Cathedral Catholic earns state title with win over Folsom
Mirer throws for two TDs, runs for another and defense steps up to lead Dons to third state championship
Almost three years to the day, Cathedral Catholic faced Folsom for a state football championship, let the game slip into overtime, watched a receiver drop what would have been a game-winning touchdown in the end zone and took a long bus ride home as losers.
On a cold Friday night at Saddleback College, the football powers met again with a state title on the line. This time by the end the Dons were partying hard, celebrating a 33-21 win in the Division 1-AA title game.
Coupled with titles in 2010 and 2016, it’s Cathedral’s third state championship.
“It feels every bit as good as the first two,” said Cathedral head coach Sean Doyle.
A week earlier, Cathedral (12-2) advanced to the state championship game with a wild 71-62 win over Orange Lutheran. It was a long night for Dons defensive coordinator John Montali, who watched his side give up 646 yards.
Against Folsom (11-4), the defense turned in a memorable performance, holding the Bulldogs 15 points below their average.
“I feel tired,” said Montali amidst the bedlam on the field. “I probably put in the longest week of preparation in my 29 years as a coach. After the way we played last week it was unacceptable. We put time in in the classroom, time on the field, time studying film.
“We were able to execute as a defense and it feels good.”
The defense contributed to the scoring. Leading 13-7 at halftime, the Dons went three and out on their first possession.
On Folsom’s next offensive play, junior linebacker Victory Johnson stepped in front of a receiver, intercepted the pass and sped 36 yards to a touchdown for a 20-7 lead.
“I visualized it,” said Johnson. “We all think about making big plays. I read the play-action, picked it off and ran it in. It was amazing.”
The Dons have relied on running back Lucky Sutton all season and the senior didn’t disappoint in the biggest game of the season. After Folsom took the game’s opening drive for a touchdown, Sutton stepped up.
On Cathedral’s second offensive play of the game, Sutton took a handoff off left tackle, broke two arm tackles, veered right and darted off for a 73-yard touchdown run.
“Folsom scored right off the bat,” said Sutton. “I couldn’t let them run away. I had to do what I do.”
Sutton finished with 232 yards on 30 carries and the one touchdown. He finished the season with a section-leading 2,712 yards and 41 touchdowns. The Dons had 52 rushing plays. None of them lost yardage.
Defensively, Folsom focused a lot of attention on Sutton and wound up paying the price. Quarterback Charlie Mirer completed only 4 of 9 passes for 59 yards. But two of the completions went to Rex Haynes for touchdowns covering 19 and 22 yards.
“When you put that much focus on one person sometimes others can beat you,” said Doyle. “We’ve got a lot of weapons and it showed. We’re blessed.”
Mirer, not exactly an option threat, even got into the running act. Leading 26-21 with less than five minutes to play, the Dons faced a fourth and one on the Folsom 28. Mirer kept the ball on a quarterback sneak, was shoved forward by Sutton, then emerged from a scrum for a 28-yard TD run.
The unlikely score all but clinched the win.
“I only wanted one yard, but I’ll take 28,” said Doyle.
“I just kept my legs moving, it opened up, I kept moving and I don’t really know what happened,” said Mirer.
As is their tradition, the Dons sprinted to the stands in front of their student section after the game and began singing Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.”
Players took turns grabbing the wooden trophy that’s shaped like California, rubbing it and kissing it.
“I dreamed about this when I was a freshman,” said Sutton. “It’s crazy. It feels surreal and very satisfying.”
Cathedral Catholic 33, Folsom 21
Folsom 7 0 7 7 — 21
Cathedral Catholic 6 7 13 7 — 33
F — McMillan 2 pass from T. Tremain (J. Tremain kick), 6:21
CC — Sutton 73 run (kick failed), 5:54
CC — Haynes 19 pass from Mirer (Cheek kick), 11:31
CC — Johnson 36 interception return (Cheek kick), 10:07
F — McMillan 36 pass from T. Tremain (J. Tremain kick), 7:52
CC — Haynes 22 pass from Mirer (pass failed), 3:32
F — Maxey-Parler 1 run (J. Tremain kick), 10:18
CC — Mirer 28 run (Cheek kick), 4:29
First downs 18 22
Total net yards 293 375
Rushing 40 316
Passing 253 59
Comp-Att-Int 24-36-2 4-9-0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 2-20 4-33
RUSHING: Folsom: T. Tremain 5-29 , Maxey-Plarler 6-11. Cathedral Catholic: Sutton 30-232, Whaley 12-52, Bond 3-16, Letuli 3-13.
PASSING: Folsom: T. Tremain 23-35-251-2, Mack 1-1-20. Cathedral Catholic: Mirer 4-9-59-0.
RECEIVING: Folsom: Flores 9-106, McMillan 6-91, Norberg 4-41, Arnaz 3-10. Cathedral Catholic: Haynes 2-41, Wahley 2-18.
INTERCEPTIONS: Folsom: None. Cathedral Catholic: Dockery 1, Johnson 1.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Folsom: None. Cathedral Catholic: None.
SACKS: Folsom: Eklund 1. Cathedral Catholic: Fortune 1.
Norcross is a freelance writer.
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