For the Coronado Islanders football team, Friday nights provide an opportunity to go out there and prove something. And this past Friday the Islander team not only had the chance to move to 3-1 by taking down their cross-town rival Mar Vista High School, but they also had the chance to pick up the critical win on CHS Senior Night. Pre-game, the team honored senior players:
Connor Little, Logan Eastlick, Elias Valdivia, Jonathan Rotherham, Steven Davis, Jaden Banner, Seth Stine, Cooper Cline, Ty Pusch, JT Nelson, Nathan Cohenca, Saxton Sylvester, Jordan Mendoza, Kieran Ramirez, JP Benoit, Jocain Howard, Michael Cordell.
“This is truly a special group of young men,” said Islander Football Head Coach Kurt Hines. “They’ve played together for years, they work hard, they motivate each other, and they are really clicking. It has been an honor to coach these young men.”
For the past two games, the Islanders had struggled to put up points early, and with a heavy stream of rain coming down Friday night, some may have expected that trend to continue. But they would be mistaken.
After two excellent defensive stands by the Islanders, highlighted by TFLs by Elias Valdivia and Steven Davis, the Islander offense would find a spark on their third drive of the night.
Starting on their 25-yard line, QB Graham Bower would get things started early with a 22-yard rush. That 22-yard gain would be followed up by a 17-yard run, this one again by Bower to move the ball inside the Mar Vista 30.
Coronado would pick up one more first down on the ground before Bower would again call his own number, followed a great lead block by Landon Sutherland, and weaved his way into the endzone for an 11-yard TD run, giving the Islanders the early 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Coronado defense would keep the Islander momentum rolling as on the ensuing Mar Vista possession, Coronado would force a three-and-out thanks to back-to-back pass break ups by CB Jaden Banner and LB JT Nelson.
Following the defensive stand-by, the Islander offense would march right back onto the field and pick up where they left off. Starting on their own 30-yard-line, Coronado would again start their drive with two well-executed zone runs; one by Valdivia for 17-yards and the other a 20-yard carry by Sutherland. Yet again moving the ball inside the Mariners’ 30-yard line. Coronado would again use their zone run scheme, and this time it would be Steven Davis breaking one off for a 20-yard pickup to move the ball inside the 10, where just one play later, QB Bower would again take one in from 10-yards out for the Islander TD making it a 14-0 game at the half.
“All of our running backs did a great job on Friday night,” Hines said. “I always tell our guys when you’re carrying the ball either make ’em miss or make’ em pay. On top of that we did a great job on our offensive line winning our assignments and imposing our will. It was great to see.”
While the Islanders had control after one half, Mar Vista would come out strong after the break, going on a six-play, 70-yard TD that would make it a 14-7 game with 5:39 to play in the third quarter.
However, the comeback feeling for Mar Vista would be relatively short-lived. On the ensuing kickoff, Steven Davis would field the kick at his own 15, following his blockers, break a pair of would-be Mar Vista tackles and take the kick-off to the house for an 85-yard kick return TD and making it a 20-7 game.
“Steven has stepped up big time this year,” said Hines. “He’s one of our captains this year and he has put in a ton of work. He always knows his assignments, other assignments and he studies the playbook so well. He is a difference maker for us.”
Mar Vista would mount one more touchdown drive in their ensuing possession to make it a 20-13 game, but it would not matter. As for every counter punch that Mar Vista offered in the second half, the Islanders would have an answer.
Following the Mar Vista TD, Coronado would need only four plays to hit pay dirt again, thanks to a 40-yard TD pass from freshman QB Trey Arnold to Connor Little. On the pass, Little would rise above two Mar Vista Defenders in the back of the endzone to come down with the circus catch extending the lead to 27-13. An exclamation point to what had been the Islanders’ best offensive show this season.
In the final quarter, the Islanders defense would pitch a shutout, with highlights coming from Saxton Sylvester and Logan Eastlick, who would both record tackles for loss. With 6:15 to play, pressure from Valdivia would force a poor throw that would land in the waiting arms of Jordan Mendoza for the clinching interception.
The INT would seal the 27-13 senior night victory for the Islanders and move them to 3-1. The Islanders will be back in action this week as they have a home non-conference game vs. La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla, CA) on Friday, September 16 at 7 pm.
“I’ve been coaching football for 25 years now and La Jolla Country Day is one of the most interesting teams I’ve ever gone up against,” said Hines. “They only run the ball about 10 times a game, at most. They love to air it out. They have a big, tall and strong armed QB who can move. We will need to stay disciplined in our rush lanes and do a good job in coverage all game. It should be a fun matchup.”