High school football—where for even the best, fortunes can swiftly change. Last year, Torrey Pines defeated Carlsbad for the third consecutive time on the way to an undefeated regular season and eventually a spot in the CIF Open Division championship game against Cathedral Catholic.
Friday night, the 10th-ranked Falcons’ Head Coach Ron Gladnick watched as a running fourth quarter clock sped up the agony of a 42-7 loss to the visiting No. 4 Lancers, leaving his young, rebuilding squad with a 3-3 overall mark and 0-2 in the Avocado West League. Carlsbad came out of the contest 5-1 on the year and, at 3-0, in control of its own destiny in the Avo West. After a promising start, the home team was simply unable to match what its opponent was bringing on either side of the ball.
After recovering a Carlsbad fumble at the Torrey Pines 25, Gladnick’s charges put together a 75-yd. drive featuring several nice runs by seniors Cael Helfrich and Dorian Lewis. Six-foot-three, 185-lb. junior battering ram Marco Notarainni finished things up with a one-yd. plunge to put the Falcons on top, 7-0, with 1:48 remaining in the first quarter. It was the last time Torrey hit the scoreboard.
The Lancers leveled the score before the quarter was over when junior quarterback Aidan Sayin hit Noah Vella in stride and the senior broke one tackle and took it 54 yds. for a touchdown.
Carlsbad broke it open in the second quarter. Sayin, who was a flawless 11-of-11 through the air, connected twice in the right corner of the end zone with another senior, Cole Wright. Vella then garnered the second of his three sixes, taking a handoff up the middle, veering left and going 53 tackle-breaking yards with just 1:11 to go in the first half. It was 28-7 at intermission.
On the first drive after the break, a wide-open Vella made a twisting over-the-shoulder grab of a fling from Sayin and carried it 67 yards untouched to make it 35-7. Sayin had four TD tosses on the night and Vella racked up 255 total yards. Lancer reserves accounted for the final TD and both teams substituted liberally in the final 12 minutes. It was a cut-and-dry night from Gladnick’s perspective but his eyes were also focused on the future.
“We got our butts kicks by a very, very good senior-laden, seasoned football team,” said Gladnick. “There are a lot of lessons to be learned from that and hopefully our kids will learn them.
“We’re starting 16 or 17 underclassmen and our objective is to keep them getting better all the time—more seasoned, more experienced. All the young kids playing right now are like money in the bank for the future.”
In addition to the electric play from the Lancers’ big three of Sayin, Vella and Wright, Coach Thadd MacNeal’s defense limited Torrey Pines to just 165 yards of total offense, 158 on the ground. He was “coach-like” in his post-game remarks.
“Torrey Pines has a great program, we always play them tough and we’re just happy to have another Avocado West win,” said MacNeal, whose team has a one-game league advantage over future foes Oceanside and La Costa Canyon. “I like how we settled down after they had that 80-yd. scoring drive in the first quarter and it was nice to see the way we were so explosive on offense.”
Gladnick, whose team has four Avo West contests remaining, was also able to pull some positives out of the defeat. “I don‘t think our kids quit, they kept fighting, kept trying,” he said. “You’ve got to tip your cap to that other team. They’re just good—like we were last year.”
When the possibility of Carlsbad being a potential CIF Championship contender, MacNeal wasn’t quite ready to make that leap. “I’m all about the next game, trash this one and we’re on to Oceanside,” said MacNeal. “We’re laser-focused on next week and that’s the truth—I barely know our schedule.
“All I know is that we just beat Torrey Pines and we’ve got Oceanside next week.”
Avocado West Standings
Carlsbad 3-0, 5-1
Oceanside 2-1, 4-2
La Costa Canyon 2-1, 3-3
Mission Hills 1-1, 4-2
El Camino 1-1, 3-3
Torrey Pines 0-2, 3-3
San Marcos 0-3, 2-4
Oct. 11 Games
Torrey Pines @ Mission Hills
El Camino @ San Marcos
Carlsbad @ Oceanside
La Costa Canyon @ Valley Center