Vista Murrieta Loses CIF Championship Game to Diablos

Vista Murrieta High defenders Brandon Worthy (31) and Messiah Tyler (25) wrap up Mission Viejo's Rome Innocenzi. Story by Daniel ...

Vista Murrieta High defenders Brandon Worthy (31) and Messiah Tyler (25) wrap up Mission Viejo's Rome Innocenzi.

Story by Daniel Millhouse
Photos by Kristi Jo Aguirre

With 7,344 people in attendance at Angels Stadium and an atmosphere similar to that of a college football game, Vista Murrieta High School battled the Diablos of Mission Viejo Saturday afternoon but lost a 21-10 decision  in the CIF Southern Section West Valley Division championship game.

"There were some nerves and we were a little anxious," Vista Murrieta quarterback Kyle Williams (below right) said after the game, before stopping to hold back his emotions. Like many of his teammates, losing the game was hard for Williams to talk about.

Making it to their sixth CIF-SS championship game in a row, the Broncos (11-3) had hoped to win their first title since 2011. In their way was Mission Viejo, which entered the game looking for its sixth championship in school history.

Unfortunately for Vista Murrieta, the Diablos (12-2) played smash-mouth style football, which proved to be too much for the Broncos to stop. First-team All-South Coast League running back Rome Innocenzi put the Diablos on his shoulders and carried the ball 27 times for 134 yards and a touchdown.

Despite the nervousness of some of the Vista Murrieta players, the defense stepped up in the first quarter and kept the game scoreless, even though the offense had trouble stepping up.

The first score of the game didn't come until the second quarter, when Innocenzi scored on a 14-yard touchdown with 10:34 on the clock.

After an interception at their own 18-yard line by junior defensive back Dwayne Johnson, the Broncos put their first points on the board on a 31-yard Jared Gallegos field goal (left).

With 1:11 left before halftime, Mission Viejo struck again when senior quarterback Brock Johnson hit future USC receiver Connor Hill with a pass and dragged the Broncos' Messiah Tyler with him into the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown pass. The Diablos led 14-3 at the half.

Though down at halftime, Vista Murrieta was not about to quit. Two games ago, in the second round of the playoffs, the Broncos were down to powerhouse Tesoro High School, 24-0 at halftime, before coming back to win, 28-27.

The second half was no different for the Broncos' defense. They held the Diablos to only seven more points in the last two quarters of play, but were held down for most of the second half themselves until the Broncos offense scored on a trick play.

In what originally looked to be a sweep left by senior Seth Acda, the running back flipped the ball to wide receiver Colin Baker. Taking the ball all the way to the right side and fooling the Diablos' defense into believing it was a reverse before crossing the line of scrimmage, Baker threw the ball to senior tight end Jamie Nunley in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass, putting the score at 21-10 with 3:13 left in the game.

Vista Murrieta was never able to get the ball back before time expired, giving the Diablos their first championship win in 12 years.

"Making it to the championship is nothing new around here," Nunley said. "Six years in a row, but not really being able to finish it up and win, hurts really bad."

Mission Viejo was able to rush for 166 yards overall, compared to the Broncos' 160 yards of total offense. Only 44 of Vista Murrieta's total yardage was from running the ball, which usually has been a strength of their offense.

"We got beat today because they physically dominated us in the front seven -- offensive line and defensive line," said coach Coley Candaele (right) in summing up the game. "They whupped us and hence they dominated the game."

Standout players for Vista Murrieta included Tyler, who led the Broncos with 10 tackles; Brandon Worthy, who had 9 tackles and a sack; and Dwayne Johnson, who had 6 tackles and an interception. On offense, Nunley led the team with 5 receptions for 26 yards and a touchdown, and Williams completed 9 passes on 15 attempts for 106 yards.

"It's always bitter. We've been in the championship game six years in a row and we lost five of them," Candaele said of his team's championship appearance run. "Obviously, that's a problem."






Vista Murrieta tight end Jamie Nunley holds onto a pass reception during the first half.



Vista coach Coley Candaele (right) is presented the runner-up placque by a CIF official.


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