Los Angeles Preps: Inland Division playoffs

Inland Division: Corona Centennial 45, Vista Murrieta 21

December, 11, 2010

CORONA—The Inland Division playoffs haven’t been the runaway train that the regular season was, but the Corona Centennial football team continues to prove it can step on the gas when needed.

The top-seeded Huskies scored 17 unanswered points in the third quarter to pull away from visiting Vista Murrieta and win, 45-21, to claim its sixth Southern Section title this decade.

Barrinton Collins led the way for the Huskies (14-0), rushing for 286 yards in 42 carries and scoring five touchdowns.

“Coach told me we were going to pound the rock and that’s what we did,” Collins said.

Collins scored on runs of 17, 24 and two yards in the opening half, but the second-seeded Broncos cut Centennial’s lead to 21-14 on a 31-yard touchdown run by speedster Javonte Slater with 3 minutes 33 seconds remaining in the half.

That’s how it stood heading into the third quarter, when Collins scored on a 13-yard run on Centennial’s first drive. Vista Murrieta then fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Huskies tacked on a 31-yard field goal to increase their lead to 31-14.

The Broncos (12-2) failed to get a first down on their second drive as well, and Collins came right back with his fifth touchdown of the game, a three-yard leap into the end zone that pushed the lead to 38-14.

Vista Murrieta found a reason to get excited when Cody Piecukonis returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown with 5:13 left in the game. They appeared to force a fumble from Collins on the Huskies’ next drive and would have returned it for a touchdown, but the referee had blown the play dead.

Collins thought he had fumbled on the play as well.

“They smacked me pretty good,” he said. “I’ll be feeling that tonight.”

Centennial didn’t show any mercy after retaining possession, as quarterback Michael Eubank hit Larry Scott with a 16-yard touchdown pass, giving the Huskies their final 45-21 lead.

Scott was the go-to receiver in the passing game, catching eight passes for 153 yards and a touchdown.

“I thought I’d be the go-to guy because I’ve been in the previous games,” Scott said. “I had a high ankle sprain, so finally I got back to almost 100% and knew I would get a lot of catches.”

The Huskies can now sit back and wait for Sunday’s CIF bowl selections. Many predict they’ll get passed up for the open bowl bid and play Palo Alto in the Division I bowl game.

That’s just fine with Collins.

“It doesn’t matter, we’re here to play for a state championship,” Collins said. “If it’s our way, we’re going to win a state championship, we work too hard.”

Inland Empire: Games of the week

November, 18, 2010
Nobody expected Temecula Chaparral or Upland to win Southern Section titles last season either.

But then the Pumas got on a roll after finishing second in the Southwestern League and slipped by one quality opponent after another in the Inland Division playoffs, winning their first section title with a 13-7 victory against Southwestern League champ Vista Murrieta.

Over at Upland, the Highlanders squeaked into the Central Division playoffs as a wild card out of the Baseline League, then capped their championship run with a 19-7 victory against Baseline champion Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos.

Upland, now a member of the Inland Division, will host Chaparral in the opening round of playoffs Friday at 7 p.m. and, once again, both teams will enter the postseason having not fulfilled preseason expectations of winning league titles.

No worries.

The second season is here.

One of these teams is guaranteed to see their playoff hopes end in the first round, however. The other will move onto the second round and probably have their next opponent wondering: Here we go again?

Chaparral (4-6) showed as much life last Thursday in a 27-20 victory against Murrieta Valley as it has all season. Then again, the Pumas were faced with the possibility of missing the playoffs if they lost.

Antoine Arnold, considered one of the top receivers in the Inland Empire, had the best game of his injury-filled season, catching six passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns.

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