Eric Peterson and Mark Verti were assistant coaches when the Vista Murrieta and Rancho Cucamonga football teams needed five overtimes to determine a winner of a 2015 playoff game.
They will meet again Friday night, as head coaches this time, with Peterson and the Vista Murrieta Broncos (8-2) playing host to Verti and the Rancho Cucamonga Cougars (6-4) in a CIF-SS Division 1 clash of league champions. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Vista Murrieta has been the proverbial thorn in the side for Rancho Cucamonga in previous seasons. The Broncos have ended the Cougars’ season in the semifinals three times since 2010. The 2010 game between the two programs also went to overtime.
The Division 1 bracket has nine teams that won league titles, and it was Rancho Cucamonga that ended up being the one that did not get a home game in the first round. Rancho Cucamonga started the season 0-4, but the Cougars have bounced back to win six straight games, including a 34-20 victory last week over Upland that secured the Baseline League championship.
Rancho Cucamonga has several offensive playmakers, including quarterback C.J. Stroud (1,744 yards, 15 TDs), running backs Mark Perry and Quentin Moten (combined 1,454 yards, 19 TDs) and wide receivers Devvin Gitchuway, Jayden Dixon-Beal and Silas Bolden (combined 97 receptions, 1,316 yards, 11 TDs).
The linebacker trio of Mark Samano, Aki Toki and Derek Smith lead the defense with 92, 90 and 85 tackles, respectively. Perry, who is committed to Colorado as a defensive back, also will see plenty of snaps on the defensive side Friday.
Vista Murrieta brings a seven-game winning streak into Friday’s playoff opener. The Broncos defeated rival Murrieta Valley 35-21 last week to win the Southwestern League championship.
Defense has been a key for the Broncos, as they have allowed an average of 6.7 points during their winning streak. Linebacker Lei Mo’unga leads the way with 104 tackles, lineman Nathan Bolton has eight sacks and Hunter Escorcia has four interceptions.
Robert Coleman threw four touchdowns in last week’s win over Murrieta Valley, and he is also a real threat as a runner. Alex Hill and Rickie Johnson each have seven touchdown catches for the Broncos.