Prep Football: Challenging four weeks ahead for Poway High
By Michael Bower
After finishing 12-0-1 and winning the CIF San Diego Section Division I title last season, the Poway High football team had some hope that it would be selected to a CIF State Bowl game.
But the Titans were overlooked and many figured it to be because of a lack of strength in their schedule. That won’t be a problem this year.
The Titans (1-0) will play the first of four straight grueling non-league games Friday night (kickoff is at 7) against La Costa Canyon, the fifth-ranked team in the Pomerado News Rankings.
Poway then travels to CIF SDS Division I semifinalist San Pasqual, hosts perennial section power Oceanside and then goes off to the defending CIF San Diego Section Division IV champions, Valley Center. It is a brutal stretch to say the least.
“We are excited to play these games coming up,” said Poway cornerback Derek Babiash. “We are ready for any challenge that faces us.”
Poway and La Costa Canyon (1-0) are both Division II teams, which means the outcome of the game will impact the positioning of both teams in the playoff field come November.
“Obviously, it is a big game,” Poway coach Damian Gonzalez said. “They are a great program and there are many implications since they are another Division II school. But I am not worried about the seeding right now; I am worried about winning this week.”
The Mavericks played the Titans tough last season before eventually falling 28-14. La Costa Canyon is led by blazing-quick running back Deon Dickey, who rushed for 169 yards and two touchdowns in the Mavericks’ 42-0 victory over Baldwin Park last week.
Quarterback Jake Sesti is also capable of lighting up the scoreboard, as he tossed two TD passes in the win. Those two along with a strong offensive line will present a challenge for the Poway defense.
“We are definitely not taking them lightly,” Babiash said. “I wouldn’t say there is anything that scares us about their offense, but our team has no fear, really.”
Poway picked up right where it left off last season in last week’s 42-7 win over Scripps Ranch. Running backs Nehemiah Gross and Lance Mudd combined for four touchdowns, while Babiash had two interceptions and a pair of touchdown catches from new quarterback Max Washam.
“I thought Max did a very good job controlling the game last week,” Gonzalez said. “He has a lot of weapons at his disposal and he has a solid running game with Nehemiah and Lance. Those two were just so explosive. It was really impressive.”
The Titans will need a similar effort from the two on Friday night to get past the Mavericks. But more importantly, the Poway defense will need to continue to flex its muscles.
“La Costa Canyon is very physical up front and they can run the ball and have a veteran QB,” Gonzalez said. “It will be a tough test for us.”
AT A GLANCE
No. 5 La Costa Canyon (1-0) at No. 2 Poway (1-0), Friday 7 p.m.
Last week: LCC d. Baldwin Park 42-0; Poway d. Scripps Ranch 42-7
Notes: Two powerful running games mixed in with the ability to throw the ball could make for an explosive game offensively. But the kicker is both teams also have outstanding defenses. Poway will get tailbacks Nehemiah Gross and Lance Mudd plenty of carries in this one. The two combined for four TDs last week. Also look for TE Alec Moreno and WR Derek Babiash to get their fair share of touches. QB Max Washam’s efficiency could be the difference in this game. … LCC depends heavily on the legs of speedy RB Deon Dickey. The Titans’ smothering defense has a tough task trying to contain the shifty and elusive back. QB Jake Sesti is more than capable of putting the game on his shoulders, if the Titans can slow down Dickey. … Expect this to be a close game by the time the fourth quarter rolls around. It could come down to how much each team has left in the tank by that time.
Prediction: Poway 28, LCC 17
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