Broncos Dominate in CIF Football Playoff Versus Damien

The Damien Spartan football team came to Murrieta from La Verne Friday night with hopes of dismantling the Vista Murrieta Bronco’s high-octane offense.

The Spartans would come up on the short end and see their season come to an end at the hands of the Broncos, 38-13.

Coach Coley Candaele’s Broncos have been highly ranked all year and regularly put the points on the board through all four quarters, but especially during the second quarter where they have averaged 13.9 points.

The Spartans haven’t done so bad themselves in the points-scored-per-game category, sporting a 32.3 average score in their 7-3 record. Statistically speaking, they have excelled in their fourth quarter action, averaging 11.3 points.

Though the Spartans would strike first in the game and finish the first quarter 7-3, the Broncos' defense would hold them scoreless during the fourth quarter of their concluding game of the season.

The Broncos, true to form, tallied four touchdowns in their favored, second quarter. Going into halftime the score was Broncos 31, Spartans 7.

Coach Greg Gano’s Spartans earned the right to play in this first CIF-Southern Section playoff game by virtue of their third place finish in the tough Sierra League. Their 3-2 league record included a 52-6 thrashing of Chaffey on Sept. 15, a tough 28-27 loss to second place Chino Hills on Oct. 28, and a must-win home game against the Ayala Bulldogs last Friday where they came up the victor, 42-15.

Going into the game, the second-ranked Broncos were 5-5 with 10 wins on the field not counting their due to a then-ineligible player on their roster.

Damien’s starting quarterback, sophomore Gage Pucci, was somewhat effective on a variety of long passes downfield, but the Bronco defense kept his receivers out of the endzone for the rest of the game.

Vista Murrieta’s quarterback, Nick Stevens, directed a balanced offense with passes to seven receivers and handoffs to his four running backs.

Speaking to that second quarter success, Bronco head coach Coley Candaele said, “Once our offensive line started going in the second quarter, the confidence came back.”

Su’a Cravens, the Broncos' do-nearly-everything junior player, racked up nearly 40 yards rushing, more than 70 yards receiving, scored two touchdowns and came up with four defensive sacks in the win.

“We already knew they were a good team,” Su’a said. “They play in a tough league...We came out and played above what we’ve been playing all year."

Speaking about their next opponent, Candaele said it didn’t really matter whether it was Yucaipa or J.W. North.

“You know when you practice on Thanksgiving, things are going well.”

As it turns out, North came out the victor Friday night over Yucaipa, 27-13. The Broncos will travel to Riverside next Friday to take on the Huskies in second-round playoff action.

In other CIF-Southern Section Inland Division playoff action, Murrieta Valley’s Nighthawks season came to an end as they were defeated by highly-ranked Upland, 59-21.


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