CORONA — Mission Viejo football team prepared itself against stiff competition all season.
Take your pick.
Its schedule featured Alemany, Long Beach Poly, Sierra Canyon and Servite, just to name a few.
But the Diablos’ opponent on Friday night was on a different level.
Corona Centennial manhandled Mission Viejo 62-16 in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinals.
“We knew on film this was a very good football team,” Diablos coach Chad Johnson said of Centennial. “We felt like they were better than any team we played this year.”
Centennial entered the night with 10 straight wins and outscoring their opponents by an average of 49.1 points per game.
And it didn’t take long for the offense to flex its muscles.
On the fourth play of the game Centennial quarterback Izzy Carter scored on a 32-yard read option run.
The Huskies use the combination of quarterbacks Carter and Carson Conklin who alternates each possession. Conklin’s first possession resulted in turning the ball over to Mission Viejo that ultimately led to a 16-yard run by Kenny Manassero to tie the game.
Centennial answered with another big play, this time Carter finding wide receiver Malachi Riley on a 24-yard pass into the corner of the end zone.
“This kind of reminded me of the Servite game to be honest with you,” Johnson said, reminiscing about the Diablos’ 44-7 loss in week 2. “There were a lot of self-inflicted wounds.
Early in the second quarter Mission Viejo scored its second touchdown where quarterback Kadin Semonza’s flea-flicker pass set up a 1-yard run by fullback Daniel Dominguez.
The Diablos’ point after attempt was blocked and soon after, Centennial’s offense came to life.
The Huskies started a run made up of 28 unanswered points with big play after big play.
Conklin found senior wide receiver Nathan Jimenez that set up a score by Jayson Cortes to extend the lead to eight points and then minutes later Carter took the reins of the offense and broke free for a 53-yard quarterback touchdown run.
Conklin added a touchdown pass to Jimenez and the Huskies held a commanding 35-13 halftime lead.
“The front was lopsided on both sides of the ball,” Johnson said. “They were a lot bigger than us and as the game went on we knew we were going to be in trouble.”
Centennial’s momentum didn’t stop in the second half.
Conklin added a 42-yard touchdown run while Center threw his second touchdown pass, this time to senior Demarieon Young.
Center finished with 125 rushing yards on just six carries while Conklin rushed for 53 yards on three carries.
Mission Viejo added a field goal but the comeback was too far out of view.
“Centennial has something to prove,” Manassero said. “They wanted to prove that they were the best public school and they did that today.”
Despite the loss Mission Viejo finished with nine wins, a South Coast League title and will return Semonza, a trio of receivers in Mikey Matthews, Jackson Holman, KJ Reed and sophomore linebacker Jack Matranga.
“We had a phenomenal football season,” Johnson said. “Our senior played well all year long, but tonight we knew we were up against a tough one and I was right. I hate being right, but I was right.”
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