. They have only given up 131 points over a 12-game span and have shut out opponents twice in their last four games.
The core of the Broncos’ punishing, aggressive defense is junior defensive ends Tyler Cook and Curtis Bolton and senior tackle Grant Cleary.
Middle linebacker Bryce Smith has been the anchor for the opportunistic, swarming defense all season long. Linemen Ray Faoliu, Ricardo Mermea and John Hall add depth and solidify the Bronco defense.
Senior safety Cravens has been a dangerous weapon on both sides of the ball. He is outstanding on defense, and his 62-yard touchdown last week put the game out of reach and sealed the Bronco victory over Norco.
Rancho Cucamonga—ranked currently by Maxpreps.com as 146th in the nation and 24th in the state—is bringing its formidable defense into town. The Cougars have only allowed 147 points all season.
Last week, they held the usually explosive Charter Oak offense to a single touchdown, 123 yards rushing and 101 yards in the air. The Cougars recorded six sacks, an interception and two blocked field goal attempts against the Chargers.
Offensively, the Cougars this season have averaged 30 points a game, 158 yards passing and 172 yards on the ground. They are led by senior quarterback Adam Friederichsen, who has passed for 1,849 yards and 15 TDs this season.
His primary receivers are senior Jermel Walker and junior Ralston Compton. Running backs Khalil Muhammad and James Robinson provide most of the ground game for Rancho Cucamonga.
Candaele’s Broncos have not been defeated by anyone since opening day, 2011. Vista Murrieta was forced to forfeit five games last season due to a CIF sanction, but the CIF Champion Broncos have won 26 consecutive contests where it counts—on the football field.
Vista Murrieta is a well disciplined football machine full of talented young players driven by their coach to win football games.
Come on out at 7 p.m. Friday to Bronco Stadium and watch one of the best high school football programs in the nation in action.