A crowd of about 200 people came to the game wrapped in ponchos or huddled under umbrellas to watch Mar Vista High School best Clairemont High School 31-7 in first round Division IV playoff action.
Rain an hour before the game and at halftime led to the formation of a shallow mud pit in the center of the field. Players from both teams used screwdrivers to remove caked mud from the bottom of their cleats.
Carried by the legs of its offensive line and rushing offense, #5 seed Mar Vista High School beat #12 seed Clairemont High School Friday 31-7 at Mar Vista in the first round of the playoffs.
The Chieftains threw the ball often, but the Mariners kept their offense fueled by a running game between offensive tackles, with only one passing attempt in the entire game.
The Mariners took an early 2-0 lead on the eighth play of the game after the Chieftains hiked a punt through the back of the end zone resulting in a safety.
At the start of the 2nd quarter, the Chieftains would make a trip to the Mariners defense kept them out of the red zone and from a successful 4th down conversion.
A play later, Mar Vista quarterback Landon Clark made a fake handoff then took the ball to the house on a 89-yard touchdown run.
Advanced by short dump passes, with less than two minutes to go before halftime, runningback Chris Kelly ran 18 yards for a Clairemont touchdown to keep the score close at 9-7 at halftime.
A successful 3rd quarter brought the Mariners victory.
On third down, three plays into the 3rd quarter, runningback Jimmie Hill took a run 80 yards for a touchdown.
Landon O'Connell made a 22-yard run for touchdown with 4:02 in 3rd quarter.
A two-point conversion by Alejandro Akierlundh made the score 24-7.
A fumble by Clairemont on the first play of the next drive gave Mar Vista's offense the ball back on the Chieftains 20-yard line. O'Connell capitalized on the turnover with a one-yard touchdown run for the final score of the game with 0:21 left in the 3rd quarter. On the other side of the ball, O'Connell also made an interception in the 4th quarter.
After the game, Coach Brian Hay spent no time patting players on the back or telling the team how good a job they did. Talk immediately turned to Valley Center High School, who the Mariners will play Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. Hay called the Valley Center Jaguars one of the best teams the Mariners will play all year.
"They're a great team, and they're significantly better than these guys," Hay said. "They're fast, they're quick and it's going to take everything we've got to beat them. So this week we've got to be focused. We've got to get back on track and we've got to be crisp. And I mean crisp, clear and we've got to know exactly what we're doing."
Defensive containment of the Chieftains runningbacks and quarterback before the Mariners could get offensive drives going in the 3rd Quarter were the keys to success, Hay said.
"The defense stepping up and holding them as we made a couple of adjustments in the first half and the offense finally got going in the second half," he said. "It was just a matter of digging down and making sure we could do it."
Del Norte High School will take on #1 seed St. Augustine High School next Friday. Winner plays either Mar Vista or Valley Center.
Check back soon for more photos of the game.