Cathedral revels in Open Division football championship win over Carlsbad

Jaxson Moi (51) and the Dons celebrate the Open Division Championship title Saturday night in Escondido.
(Josh DaFoe)

Crown is 11th won by Dons under coach Sean Doyle


First, Cathedral Catholic’s football team sprawled out on Escondido High’s Wilson Stadium midfield carpet for a photo-op following the Dons’ convincing 48-19 Open Division championship game win over Carlsbad. Next, they collected trophies and patches they’ll sew onto their letterman jackets.

Then the Dons made a bee line to their rowdy Los Locos student section, swaying to Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me.” (There’s something downright cool about teenagers crooning to a 49-year-old song.)

Then the Dons lined up sideline to sideline Saturday night across the 50 and sprinted south, diving and belly flopping into the end zone.

“It’s a Dons tradition,” said quarterback Charlie Mirer, a pitcher and first baseman in baseball. “My head-first slide isn’t as good as my feet-first slide, but you’ve gotta go head first in the end zone.”


In a sport where there’s 11 players to a side, it was fitting that Cathedral head coach Sean Doyle ran his record to 11-0 in San Diego Section championship games. The Dons’ titles under Doyle have come in 1998, ’99, 2007, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’13, ’16, ’18 and ’21.

Knowing he’s been surrounded by talented athletes and assistant coaches, Doyle responded with a two-word text Sunday morning: “Definitely blessed.”


The thinking among rival coaches was that to upset Cathedral you had to load the box defensively, commit to stop the run and make No. 12 beat you, No. 12 being Mirer.

Saturday night, Mirer was at his best, completing 5 of 7 passes for 119 yards and two TDs.

“It feels amazing. It’s the best thing ever,” said the 6-foot-6, 220-pound QB. “Because people say you’re a Wing-T quarterback and you can’t throw the ball.”

No pressure

Mirer is the son of former Notre Dame and NFL veteran quarterback Rick Mirer, the second pick in the 1993 NFL Draft. Charlie said dad puts no pressure on him.

“He’s like my best friend,” said Charlie, who has a scholarship offer from Michigan. “He’s one of the only people who understands what playing quarterback is like. He tells me to be me.”

Famous Dad No. 2

No. 2 for the Dons is 6-foot-4 wide receiver Rex Haynes, son of Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back Mike Haynes. Haynes has been slowed all season by a strained right hamstring, first injured back in June running track.

Haynes didn’t play in the Dons’ semifinal win over Mission Hills. But Saturday night he caught four passes for 115 yards, including TD grabs of 51 and 19 yards.

Said Haynes: “All year I’ve been waiting to have a breakout game and there’s no better time than the CIF title.”

Title town

Even with the loss it was a pretty good week for Carlsbad athletics. The girls golf team finished fifth in the state championships on Tuesday. Saturday night the girls volleyball team finished runner-up in the Div. II state volleyball championships and the football team reached the Open Division football title game.

Just Sayin

Carlsbad sophomore quarterback Julian Sayin has drawn scholarship offers from multiple Power 5 programs and it’s easy to see why. Against a physical Cathedral defense, Sayin completed 25 of 31 passes for 251 yards and two TDs.

He finished the season with 2,750 yards passing and 34 TDs.

“He’s the rare high school quarterback who can go off his first read, to his second read and put the ball right on the money,” said Cathedral defensive coordinator John Montali. “He’s got a lot of playoff wins in his future, for sure.”

Playing hurt

Not in attendance Saturday was Union-Tribune freelance sports writer Jim Lindgren. A sixth-grade teacher in the Santee School District, Lindgren has covered high school football since 1985.

He was on the sideline for Friday night’s Division I semifinal Lincoln win over Madison when he was knocked down three times after plays on the Lincoln sideline.

“All three times my clipboard and paper went flying,” he said.

After spending eight hours in the ER on Saturday morning and getting 18 stitches in his right shin, Lindgren said his body felt like it had been in a train wreck.

“It was like I got on a train, crashed, got off, got on another train and crashed again,” said Lindgren.

Always the gamer, Lindgren met deadline and filed his story before heading to the hospital. He said Sunday he was still sore but feeling better than he did Saturday.

By the numbers

8 — Doyle is now tied with Gil Warren as the San Diego Section’s eighth winningest coach.

214 — Doyle’s win total. His 26-year record is 214-96.

97 — Combined dance team members and cheerleaders on the Cathedral sideline.

Awards season

A collection of media members will meet next month to select the section’s All-CIF teams and players of the year. After his performance Saturday (13 carries, 269 yards and TD runs of 4, 77 and 88 yards), Cathedral’s Lucky Sutton will be the favorite to be named Offensive Player of the Year.

Said Doyle, “I don’t think there’s any question.”

Awards sweep?

Stanford-bound Dons’ defensive end Jaxson Moi will be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year.

“There’s a reason why he’s going to the Pac-12,” Doyle said. “He’s just unstoppable.”


Before Cathedral Catholic opened its doors in Carmel Valley in 2005, the Dons were located in Linda Vista and called University of San Diego High. Better known simply as Uni.

The Dons honor their past with Uni on the side of their red helmets.

Said Doyle, “We’ve got 62 years of proud tradition we need to represent.”

Norcross is a freelance writer.