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Three down, one to go

December 7, 2010

Bronco QB Chance Callahan eludes a Panther tackle. Photo by Greg Lippincott

Bishop is going to the CIF divisional championships.
No, that’s not quite right. The CIF Northeast Division championship game is coming to Bishop this Saturday, 6 p.m., at John Schwab Stadium.
The Broncos secured their place in the finals with a 44-14 win over the Pasadena Poly Panthers Friday night. They will face Boron following the Bobcats 18-7 victory over Vasquez last Saturday.
“We have our work cut out for us,” said coach Bill Egan. “We have to bring our best game. Boron is a very aggressive, very physical team. But, we can bring that style of play too.”
The Bobcats run the ball and have three strong backs, Lamar Martin, Reggie Heard and Dedrick Payne, who have scored 32 of the team’s 52 touchdowns this season. Heard also claims 10 TDs as a wide receiver. Boron has run rough shod over its league opponents, just like the Broncos devastated the High Desert League.
Containing the Bobcats’ running backs will be the key for the Broncos this Saturday, according to Egan. Containing the Broncos multi-weapon offense will be the challenge for Boron.
That’s a challenge no one but the Knights from Bishop’s of La Jolla has been able to live up to this year. Like the Broncos, the undefeated Knights will be playing in their CIF San Diego Sectional championship game this Saturday.
“The kids were satisfied to see the team in the finals,” said Egan, “but they weren’t ecstatic. They know they have one more game to go. That’s a very positive attitude to have.
“You set goals at the beginning of the season. The first goal was to win the league championship. When we did that, the next goal was to win the whole thing and they’ve been working hard” toward that goal, Egan said.

The Semi-Final Game
The Broncos had to work hard for the first half of the contest with the Poly Panthers. At 6-foot 5-inches, Poly quarterback Hunter Merryman is a big, resilient athlete; back Blake Edwards runs like a turbo-charged fire plug.
Both teams pulled out their considerable weapons on the first series of plays of the game. Starting on their own 40-yard line, the Panthers were held to a one-yard gain before punting the ball away. The Broncos made better progress with a 15-yard run by Aaron Puls. Jacob Scott was in the right place at the right time, catching a tipped Chance Callahan pass and picking up 12 more yards to get Bishop into Poly territory.
Runs by Kiko Gonzalez, Puls and Callahan moved Bishop into the Panther’s red zone, but their luck ran out. A bobbled snap was recovered for a 7-yard loss. Cody Rigney set up for a three-pointer at 4th and 10 at the 25, but a 5-yard delay of game penalty moved the tee into nearly-impossible territory. Rigney’s 45-yard field goal attempt failed, giving the Panthers the ball on their own 20.
Shaine Thomson, Steve Orihuela and Puls held Edwards to short gains; Poly went four downs and punted.
Bishop started their second drive from their own 40. Kyle Goin slammed through the middle of the Panthers’ line just past midfield. From 39-yards out, Callahan, behind a Puls block, headed for the side lines and was spun down by Panthers’ defense inside the goal line. Rigney added the extra point and the Broncos were on the scoreboard with a 7-0 lead.
Edwards cut loose on the kick return, gaining extra yardage behind the Panthers blocks. A 15-yard facemask penalty against Bishop set the ball at midfield. Merryman handed off to Edwards, but Ermilo Arias held him to a two-yard gain. On the next play, a well-protected Merryman had time to find a receiver in Jack Porter and Poly matched Bishop with a 7-7 tie on a 49-yard pass play.
Jaime Ruelas returned the kick-off to the 36-yard line. On the first play, Callahan pulled off his signature fake, Gonzalez ended up with the ball and headed to the goal line for a 64-yard TD. Score: 14-7.
The Panthers tried to match the Broncos with an explosive 16-yard run by Edwards and a bomb to Porter, broken up by Ruelas. Edwards ran into a wall of Broncos for a gain of one-yard; Merryman tried another pass, but it was called incomplete after Goin stripped the ball from the receiver.
The Panthers lined up for a punt at 4th and 9. As the punter, Merryman took the snap, then passed to Edwards. Ruelas made the stop short of the first down and the Broncos started the second quarter at the Panthers’ 41.
Poly’s defense stepped up the pressure on the next drive. On a quarterback keeper, Callahan moved the ball to the 30. Alec Simpson dragged what looked like half the Panthers’ defense for a first at the 23, where the Panther defense put up an impenetrable wall. The Broncos had to settle for a Rigney field goal and a 10-point lead at 17-7.
Merryman was chased into the waiting arms of Arias on the first play of the Panther’s drive. The Poly QB gained 16-yards on a run, but the Broncos’ Arias, Puls, Thomson and Goin put a stop to Poly’s drive.
With a 16-yard kick return by Callahan, the Broncos started a two-minute drive from near midfield. Runs by Goin advanced the ball to the Panthers’ 14. Goin completed the drive with a 14-yard run. Score 24-7.
With the clock running down, Goin intercepted a pressured Merryman pass giving the Broncos the ball at the Panthers’ 20. With less than 10 seconds in the half, Rigney completed a 24-yard field goal and the Broncos headed to the locker room with a 20-point lead at 27-7.
On the first Broncos’ drive of the second half, Bishop fought their way back from 1st and 15 with a 5-yard run from Puls and two sprints by Callahan. Another high snap on the Panthers’ 26, pushed the Broncos into another 2nd and long situation. With Gonzalez in as quarterback, the Broncos gained 14-yards, but settled for another successful Rigney field goal. Score: 30-7.
After four downs and a punt, the Broncos had the ball again at midfield. Despite a 43-yard pass play to Simpson, Bishop ended the drive with a blocked field goal and a turn over on downs.
The Panthers’ offense was decimated by the Broncos defense, four downs and a punt. The Broncos offense came back on the Panthers’ 41-yard line with less than a minute left in the quarter. A pass to Rigney moved the ball to the 8, from there Puls bounced off Poly tackles and into the end zone. Score: 37-7.
In the first five minutes of the final quarter, the Panthers pushed to the Broncos 4-yard line. Merryman completed the drive with a TD, bringing the score to 37-14.
On their second possession of the quarter with just over three minutes on the game clock, the Broncos put the game away. Callahan handed off to Ruelas who ran for a 72-yard TD giving Bishop a 30-point lead and a final score of 44-14.

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