May 16 was the day of the third annual Charter Oak Spring Showcase (rebranded this year as the Super 7’s Spring Showcase), a 7-on-7 football tournament featuring several schools from Southern California. Some new teams showed up and impressed, others flamed out early. Overall, it was a day for coaches to evaluate what they’re working with in terms of skill players on the roster, or as assistant head football coach Dominic Farrar put it, “May 16 is our first opportunity and challenge to evaluate our prospect to what we’ve committed our entire off-season for.”
At last year’s tournament, Charter Oak was in the midst of a quarterback controversy, however they still competed very well and beat talented teams such as Hart en route to a championship loss in overtime to Alemany. The team was led by an experienced linebacking core anchoring the defense led by Jason Ortiz, Ryan Hansen, and Jacob Underhill.
This year, all those guys are gone, and now the pressure was on to find guys to produce at the high level that they did. “Our primary focus is always just trying to maintain and elevate our expectations and standards of ourselves and each other,” Farrar said, “so the only opponent that we’re truly competing with is ourselves.”
Pool play started off at 8 a.m. Charter Oak was placed in the Pac-12 pool along with Corona Santiago, Calabasas, and Rosemead. Despite starting off with junior quarterback Kamden Brown throwing an early interception, the Chargers never looked back from that and blew everyone in their pool out of the water. They had earned the second seed in bracket play, which included a first-round bye.
At 1:30 p.m., Charter Oak started bracket play by taking on the El Rancho Dons. El Rancho had heart, but Charter Oak simply outclassed them and were dominated by the Chargers’ passing attack which featured returning all-league quarterback Kamden Brown and all-CIF receivers Zion Echols and Brian Casteel, along with the dangerous Dareon Nash. Charter Oak eased their way to a 66-22 win over the Dons and advanced to the quarterfinals, where they would take on Arroyo.
Arroyo faced a similar problem that El Rancho did, they just could not match up with Charter Oak. Arroyo has talent, however the difference in levels of competition between both teams have the Chargers a huge advantage over the Knights, once again making it look easy out there with a 37-8 victory. CO was now on their way to the semifinals, where they would either take on La Habra or Upland.
Upland ended up winning their quarterfinal game, and they advanced to take on Charter Oak in the semifinals, with the winner taking on the winner of Bishop Amat vs Loyola for the championship. Right away the difference between El Rancho, Arroyo, and Upland were crystal clear. Upland had a huge size advantage over Charter Oak, and they had embarrassed the Chargers on live TV a few years earlier in the Inland Division playoffs.
This would not be a repeat of that game, however. The game was scoreless for a long time, the Upland secondary was locking down Charter Oak’s star-studded offense and although the Highlanders were moving the ball well, they just couldn’t get past the Charger defense into the end zone.
Upland would draw first blood after a lengthy drive and they would also convert the extra point to go up 7-0. A few possessions later, Charter Oak would score a touchdown of their own, however they weren’t able to convert the PAT and still trailed 7-6.
The Highlanders responded on their very next drive and scored again, but this time they wouldn’t convert the PAT, however they still extended their lead to 13-6.
Despite struggling to move the ball on their next drive, the Chargers were still able to score and make the conversion to tie the score at 13.
However, Upland once again moved the ball at will against CO’s defense and took their lead back late in the game 20-13. Time was running out for Charter Oak, but if anyone could pull this off, they could, especially with such a talented offense.
Upland’s defensive backs just proved too much for the Charter Oak receivers, as they continuously batted down Brown’s passes that would’ve otherwise easily been completed and gone for six. After turning the ball over on downs, time ran out, and Charter Oak was eliminated from their own tournament while Upland would go on to play Bishop Amat in the final round, where the Lancers would pull of the victory.
It is now officially football season at Charter Oak again. The Chargers have some work to do before heading to Las Vegas on Aug. 28 to take on Green Valley, however they still have a majority of their players from their solid 2014 team. The biggest questions will still fall upon the defensive line and linebackers. Among the linebackers returning from last year are sophomores Luke Evans and Dylan Ontiveros, however who the other two linebackers are for this season remain a mystery. This season does look bright for them, however, as you can’t doubt the coaching that this team gets, they will be set for this upcoming season. And even scarier, they’re still hungry for that CIF ring that they were robbed of last season.