H-SPORTS

Nov 22, 2012 8:13 PM by Andrew Masuda

Mission football ready for first CIF semifinal since 1962

The Mission Prep football team has a lot to be thankful for this holiday. The Royals host Salesian Friday in a CIF Northeast Division semifinal game. Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm. They are just two wins away from capturing the program's first-ever CIF title.

The Royals are the #1 seed in the Division. The 11-1 Royals are coming off a dominant 49-14 quarterfinal road win over Flintridge Prep, where they racked 463 yards of total offense.

"I would even say getting that win last week was a real big emotional lift for us and we have a refound focus and energy this week," said head coach Chad Henry.

The team won its postseason opener easily over Frazier Mountain, but the Royals were still coping with their heartbreaking last minute loss to Bishop Diego in the final week of the regular season. Last week, the team participated in an exorcism to rid itself of the remorse from that loss. The win over Flintridge Prep was a great way to start their new way of thinking. "I think our last game we really stepped it up and I think we're coming back together like we were in the middle of the season and playing good again," said senior wide receiver Joey Hall, who has 48 catches for 1,113 yards and 19 touchdowns this season.

Mission welcomes in 11-1 Salesian, a team that's won 10 in a row, including 35-0 over Bishop last week. The Mustang offense is led by Jihad Vercher, a dual-threat, 6-0 quarterback with offers from Army, Idaho and Northern Arizona. He's thrown for more than 2,100 yards and 2 1touchdowns, while rushed for nearly 1,000 yards with 15 touchdown runs. "Defensively, we're going to have to run to the football and eliminate big plays. This is a team that has great athletes and the big play will absolutely kill you against this team," said coach Henry.

After getting snubbed from the playoffs with an 8-2 record in 2011, Mission has been on a mission ever since to win its first-ever CIF title. "We want it really bad. We've wanted it since January last offseason," said senior lineman Andrew De Sesa. "We've been working hard ever since we got denied playoffs to come back. So to have our spot right now it's huge for us and we're hungry and I think we want it more than any other team in the state."

The semifinal game is a long time coming. It will be Mission's first semifinal appearance since 1962, when John F. Kennedy was the President of the United States.

If Mission wins, it will play at either Rio Hondo Prep or St. Monica for the Northeast Division championship next Friday.

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