No. 7 Vista Murrieta 58, No. 19 North 14


RIVERSIDE -- Su’a Cravens took another step forward in his emergence as one of the top players in the Southland this season. The Vista Murrieta junior carried the Broncos on his back Friday night, as well as a few defenders from J.W. North, leading his team to a 58-14 rout in the second round of the Inland Division playoffs at Riverside College.

Cravens rushed for 205 yards in 10 carries and scored on three highlight-reel touchdown runs against an overwhelmed J.W. North defense. Cravens, who has more scholarship offers (17) than any other player in the class of 2013, had never rushed for more than 100 yards in a high school game.

“He’s a special player,” said Vista Murrieta coach Coley Candaele. “At the end of the season, we’ll allow him to be special.”

Candaele has limited Cravens’ offensive touches this season because he’s also a standout strong safety for the third-seeded Broncos. Candaele said there won’t be any limitations next week against second-seeded Upland at Vista Murrieta High.

“If he has to carry the ball 40 times for us to win, then he’s going to carry it 40,” Candaele said.

Cravens scored the first time he touched the ball against the Huskies, motoring 34 yards on Vista Murrieta’s opening possession for a 7-0 lead. Candaele then opted to attempt an on-side kick and the Broncos were successful, setting up a 33-yard field goal by Tyler Rausa.

J.W. North quarterback Justin Gheorghe did not start the game because of an injured throwing shoulder suffered in the regular season finale two weeks ago against Norco, but coach Mark Paredes was forced to call on the senior lefthander on the second series of the game.

Gheorghe gave the Huskies some spark, leading the offense on back-to-back drives inside the red zone. The first ended when a a 38-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright, the second resulted in a three-yard touchdown run by Denzel Foster, cutting the deficit to 10-7 midway through the second quarter.

That was a close as J.W. North would get, as Vista Murrieta quarterback Nick Stevens scored on two keepers later in the second quarter to push the lead to 23-7 at the half.

Cravens then opened the second half with a dazzling 50-yard touchdown run in which he weaved through and dragged tacklers the entire way. He added a 29-yard touchdown scamper three minutes later to put the game on ice.

“Our offensive line was working hard so I had to work hard too,” Cravens said. “Set up some blocks, really just cutting back, trying to score on every play “

He nearly accomplished his goal.