Football: La Jolla High School falls to Monte Vista despite third-quarter comeback in CIF Semifinals



• Monte Vista High School Monarchs


• La Jolla High School Vikings


By Ed Piper

It looked like La Jolla High School had lightning in a bottle that had worked before. But the La Jolla Vikings’ tried-and-true third-quarter comeback in the football CIF Semifinals didn’t last, as they fell at Monte Vista High School, 41-24, Nov. 29, 2013.

La Jolla’s rapid offense, capable of high power all season, yet prone to coughs and sputters, scored three touchdowns within seven- and-a-half minutes in the third quarter: Collin Rugg’s 12-yard pass to Nic Skala down the middle, then a 26-yard run right by Eric Tims, and a 13-yard run left by Tims. These were sandwiched around a 22-yard field goal by Sergio Ortiz.

But it wasn’t to hold, as the host top-seed Monte Vista Monarchs (7-5) barreled to three ground touchdowns within four-and-a-half minutes in the final quarter to win. Monte Vista will now play Sweetwater High in the CIF Division IV finals Dec. 7, 2013 at Mesa College.

“Sometimes you just roll with it. You score points in bunches and the momentum swings,” said an emotional co-captain Connor Hayden, a senior Viking cornerback playing his final game. “The tide starts rolling your way and that’s what we were counting on. Unfortunately, we dug ourselves into too big a hole at the beginning of the game (21-0 at halftime) and we weren’t able to come back. Monte Vista is a great ball club.”

But La Jolla (5-7) has plenty to look forward to next year with a new swagger in a newly rebuilt program and several core juniors coming back for the 2015 campaign. They plan to continue to follow Coach Jason Carter’s emphasis on a daily weightlifting regimen to strengthen the two lines — offensive and defensive — and prevent injuries.

Tims, who drank a brownie-flavored power-shake for this game, has elevated his game in the playoffs. The previous week, he garnered 236 yards in the Quarterfinal win over Mater Dei Catholic High. This time, using a newfound abandon and creativity beyond what he has run with before, the senior launched for 92 yards rushing on 14 carries, besides his two touchdown runs.

Out front of him, senior All-Western League First Team selection Nic Skala stood alone when the Vikings made their last desperate efforts to counterpunch Monte Vista’s late scores. Rugg dealt him a long pass on third-and-nine with 5:38 left in the game; Skala making a phenomenal leaping grab. It looked like La Jolla could come back. On the next play, on first-and-10, Skala reeled in another Rugg aerial. But two subsequent throws to the senior wide receiver weren’t complete and the Vikings turned the ball over on downs.

Senior linebacker Bret Schuman, another co-captain, said: “The offense came alive and the defense sparked from there. Once we stopped their middle run (by bruising back Jemeil Jackson, who scored the last two TDs), they were scared, they were getting tired, they were getting hurt. We out-conditioned them the whole time. They got one big play (Jackson’s 57-yard run with 3:24 left in the game) and it was a kill shot.”

Running back Reid Martin, who finished with 62 yards rushing on 19 carries, more than 1,000 yards for the season, said: “We always come out good, we come out strong third-quarter. We did it today. We made a good comeback, I’m glad we could do that. It’s too bad we couldn’t get the ‘W’, but it was a great game.”


• Passing:

Rugg 14-37, 173 yards, 1 interception, 1 sack

• Rushing:

Eric Tims 14-92 yards. Martin 19-62 yards

• Receiving:

Skala 10-154 yards. Carlton O’Neal 3-21 yards

• 3rd down efficiency:

La Jolla 9-21, Monte Vista 4-10