Prep Football: Torrey Pines Falcons lasso Mavericks, 41-9


When a junior running back breaks long gains all night, running for four touchdowns and catching another touchdown pass, in a 41-9 drubbing of rival La Costa Canyon and the Avocado League championship, the story writes itself. But that’s not the story that running back Sully O’Brien would tell. I watched him as JV star last year in pre-game warm ups. As backup quarterbacks practiced on the sidelines, who was shagging balls for them? Sully. So I think his story of the Falcons’ win would feature his teammates, starting with Luke Duerr.

In the fourth quarter, Torrey Pines was backed up to their own 6-yard line. Then a Falcon streaked downfield outdistancing all his pursuers. Of course I expected to see O’Brien’s number again, but outrunning the Maverick secondary was Duerr, the power back who normally makes his yardage by running straight over would-be tacklers. I haven’t seen that combination of speed and power since Earl Campbell. His 78-yard gain set up O’Brien’s fifth touchdown two plays later.

Then there’s Carson Ward with a 30-yard touchdown run of his own; Gabe Gmyr whose fancy footwork sheds tacklers like teflon; quarterback Jason Heine whose running gives Torrey Pines a triple option threat; and, of course, the offensive line which opens those holes. See “Cerebral lineman thrives in Torrey Pines’ wing-T offense,” The San Diego Union-Tribune article about Yujay Kurosu at

Even when the Falcons keep it mostly on the ground as they did against the Mavericks, the aerial game keeps the defense honest. Quarterback Miles Hastings hit Michael Gadinas for a 24-yard gain in the first quarter, loosening up the defense, and connected with O’Brien for screen passes in crucial third down conversions.

Don’t forget the defenders. The Maverick quarterback was pressured all night while their receivers were covered by Falcon defenders, including Peter Nelson and Nick Clapp. Trailing 20-3 as the second half opened LCC was driving to get back into the game. A pass completion to the Falcon 20 would have set them up to score, but Clapp stripped the ball and Beau Morgans grabbed it and sprinted to the Maverick 25, and Torrey Pines scored to go up 27-3.

An LCC pass into the end zone would have gone for a touchdown but was knocked away by Johnny Hastings. Then on third and seven Falcons swarmed into the backfield for a sack and LCC went for it on fourth down. Ty Helfrich and Kevin Misak sacked the quarterback for a huge loss and turnover on downs.

On their next series the Maverick receivers couldn’t beat Clapp’s coverage on the sidelines. Then they threw for the end zone but Clapp made the interception giving Torrey Pines the ball at their own 4. After Duerr’s big run Torrey Pines was up 34-3. Falcon defenders stripped the ball on a quarterback keeper and again had the ball in Maverick territory at the 30. It took just one play, a run by Ward, to put the Falcons up 41-3.

Torrey Pines has a first round bye and opens playoffs Nov. 18 at Cathedral Catholic High School.