Scots set for defending CIF champs

November 21, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

It often has been said if Imperial Valley football teams want to be successful against San Diego schools in the playoffs, they must throw the ball as often as possible.

But ask Vincent Memorial High head coach Jaime Santos if throwing the ball first and foremost will be his team's game plan against Horizon in the second round of the CIF San Diego Section Division IV playoffs and he'll answer with an emphatic "No."

It's not that Santos' squad can't throw the ball, but he won't go away from what has worked all year as he plans to mix up the run and the pass in Calexico on Friday.

"We really are ready to mix it up on them. I feel like we can throw and run on them," said Santos. "People around here always tell us that they think we're a passing team. But we're not. We can run the ball as good as we can throw it.


"But we'll see what we can get. If we have to set up the pass with our run, then we'll do it. But if that doesn't work, then we'll use the pass to set up our running game," said Santos. "We've watched plenty of tape on them, and I feel like we may have their number."

The No. 4-seeded Scots (7-1 overall) will be tested. What Vincent will get in Horizon (5-4) is the section's Division IV defending champion.

Defensively the Panthers will give the Scots a 4-4 look, which could open both Vincent's running game up the middle and the passing game as Horizon will only deploy three defensive backs.

In their last four games the Scots outscored their opponents a combined 195-6, including three shutouts. Vincent started that stretch with a 46-0 thumping of San Pasqual, a game that was stopped at the half due to a 42-point mercy rule. The Scots followed that by blanking Holtville 33-0 and Imperial 54-0, then ended the season with a 62-6 annihilation of Mountain Empire to claim the Desert Mountain League title.

Running the Scots' offense all year has been quarterback Mickey Montaño.

"This is a very important game for us because it is our first playoff game this year. But I think we have a really good team and I think we have the team to win," said Montaño. "I have a lot of trust in my teammates that they'll do their jobs out there.

"I think on offense we are a lot better than we were at the beginning of the year. And I think we've been getting better over the last three games."

While the Scots' offense has been a big reason for the team's success, the driving force throughout the year has been the defense.

Vincent's defense has allowed only 4.3 points per game, No. 1 in the San Diego Section.

Anchoring the Scots' defense is 6-foot-3, 235-pound middle linebacker Manuel Padilla, who averaged more than 15 tackles per game this season.

While Padilla is the heart and soul of the defense, the brains behind it is defensive coordinator Joe Bielma.

"We really haven't seen a lot of passing teams this year, so I think that's what they'll try to do," said Bielma. "Whatever they bring at us we're just going to try to make some adjustments to stop them. Our strategy will be to go after the quarterback from the start. But if that doesn't work, then we'll just drop back and play a cover two."

Added Santos: "Defensively, I think we can take them. I really like our chances. We're not taking them lightly, but I feel like we can win this game."

One of his best games came in the Scots' dismantling of Imperial when he finished with 25 total tackles, including 20 solo take-downs.

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