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.
Canyon Crest Academy lost to King 3-1 (25-19, 17-25, 25-16, 25-16) in a state Division II quarterfinal match on Nov. 24.
The Ravens concluded their season with a 27-12 overall mark.
Francis Parker defeated Santa Fe Christian 3-0 (25-14, 25-20, 25-21) in a state Division IV quarterfinal match on Nov. 24.
The loss dropped the Eagles overall record for the season to 18-13.
Cathedral Catholic won the Division III championship with a 9-8 overtime victory over Bishop’s in the Nov. 17 title game at La Jolla High.
Jordan Colina scored four goals to lead the Dons.
Austin Rone, Cody Smith and Bryce Curry each added two goals.
Dons goalie Joe Cleary had 14 saves.
The Dons improved their overall record for the season to 22-7.
Torrey Pines placed 18th in the Division I state meet on Nov. 24.
Senior Ben Jafek placed 50th to lead the Falcons, running the five-kilometer at Woodward Park in Fresno in 16 minutes and six seconds.
Junior Tal Braude (16:29) placed 88th and freshman Spencer Dodds (16:34) placed 100th.
Senior Nathan Platt (16:41) and junior Kurtis Shaffer (16:50) placed 110th and 119th.
Seniors Matt Barge (16:57) and Santiago Quintana (17:12) placed 123rd and 129th.