CIF football playoffs: La Jolla High gets berth in Division II title game with victory over Mira Mesa

La Jolla's Makai Smith (2) takes on the Mira Mesa defense in the CIF San Diego Section Division II semifinals Nov. 19.
(Courtesy of Stephanie Montion Marquez)

La Jolla High School has saved its best for when it counts the most. The Vikings advanced to the Division II championship game of the CIF San Diego Section football tournament with a 27-14 semifinal victory over Mira Mesa on Nov. 19.

The win sets up a title showdown with Scripps Ranch (10-1 overall), which defeated Rancho Bernardo 28-7 in the semifinals.

The championship game will be played at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26, at Escondido High School.

In a regular-season matchup Aug. 27, Scripps Ranch edged La Jolla 52-51.

The Vikings beat the Falcons in the division finals in 2019.

“We are going to talk about the present and what we need to do. We don’t want to live in the past. It’s a new year,” Vikings head coach Tyler Roach said. “Our guys are excited for the opportunity. So just like we did in the semis, we have to execute on all phases of the game.”

This season, the Vikings struggled to a 3-7 record during the regular schedule and went into the playoffs on a four-game losing streak. But they defeated Valley Center in the quarterfinals Nov. 12.

Then against Mira Mesa, they rolled up 441 yards to just 156 for the Marauders and collected four turnovers.

“We had a great week in practice, which is always what it boils down to,” Roach said. “Our coaches put together a great game plan and players bought in and executed at a high level. We knew we were going to need offense, defense and special teams, and we won on all three.”

And they did it without No. 1 quarterback Jackson Stratton, who injured a shoulder earlier in the year, was hurt in the quarterfinal game and sat out the semis.

“He battled back after his injury and played the last game of the regular season and the first game for us in the postseason, [but] he took a couple of hard hits and thankfully didn’t reinjure his shoulder, but he wanted to protect it,” Roach said. “He was rehabbing hard all week but just didn’t have it [for the semifinals].”

The Vikings turned to backup QB Kevin Steel, who completed 16 of 23 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns, plus rushed for 25 yards.

Mason Powers caught seven passes for 193 yards and two TDs, plus intercepted a pass. Justin Scully had 110 yards of total offense, plus made 10 tackles.

Roach said it would be a “game-day decision” as to who will start at quarterback in the championship game. “We know Jackson wants to be there, but Kevin is going to prepare just in case,” he said.

— The San Diego Union-Tribune contributed to this report.