Football: Running games leads Washington to first AAA title since 2003

Washington junior running back Lajarie Mabrey breaks through the Balboa defense in the CIF-San Francisco Section/Academic Athletic Association championship game on Thursday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Tawnya Gray)

By Jeremy Balan

Washington High School got to Turkey Day with a run-heavy attack, but the Eagles looked like an entirely different team early in the CIF-San Francisco Section/Academic Athletic Association championship game against Balboa on Thursday at Kezar Stadium.

The Eagles’ first four plays from scrimmage resulted in four incompletions, but Washington quickly reverted to the form that led them to the championship game, amassing 303 yards on the ground in a decisive 36-6 win over the Buccaneers. The win gives the Eagles their first AAA title since 2003.

“The were giving us the pass somewhat [early],” said Washington head coach Karl Finley, who won his first Turkey Day title in his fourth year at the helm of the program. “Then we switched up on our formation and did some good things.”

The Eagles (10-2) got an explosive performance from junior Lajarie Mabrey, who ran for a game-high 172 yards on 11 carries, including runs of 65, 46 and 37 yards.

“I was just running hard,” Mabrey said. “I’m ready to come back next year and do it again.”

While Mabrey provided the big plays, senior Jeremy Jetton carried most of the load for the Eagles, as he has for most of the season. Jetton ran for 98 yards on 16 carries, including a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Washington senior running back Jeremy Jetton tries to break through a tackle in the CIF-San Francisco Section/Academic Athletic Association championship game on Thursday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Tawnya Gray)

“Right now, I’m ready to cry with my coaches,” Jetton said. “We got here and got blown out in my freshman and sophomore years, and we all promised the coaches we would be here in our senior season.”

Washington only outgained Balboa 359-276, but it was a familiar theme that disrupted the Bucs on Thursday.

Balboa (5-8) has struggled with turnovers in most of its losses this season and the championship game was no exception. The Bucs committed four turnovers, including a lost fumble and a muffed kickoff return less than three minutes apart in the third quarter, that led to two Washington scores and allowed the Eagles to open up a 29-0 lead.

“I’m just very, very shocked with our performance,” said Balboa head coach Alvaro Carvajal. “Football is really simple. You gotta take care of the ball and we did not do that. Because of that, we fell short today.”

Balboa got its only score on a 2-yard touchdown pass from senior Kerati Apilakvanichakit to Andres Arellano late in the third quarter, but when the Eagles ate up almost six minutes of game clock on a 12-play scoring drive to start the fourth quarter, any designs for a Balboa comeback were squashed.

Apilakvanichakit threw for 106 yards on 12-of-20 passing, but lost two fumbles on sacks and threw an interception.

“I’m unsatisfied. We were in the red zone four times and we only scored once and the turnovers…we just can’t have that,” Apilakvanichakit said. “This one is on us.”

The Bucs also got a game effort from senior Christian Pulusian, maybe the most talented all-around player in the AAA. Pulusian showed why colleges like Oregon State are looking at him, with 50 yards rushing on 10 carries and two receptions for 12 yards out of his wing back/tight end position on offense and appeared to be in on every tackle as a linebacker on defense.

Balboa senior Christian Pulusian is swarmed by Washington defenders on a run in the CIF-San Francisco Section/Academic Athletic Association championship game on Thursday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Tawnya Gray)

“We were prepared, but they played harder and faster than us,” Pulusian said. “If we make no turnovers, this game would have been different and it would have been in our hands. We had them, just too many turnovers.”

With the win, Washington capped what was the most complete season in the AAA. Even though the Eagles were upset by Mission early in the league season and finished behind them in the regular-season standings, it would be hard to argue that the Eagles weren’t the best team in the league on a week-to-week basis.

“It’s a monkey off [our] back, because [we’ve] been here a few times and haven’t won,” Finley said. “They couldn’t do any better than they did today.”

For Balboa, a program undoubtedly on the rise, advancing to the championship game from the fourth seed can be viewed as the foundation of future success.

“When we were on and we played well this season, that was us. That was the new Balboa football,” Carvajal said. “Today, we didn’t show that too much, but that’s OK. At the end of the day, you have to look at the whole experience, and overall, I’m very proud of these guys.”

Scoring Summary

Second Quarter
W: 8:28 — Lajarie Mabrey 2-yard run (Adam Badi kick good)
W: 1:18 — Levander Moore 19-yard pass from Aram Gevandian (Badi kick good)

Third Quarter
W: 5:37 — Gevandian 1-yard run (Mabrey run on conversion)
W: 4:09 — Jetton 1-yard run (Badi kick good)
B: 0:03 — Adres Arellano 2-yard pass from Kerati Apilakvanichakit (Conversion failed)

Fourth Quarter
W: 5:27 — Galen Hall 1-yard run (Badi kick good)


Photo slideshow by Tawnya Gray

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12 Comments

  1. BEAR HUNTER says:

    wow BAL BUCS!!!!!! YALL GOT BLEWOUT!!!!!. lol. the way yall were jumpin around when yall beat mission. i would of thought yall just won turkey day… i guess to beat mission it felt like TDAY. o well. nexttime dont get so happy before the big big game….. o nice job LITTLE NAPA FROM WASHINGTON…..

  2. ALF JOAQUIN says:

    EXCLUSIVE VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE TURKEY DAY GAME

    http://www.EENERSports.net

    Chuck Fisher reports from the Kezar Stadium.
    “Impressive performance by the Eagles line and running backs. They really took over this game and helped bring home a well-deserved championship.”

    ENJOY THE HIGHLIGHTS

  3. Anonymous says:

    Congrats to Wash on a T-day championship. There was never any doubt they were the best of the AAA this season.

  4. football fan says:

    Buc’s didnt play their best today, but there is no doubt that this team is on the rise! Getting to Turkey day should tell it all!! It shows that the team and coaches have worked hard!! Definetly think these guys will have a second chance at Tday next season!! Balboa should be proud!! The support the team had today at the game was amazing!!

  5. Tammy-the-VP says:

    I was a little worried after Bal intercepted that 1st qtr Gevandian pass, but the 2nd qtr took care of that. Turned out that turnovers were Bal’s undoing. Great day. Go Eagles!

  6. Tonebucs says:

    Congratulations to Washington. They deserve their props.

    Bal, great job getting to T-Day. Like I said earlier,”Protect the football.” Winning a championship is tough. You had a great season. Build on the positive.

    The Bal fans turnout was great. It was like a reunion. Lots of former players (Champs) were in attendance. Back in the day, the stands were always packed with alumni and students. Not just for T-Day.

    Bal underclassmen, remember how it felt after the game. Losing tastes bitter. Use that to motivate you next season. You may have lost the battle, but it’s a long war. Keep your heads up. Go get’em next year!

  7. friscos finest says:

    congratz wash yall did yall thang…………. and 4 thoz hatin on # 12 4rm marshall look at the boy stats and starts on D 13 tds and 7ints the boys is good and pimpin noes hyz stuff

  8. Anonymous says:

    who was the best kicker this season?

  9. Anonymous says:

    who had the longest field goal and the most PAT’s in a game?

  10. Alumni Ric says:

    Well said, Anonymous. The Bucs will be back to the form that had them dominating in the ’70’s. Our spirit and Alumni are the best. The turnout was great! Too bad the other schools don’t turn out like back in the day. Our section was easily 3x’s as large as Washington. Congratulations to the Eagles, you dominated us!

  11. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think Wash winning turkey day was exciting It was have been exciting if the burton pumas or thurgood had gone to turkey day and won or even the bucs If pumas won that would have been their first time and same with marshall and bucs hasnt won since i believe the 80’s that would have been a very exciting turkey day

  12. BEAR HUNTER says:

    WELL HERE I AM AGAIN. just want to GIVE CONGRATS TO THE WHOLE AAA FOOTBALL LEAGUE AND TO EVERYONE WHO MADE ALLCITY. PLUS TO DA COACH OF DA YEAR FROM MISSION WELL DESERVED SIR..

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