The Sierra Canyon Trailblazers (Chatsworth, Calif.), in their first year playing in the highest division of the California Interscholastic Federation South Section, found out what other teams have been dealing with for years:
One doesn’t just beat Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.).
Sierra Canyon’s season came to an end on Friday, as the Trailblazers lost to the Monarchs 41-14 in the CIF-SS Div. I semifinals.
Nevertheless, it was an excellent season for the reigning Div. II champions. Sierra Canyon went undefeated in the regular season, allowing more than 14 points only once as it faced programs like Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, Calif.), Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Serra (Gardena, Calif.). The No. 25 team in the Super 25, the Trailblazers entered the playoffs with something to prove.
“It’s been a great ride for us and there’s been a lot of great kids come through this place that have just slowly helped us climb the ladder,” head coach Jon Ellinghouse said to the Los Angeles Daily News prior to the start of the playoffs.
“We’re really proud of what our program has done until this point and this is where we’ve been trying to get. Now we’ve gotta try to prove that we belong.”
They did so with the 37-20 win over Santa Margarita to kick off the playoffs. The team was then outmatched by Mater Dei in the semifinals, a game in which junior quarterback commit Wyatt Becker threw 20-for-41 for 251 yards and a touchdown while running back Dane Dunn rushed for 74 yards and a score, according to the OC Register.
Becker, who committed to Utah on Wednesday, finished his junior year with 2,423 passing yards and 29 touchdowns to seven interceptions while completing 65.8% of his passes.
The defense was key in the Trailblazers’ success, and many important parts — namely, the pass rush — will return. While Carnell Ferguson, who had 20.5 sacks, will graduate, the line is in good hands behind sophomores Mikhal Johnson and Jonah Nadley and freshman Richard Wesley, who combined for 35.0 sacks.
Sierra Canyon didn’t get through Mater Dei, but it can—and should be—delighted with the success of this season. Undefeated entering the semifinals is nothing to scoff at, and they can prepare for next year to take on the behemoths of the division who are set to face off once again for the championship.