May 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Curtis leads Capo Valley Christian into CIF playoff opener vs. third-seeded Portola

Rick Curtis leads Capo Valley Christian into Friday’s game with Portola. (Photo courtesy Harrison Zhang, For OC Sports Zone)

Former University, Irvine and Northwood coach Rick Curtis brings his Capistrano Valley Christian football team to Irvine Friday to take on Portola in the opening round of the CIF Division 14 playoffs.

Kick-off is at 7 p.m. at Portola.

Capo Valley Christian, 7-3 overall, finished second in the San Joaquin League while third-seeded Portola, 9-1 overall, was the outright Pacific Coast League champion and in the playoffs for the first time.

“We are excited to be entering the playoffs for the second year in a row,” Curtis said Thursday. “Being a school with only 195 students makes it challenging just to field a football team, so advancing to the playoffs is quite an accomplishment for this group of young men.  

“Our squad is small (21 players), however, they have done everything we have asked them to do to meet the goal of qualifying for the CIF playoffs.

“While it has been one of my biggest challenges as a head coach, it has also been one of the most rewarding and enjoyable years ever.”

Curtis is well aware of what Portola Coach Peter Abe has accomplished in leading Portola to the CIF playoffs for the first time.

“Head coach Peter Abe and I go back to his playing days at Irvine High School and we sat down together when he got this job and discussed what it takes to open up a new school,” said Curtis, who was Northwood High’s first coach. “Peter has taken it to another level, and this year’s team is the culmination of many years of hard work by Peter and his staff.

“Portola is an excellent football team. Peter is a Terry Henigan (former Irvine High coach) disciple and it clearly shows in the disciplined program that he has developed. The Bulldogs do not make mistakes and their offense is physical and well balanced.  The Portola defense and special teams are solid and opportunistic, so you better come to play when you play them.”

Curtis said his players are aware of the challenge.  

“For CVCS to win we will need to play our best game of the year, take advantage of every possession, and play mistake free football,” he said.

The Eagles are led offensively by quarterback Tyler Henry who sat out the first game with an injury.

“Tyler has completed 63 percent of his passes, which has included 20 touchdown passes for 1,358 yards,” Curtis said. “Tyler has also rushed for 447 yards and has scored three rushing touchdowns. 

“Rome Demongin has carried the load in the running game (1,004 yards on 142 carries, 7.0 yd. average) while scoring 13 touchdowns.

“Simeon Marton leads the receiving corps as he has tallied 52 receptions for 1,026 yards and 17 touchdowns.  Linebacker Dylen Roberts (81 tackles) and defensive lineman Josh Sears lead the defensive front. Peter Kelso and Kaden Manrique each have four interceptions to lead the secondary for the Eagles.”

Capo Valley Christian finished second in the San Joaquin League behind league champion St. Margaret’s, which defeated the Eagles 56-7 in the league finale last week.

RELATED: CIF Division 14 seedings, first round games

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com