The CIF quarterfinals; it’s a place Charter Oak football hasn’t been able to get past in the last five years since they were moved up to the Inland Division after the 2009 season. During that five-year span, CO encountered some of California’s best football teams such as Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, and Vista Murrieta. This year, after dropping back down to the Central Division, the Chargers have been poised to make some noise in the playoffs. However, some critics felt that they wouldn’t get past the upstart San Marino Titans & their dynamic offense in the second round. CO didn’t just prove those naysayers wrong, they made a statement with an exclamation point at the end, beating the Titans by a score of 49-31.
The Chargers started the game on offense; however things didn’t go so well for them to start as they went three-and-out & then gave up a field goal on defense. After the offense got back onto the field, however, they were able to get the ball rolling with a touchdown to give them an early 7-3 lead. The Titans then responded with a touchdown of their own to get the lead back, but running back Zion Echols took it upon himself again to score and get back on top. At the end of the first quarter, the Chargers were up 14-10 in a shootout like most predicted.
Things would quickly change in the second quarter, though. The Charter Oak defense stepped up in getting a huge stop on the San Marino offense, and the Chargers kept on rolling. Echols added onto his already huge game with a 63-yard touchdown run, and junior quarterback Kamden Brown connected with senior Joseph Garcia towards the end of the half and headed into the locker room with a commanding 28-10 lead.
It seemed like San Marino got their second wind during the half, because they were able to score quickly on their first possession of the third quarter and hold the Chargers to another three-and-out. The Titans scored again on their next offensive possession, and suddenly Charter Oak’s lead was cut to four points. CO would refuse to let another lead slip out of their hands, however, and Brown would throw his second touchdown pass of the night, this one to sophomore Brian Casteel. The 3rd quarter came to a close, and the Chargers were 12 minutes away from their first semi-finals appearance in five years.
The Titans absolutely refused to go down without a fight, and they scored again to cut CO’s lead to 35-31. It took the Chargers two plays to respond, as Echols scored his fourth touchdown of the night to extend their lead. The Charter Oak defense would step up and shut down San Marino, forcing them to punt with five minutes left in the game. Once the CO offense got the ball back, Echols scored again on an 83-yard touchdown run that all but ended the game. Charter Oak would go on to win 49-31.
The Chargers return home for next week’s semifinal matchup against the first seed Colony Titans, who are coming off a 41-27 win over Glendora. It will be an intense, physical night and it will not be one to miss. As previously mentioned, the last time CO made it to the third round was 2009, which is also the last year they won a CIF title.
— Andres Soto