- Cathedral Catholic won two straight San Diego Section titles and a state championship with one of the area's most prolific offenses.
Now it's the defense that has the Dons on the brink of a third section title.
The Dons, who've taken on a different personality after taking some heavy graduation losses, heavily showcased their defense in a 42-3 trouncing of St. Augustine in a San Diego Section Div. III semifinal on Dec. 4.
Defense has been pivotal for the Dons, who've adjusted to life without record-setting running back Tyler Gaffney (now at Stanford).
Through 12 games, the Dons are averaging 9.5 points allowed, nearly half as many as they did last year when they yielded 17.3 points per game in a 14-game season.
Fittingly, the Dons defense set the tone early in the St. Augustine game with a pair of interception returns for touchdowns that gave them a 14-0 lead before Cathedral Catholic quarterback Max Brewer took his first snap. They held their opponent to 208 yards of total offense, and just 20 rushing yards.
The Dons, who improved to 11-1 with the victory, will count on their defense when they play Point Loma of San Diego (8-3) on Dec. 11 at 1 p.m. at Qualcomm Stadium in a rematch of the 2007 Div. III final. The Dons won that game by a decisive 41-3 margin.
"So many people had written us off before this season saying this isn't the same team as last year," Cathedral Catholic coach Sean Doyle said, noting that in high school football "no team is the same" from one year to the next.
Cathedral Catholic's margin of victory in the St. Augustine game was a surprise, however, considering the Dons barely squeaked by the Saints, 17-14, in an Eastern League game on Nov. 6.
Doyle said the Dons didn't play their typical fundamentally sound football, noting several dropped passes and some missed assignments on both sides of the ball in the previous meeting.
"We didn't play our A game last time and we knew that going into this one," Doyle said. "We knew if we played better we should be able to take care of business and we did."
The Dons took a 7-0 lead less than a minute into the game when Eric Sapp scored on an 11-yard interception return.
Brien Moynihan returned an interception 34 yards on the Saints ensuing possession to give the Dons a 14-0 lead.
Dons running back Johnny Martin scored on runs from the 1 and the 2 to give the Dons a 28-3 lead going into the intermission.
The Dons broke the game open in the second half, when Brewer completed two scoring passes to Chance Early from 10 and 40 yards out to make it 42-3.
Martin led the Dons rushing for 136 yards on 17 carries, and Brewer completed 7 of 11 pass attempts for 125 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Jordan Lance led the Dons defensively with nine tackles and Mustafa Jalil, Tyler Vasquez and A.J. Montes each had five tackles.
Moynihan and Sapp each had two interceptions for the Dons.
- Santa Fe Christian lost to Mission Bay 58-42 in a wild Div. IV semifinal despite a prolific performance from running back Sam Hoekstra.
The Eagles senior concluded his prep career in grand fashion, rushing for a career-high 323 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries.
Hoekstra scored three times from 40 yards out or more.
He got the high-scoring game going with a 53-yard run early in the fourth quarter that gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
He also scored on a 41-yard run later in the first quarter, and an 80-yarder late in the game.
Eagles quarterback Keaton Giannotti rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries.
- Cathedral Catholic won its second straight Div. II state title, defeating Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco 3-1 (25-18, 17-25, 25-14, 25-19) at UC Irvine's Bren Events Center on Dec. 5 in a rematch of last year's title match at the same site.
The Dons concluded their season with a 29-12 overall record.
State tournament MVP Kelly Reeves had 19 kills and five blocks to lead the Dons, and Taylor Milton added 15 kills and eight blocks.
Lindsay Elgin led the Dons with 10 blocks and Morgan Cormier contributed five kills and eight blocks.
The Dons advanced to the state championships after defeating Cerritos 3-0 (25-21, 30-28, 25-12) in a Southern California regional final on Dec. 1.
Milton had 24 kills and Reeves had 22 kills to lead the Dons in the Cerritos match.
- Torrey Pines standout Megan Morgan finished second to a familiar rival at the Foot Locker West Regional meet on Dec. 5 at Mount SAC in Walnut.
Morgan clocked a 17 minute, 59 second time on the grueling 5,000-meter course, finishing four seconds behind archrival Molly Grabill of Rancho Bernardo.
Torrey Pines' Alli Billmeyer placed 14th.
The top 10 runners out of the regional meet qualified for the Dec. 12 Foot Locker National Championship at Balboa Park.
- Once again, TPHS surf team showed its dominance in long boarding at the Interscholastic Surfing Federation Coastal in Div. I and II of the San Diego high school tournament, held in Ocean Beach on Nov. 14.
Preston Crowell, a junior at TPHS, took first place in long boarding while Eric Marin, a Torrey Pines senior, took second. Crowell and Eric are continuing their success after earning the school a first place spot in the ISF State Championships for long boarding last May with the help of Blake Humann, who is now a student at Channel Islands State College.
Lauren Humann, a junior, wowed spectators by taking first place in both women's long board and women's short board competitions.
Dale Timm, a senior, placed second in the men's short board contest and Ricky Gardner, a senior, placed fourth. Shelli Swindell, a sophomore, finished fifth in women's short board, while Siena Buccigrossi, a junior, finished fifth in women's long boarding.
Dana Crowell contributed to this report.