Prep Preview: Serrano at Citrus Hill

I’m covering the Phelan Serrano-Perris Citrus Hill CIF-Southern Section Eastern Division championship game tonight for The Press-Enterprise and HSGametime.pe.com. The best part about this assignment is that it’s my first ever CIF section championship game, and that it’s pretty close to my house so I don’t have to drive far.

THE LOW DOWN:
Yep. My first CIF section championship game. I’ve covered CIF finals in volleyball, water polo, swimming and wrestling, and covered many semifinal football games in my career, but never a football title game. And Citrus Hill High School is less than 12 miles from my front door, and I get to save some on gas.

SerranoLOGOThe Diamondbacks (13-0 overall) are appearing in their first championship game since 2009. The were last unbeaten heading into a final in ’04, when Coach Ray Maholchic posted their only undefeated season. This year’s offense is led by QB Daniel Epperson and TB Michael Hawkins, who have both had exceptional postseasons to this point. Epperson has passed for a touchdown, and Hawkins has rushed for at least two TDs in each of their last three games. The D’backs typically ferocious defense has a bright young star: sophomore ILB John Makesy is a player to watch in this game and beyond.

CitrusHillLOGOThe Hawks (13-0) have come as close to having a dominant season as a team can have. Coach Eric Zomalt’s unit is winning games by an average of 25 points this season, and only once trailed by more than two TDs (Week 2 vs. Riverside Arlington). I wrote about the Hawks’ seven key seniors in a feature for The P-E, and the group seemed as close as any group of seniors I’ve seemed recently. Seniors Trevor Hodge, K.J. Young and P.J. Walker do the damage on offense, while the ‘D’ has morphed into one the Inland Area’s best behind the play of MLB Marvin Williams, DE Stephen Van Hook, OLB Marcell Barnes and CBs Jack Brown and Jason Smith.

THE KEY PLAYERS:
Serrano
 — QB/FS: #11 Daniel Epperson, Sr. (6-foot, 180 pounds); TB: #2 Michael Hawkins, Sr. (6-foot, 190); FB: #42 Ryan Scribner, Jr. (6-foot, 205); TE/ROLB: #8 Kyle Jergensen, Sr. (6-2, 180); WR/SS: #5 Cade Tropila, Sr. (6-3, 180); WR/CB: #1 DeAndre Williams, Sr. (6-foot, 180); LT: #77 Shawn Shanks, Sr. (6-1, 225); LG: #68 Mark Smith, Sr. (5-11, 270); C/ILB/LS: #55 John Mackesy, Soph. (6-1, 190); RG: #51 Jacob Sherwood, Sr. (6-1, 200); RT: #65 Alex Morgan, Sr. (6-2, 270); DE: #4 Jeavjuray Henderson, Jr. (6-3, 185); NG: #97 Angel Robles, Sr. (6-3, 260); DT: #9 Brendyn Lolmaugh, Jr. (6-1, 215); LOLB: #16 Michael Morris, Jr. (5-10, 185); ILB: #29 David Cisneros, Sr. (5-7, 170); CB: #23 Drake Chiesa, Sr. (5-7, 160); K/P: #27 Oscar Contreras, Jr. (5-7, 140).

Citrus Hill — QB: #2 Trevor Hodge, Sr. (6-foot-2, 195 pounds); TB: #4 P.J. Walker, Jr. (5-10, 195); WR: #17 Justin Clarkston, Soph. (6-3, 185), #28 Donovan Lindsey, Sr. (5-9, 160), #7 K.J. Young, Sr. (6-0, 180); #10 Andrew Bradley, Jr. (5-9, 165); LT: #77 Mark “Blindside” Alexander, Jr. (6-3, 295); LG: #54 Jeremiah Benjamin, Sr. (5-8, 210); C: #72 Aaron Moreno, Jr. (6-2, 260); RG: #50 Danny Munoz, Jr. (5-11, 225); RT: #73 Joel Yanez, Jr. (6-2, 260). DL: #21 Jose Rojas, Sr. (5-11, 195); #99 Devo Martin, Sr. (5-10, 275); #44 Stephen Van Hook, Sr. (6-2, 225); LOLB: #35 Marcell Barnes, Sr. (5-11, 195); ILBs: #5 Melvin Wiliams, Sr. (6-0, 215); #12 Chris Shumm, Jr. (5-11, 190); ROLB: #45 Zach Kupka, Jr. (5-11, 195); CBs: #3 Jason Smith, Sr. (5-9, 175); #19 James Ooton, Jr. (6-3, 170); SS: # 11 Tony Yim, Sr. (5-11, 180); FS: #16 Jack Brown, Sr. (6-0, 180); K/P: #23 Diego Zendejas, Jr. (5-9, 150).

THE DIFFERENCE:
Citrus Hill’s offense is too potent, and Zomalt’s options too vast to lose. It will be close, however, because Serrano has more heart than any team they’ll play this season. Ultimately, Hodge will make a play (or five) to seal the victory.
THE FINAL SCORE: Citrus Hill 37, Serrano 28

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