Broncos blank Flashes, to meet No. 1 St. Margaret’s in semis

A couple of fine victories by the Bishop Union High School Football team in the CIF-Southern Section Toyota Football Championships have put the Broncosexactly where they wantto be – playing perhaps the best small-school football programin the country.

To get there, Bishop played its best game of the season in a 29-0 quarterfinal (second-round) victory over visiting Fillmore in the East Valley Divisionlast Friday night at John Schwab field, an impressive home win in front of a large andappreciative Thanksgiving crowd, this after having to travel in a 21-20 first-round win the week before against Brentwood.

Coming up for the Broncos: No. 1-seed St. Margaret’s of San Juan Capistrano, which last December won the CIF State BowlSmall School title game. Evena year later, being the best small-school team in California could very well mean the best small-school team in United States. The Broncos (8-4) will host theTartans (11-1)Saturday with a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Bishop head coachBill Egan and his Broncos had studieda lot of Fillmore gamevideo duringthe week, and it certainly appeared to pay off. Bishopschools were off the entire Thanksgiving week,giving Egan and his coaching staff – Tom Carter, Randy Smith, Alan Partridge and Chris Matteson- time to help the Broncos prepare forNo. 4 seed Fillmore, (8-4 overall, 4-0, 1st place Frontier League.

The Broncos dominated from the opening kickoff. Bishop’s opening drive culminated in a two-yard touchdown reception by Alec Simpson from quarterback Chance Erwin, who lined up as a running back and took a handoff from Chance Callahan and quickly found Simpson for the offbeat TD.

The Broncos then couldn’t take advantage of an interception by Bishop senior Kyle Goin, but a series later did convert on a touchdown after a toughsnap on a punt by the Flashes. Two plays later – a great run by Erwin and 10-yard TD scamper by Aaron Puls – and the Broncos were up 14-0.

Bishop extended its lead in the second quarter on a solid drive highlighted by a long pass from Erwin to Callahan before a 1-yard TD run by Erwin. A two-point conversion from Erwin to Kiko Gonzales gave Bishop a 22-0 lead going into halftime.

The lone score of the second half came on a 51-yard TD pass from Erwin to Puls.

Bishop’s defense was outstanding, stuffing a Fillmore offense that had averaged 47 points a game in its previous five games.

Leading the Broncos were defensive endSimpson, playing perhaps his best game of the season, and cornerback Kenny Chandler, with several nice open-field tackles as a run-stopper.

Outside linebackers Ermilo Arias and Kiko Gonzales were excellent, as always.Noseguard Jose Arias had another outstanding game. Also making solid plays for Bishop were Puls, Erwin, Callahan, Goin, Jake Doonan, Scott Jaegers, and Cody Rigney, who also had another stellar game as the Broncos’ kickoff man and punter.

Also contributing to the Bishop victory, among others,were Shayne Thompson, Blake Hubbard, James Mora, Shane Sharpe and ThumpsaShoshone.

Now it’s on the semifinals and an imposing St. Margaret’s squad. The Tartans have won three straight CIF-SS section titles, the last two in the East Valley Division, after takingthe Northeast Division in 2006. St. Margaret’s had won 44 straight games (including two wins against Mammoth) before losing to Francis Parker of the San Diego Section earlier this season, the only blemish in an 11-1 season.

St. Margaret’s, coached by the famous Harry Welch,shut out Aquinas last Friday 35-0 and has outscored its two playoff opponents 68-6.

The St. Margaret’s-Bishop winner will face the winner of Ontario Christian and Grace Brethren. Ontario Christian beat No. 2-seed Maranatha 28-24, while Grace Brethren scored a 28-26 win against Oak Hills, which knocked off No. 3-seed andHDL champ Kern Valley in the first round.

Interestingly, the final four in the East Valley Division has just one team that was ranked in the final top 10 poll, No. 1 St. Margaret’s. Bishop and Ontario Christian were in the “Others” category, meaning they had received at least one vote, while Grace Brethren wasn’t even listed. Most coaches say they don’t pay much attention to the Top 10 polls during the season, and this could be evidence why they don’t.

However, in three of the 13 CIF-SS 11-man divisions, the top four seeds have advanced to the semifinals. So, all things considered, we can safely say, “It’s high school football, unexpected and fun things happen.”

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