With the Poway High varsity football team defeating San Pasqual in the San Diego Section Division I semifinals on Thursday night, the Titans once again are set to play at Qualcomm Stadium in a championship game, and for the first time since 2007 they do so with an undefeated record.
I attended all of the home games my sophomore year at Poway in 2007, including the championship game, and I've watched the highlights from all of of this season's games as well as attending the last two.
With both teams being undefeated, the ’07 team at 12-0 and the ’11 edition now 11-0-1, it begs the question: How similar are the two teams and does it foreshadow another D-1 title for the Titans?
When asked about the similarities of the two teams after the Titans' win, coach Damian Gonzalez said he did see some, citing the “confidence they play with.”
Attitude and confidence are absolutely one. Both teams would show up to the game knowing they would win; it was just a matter of by how much. The ’07 team won by an average of 17.5 points (three scores) and the current team has won by 22.9 (three scores if two-point conversions are factored in).
And to address the issues of schedule comparison, each team played five of its regular-season games against the same schools. Though the players on the teams are different, the school's talent level usually stays around the same level.
If you look at how the teams scored and the similarities in stats between the running backs, quarterbacks and wide receivers, they are eerily similar.
Tynan Murray, quarterback for the 2007 team, passed for 1,065 yards, with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. Gabriel Isaak, this season's quarterback, has passed for 1,267 yards, with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Nick Ricciardulli, the lead running back in '07, ran 253 times for 1,442 yards and 21 touchdowns. The combination of Nehemiah Gross and Ryan Moreno has run 214 times for 1,349 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Jared Relyea, ’07 wide receiver, caught 35 passes for 520 yards and six touchdowns. Isaiah Gross, ’11 receiver, has caught 26 passes for 412 yards and five touchdowns.
The players in the important positions on the offense this fall have put up very similar numbers to their ’07 counterparts.
On defense, there aren’t as many similarities individually, but as a unit they had a similar number of tackles. And the ’11 team has significantly more sacks (42 to 27) and defensive touchdowns (eight to three). One of the major differences is points allowed per game. The ’07 team gave up 10.9 per game to the current squad's 13.6.
When looking at these stats, it should be noted that the Titans didn’t play their Week 8 game against La Costa Canyon because of the Witch Creek Fire in 2007, so they will have played one less game than this year’s team will play. So as a result the numbers cited here will, hopefully, compare even more favorably after the game on Monday.
In deciding which team is better, it's hard to judge because of all the extraneous factors. Does the ’07 team get more credit because it got more national attention with a game televised live on ESPN U, and does the current team's tie count against it? And what about the regular season game the ’07 team didn’t play?
Is the 2011 team better than the 2007 team? Until this year’s team wins the D-1 championship game against Vista, it's is hard to say definitively. But if the current Titans do win, they're better because they had the same number of wins, won the same championship trophy and had a statically better year than their ’07 brethren.
This argument isn’t what the current Titan team is thinking about. They've had their sights set on one thing since the start of the season. What the players are thinking about is their opponent, the third-seeded Panthers, and how to beat them.
“Now we have a chance to go undefeated and go to Qualcomm,” said senior defensive lineman Brian Guendling. “And we're not just going to go to Qualcomm, we're going to win it.
Look for the Titans to score in the mid-20s to low-30s and for the defense to continue to provide pressure and panic on Vista's offense—and for Poway to win the second D-1 football championship in school history.
Four important NFL matchups
San Diego Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars: The Monday night game features two terrible teams, both of which are candidates to move to LA, and both are looking at a season without playoffs. The Chargers are looking for their young running back to continue to develop into an every-down back and the Jaguars are looking for their young quarterback to develop into a legitimate starter. The Bolts will have trouble containing running back Maurice Jones-Drew, but they should have success on offense if they don’t turn the ball over.
Atlanta Falcons @ Houston Texans: The Texans, who were looking to capitalize on the Colts' demise, face another injury in the quarterbacking position and now have to use their third-string quarterback against a Falcons team that is looking to keep up with the Saints. The Texans can rely on their running game with star Arian Foster, but will have to find a way to utilize receiver Andre Johnson. The Falcons will need quarterback Matt Ryan to complete at least 65% of his passes and Michael Turner get the short third-down conversions.
Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants: The undefeated Packers look to continue their reign atop the NFL and the Giants don’t look like the team that is going to stop them. After getting beat by the Saints, the Giants look like a team that doesn’t care, with lackluster efforts from key players. The Packers have a high-octane offense that can score at will and a defense that has yet to be tested, but can stop the other team more than the other team can stop the Packers' offense.
Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints: With the Lions likely without defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, the Saints have an easier time on offense. But their biggest question will be whether they can pressure Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and hit the fragile leader a few times. The Lions will need to have a solid running game no matter who the starting running back is.
Observations from the week that was Nov. 25 to Dec 1
A Poway High alumna made this video about the five recent deaths of students. Warning: you will cry.
Because they are rich, athletic and were locked out of the NBA, LeBron James and Kevin Durant had a seven-on-seven flag football game, which was broadcast on the internet and featured real referees. Surprisingly, LeBron didn’t choke in the fourth quarter…
New Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was the first to create a food item.
First, who spends $20,000 on Christmas gifts? Second, how would you not realize it was missing?
LSU coach Les Miles comments on a comment his player made on twitter, or he might not have—somebody might have replied to the wrong tweet…
You know those foreign news videos where they animate the people involved—well Ndamukung Suh has now been immortalized.
Two huge thumbs up for Yelawolf’s new album “Radioactive,” and I would highly recommend the Spotify Premium, especially if you have a smartphone.
For the record
Chargers 21, Jaguars 17
BONUS: Titans 28, Panthers 10