One of the more intriguing matchups of the opening week of California’s state football playoffs eventually boiled down to a somewhat surprising factor: Which team’s defense could earn a stop in the second half.
With Junipero Serra remaining within 17 points of USA TODAY High School Sports No. 10 Corona Centennial at the half, including a touchdown with just 0.7 seconds remaining in the second period, some may have dreamed an upset was on the cards. Instead, that late touchdown inspired a stiffer front line, with Centennial’s fierce defense taking center stage and keeping JSerra from the end zone until the final five minutes of the game, when Centennial had already padded its advantage to four touchdowns.
That final margin, 55-24, said everything about Centennial doubling-down and finding a way to win, all while buying its explosive offense time to fully catch its stride.
While the victory was eventually a strong opening salvo in Centennial’s drive to make it back to Anaheim and the CIF-Southern Section finals, it also could serve as an appetizer to a more explosive second round, with Centennial scheduled to visit Chaminade and its high octane offense in the San Fernando Valley. As the Los Angeles Times’ Eric Sondheimer put it: “First team to 60 wins.” Given Centennial’s defensive stand in its playoff opener, the Huskies have to like their chances.