Texas might have larger crowds and bigger stadiums for high school football games, but when Corona Centennial and Bellflower St. John Bosco get together, Southern California is second to none in drama and quality of play.
On the day after Thanksgiving, when everyone decided to take a breather from buying, the crowd at Cerritos College could hardly get a breath. There were six lead changes in the fourth quarter alone in this Southern Section Division 1 semifinal that St. John Bosco finally won, 49-47.
The Braves got a crucial fourth-down stop with 2 minutes 24 seconds left to take possession on their own 43-yard line, and they ran out the clock.
After St. John Bosco scored on its first possession of the third quarter to open a 28-14 lead, Centennial scored the next 20 points, grabbing a 34-28 lead with 11:11 left on Tanner McKee’s 29-yard touchdown scramble.
Then Berkeley Holman returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, and the Braves led, 35-34. McKee struck again, firing a 40-yard touchdown pass to Justin Fisher for a 41-35 Centennial lead. Then Re-al Mitchell found Terrell Bynum for a 50-yard touchdown pass and a 42-41 Braves lead. Miles Reed followed with a 59-yard touchdown run for a 47-42 Centennial lead. Then Mitchell sprinted 63 yards for a touchdown with 5:11 left for a 49-47 lead.
St. John Bosco Coach Jason Negro wasn’t kidding before the game when he said of recent Centennial-St. John Bosco meetings, “They’ve been amazing.”
In 2013, it was 70-49, Bosco. In the 2014 Pac-5 final, it was 48-41, Centennial. Last year, it was 62-52, Centennial. And Friday night might have topped them all in drama.
St. John Bosco tried to bring back some magic from its 16-0 national championship season of 2013. The Braves brought out the special black uniforms (with the hard-to-read numbers) the team wore three times that season.
Centennial wasn’t impressed at the outset. The Huskies scored on their first two drives, making it 11 consecutive touchdowns for the first string in their last two games, to take a 14-0 lead. Troy Spencer caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from McKee and Fisher caught a 10-yard TD pass.
Then St. John Bosco went to its power running game, and Demetrious Flowers scored on a one-yard plunge to cap a 12-play drive, making it 14-7. Centennial still looked in control until sophomore Jake Bailey finally stopped a Huskies drive, making an interception early in the second quarter as Centennial appeared headed for another TD.
Momentum abruptly changed, and the Braves got a big boost in confidence. Another one-yard TD run from Flowers and a 30-yard touchdown catch from Bynum sent them into halftime with a 21-14 lead. Jacob Callier slammed Reed for a two-yard loss on third down to stop another Centennial drive.