By Gideon Rubin
The little engine that could is humming again.
Santa Fe Christian, one of San Diego County’s most dominant small-school programs of the last decade, just ended a six-year championship game appearance drought.
The Eagles advanced to the Division V finals after outlasting Horizon 49-35 in a wild Nov. 23 semifinal contest.
They will be making their first title appearance since 2006, when they won the Division IV championship for their fifth title in six years (they appeared in six straight title games from 2001 to 2006).
The Eagles extended their winning streak to six games as they improved their overall record for the season to 9-3. They will play Coastal League rival Francis Parker (8-4) in the championship game on Friday (Nov. 30).
The title game is a rematch of an Oct. 2 league game between the two teams that SFC won 35-17.
Francis Parker defeated Christian 27-24 in its semifinal game on Nov. 23.
SFC took a big early lead and survived Horizon’s frantic fourth quarter rally to advance to the finals.
Tony Miro rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns on seven carries to lead the Eagles.
Hakon Bream rushed for 115 yards and one score on seven carries and also had a touchdown reception.
Eagles quarterback Hunter Vaccaro was three for four passing for 18 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.
Conor Keith set the tone for the victory, scoring on a 70-yard return of the opening kickoff.
Keith scored on a run from the 1 to give the Eagles a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, and SFC opened up a 28-0 lead the second quarter on a Miro scoring run from 35 yards out and Bream’s 80-yard scamper.
The Eagles had what seemed to be an insurmountable 35-13 lead early in the fourth quarter when Horizon scored 15 consecutive points to turn an apparent blowout into a one-possession game going into the last five minutes of the game.
The Eagles quickly restored order, with Miro scoring on a 45 yard run and Vaccaro completing a 19-yard touchdown pass to Bream to give SFC a 49-28 cushion.
Horizon added another touchdown in the final minute to close to within 49-35.
Horizon scored four touchdowns in an electric fourth quarter in which the two teams combined for 49 points.
Vaccaro led the Eagles defensively with 11 tackles and Ethan Sanders and Darrian Borboa each added nine tackles.
Cathedral Catholic moved to within one game of a state championship berth with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-18) victory over Windward (Los Angeles) in a state Division III quarterfinal match on Nov. 24.
Tatiana Durr had 27 kills to lead the Dons.
The Dons improved their overall record for the season to 32-4. They were scheduled to play host to Rim of the World (Lake Arrowhead) on Tuesday.
Torrey Pines lost to Redondo Union 3-0 (25-17, 25-18. 25-11) in a state Division I quarterfinal match on Nov. 24.
Reily Buechler had 13 kills to lead the Falcons, who conclude their season with a 30-5 overall mark.