There is no place like home and with two weeks in the regular season, the Mira Costa football team is looking to win-out. The Mustangs have two home games left, beginning with Compton Centennial on Homecoming night tomorrow at Waller Stadium and concluding with rival Redondo Union the week after.
After losing to Palos Verdes in their Bay League opener the Mustangs, 5-3 overall, have followed up with two victories and are tied with Redondo Union, Peninsula for second place with 2-1 records. Palos Verdes looks to be well on their way to another Bay League championship.
Mira Costa is coming off a 42-point night against Leuzinger and hopes to keep its offense rolling against Compton Centennial.
“We’re very excited for our homecoming game,” said Mira Costa senior Jackson Fischer. “Considering we already have one loss in Bay League it raises the stakes of both of our upcoming games. We are looking to get a big win at home and use it as momentum against Redondo.”
Last year Mira Costa had an interrupted Homecoming game that was postponed until Saturday.
“The guys are all excited to play at home again and for many of us who were on the team last year this will be our first homecoming game because of the lightning last year, so everybody can’t wait for Friday,” said Mira Costa’s Hank Dunlap.
Starting quarterback Sam Whitney was on the junior varsity team a year ago, but is one of those looking forward to the game.
“I am super excited to play in my first homecoming game,” Whitney said. “It should be fun and hopefully we have a big crowd.”
Centennial is coming off three straight league losses, has been shutout in two of those games. Last week, it was by a 49-8 score at Peninsula. But anything can happen, the team must be ready.
“Now we have to stay focused and come out strong against Centennial,” Kian Towfighi said. “We need to stay consistent through all four quarters in this matchup. Being disciplined on defense and efficient on offense will be essential to securing the win.”
Offensively, Mira Costa is the highest scoring team in the Bay League with a 32 points-per-game average. It all starts with Whitney at quarterback. He started on the junior varsity level last year and now has made the move to the varsity level.
“Every week I am getting more and more comfortable in the offense and my chemistry with the receivers is growing as well,” Whitney said.
Asked what he has learned up to this point. He said, “That the varsity level everyone is bigger and faster so no one is wide open like they were on junior varsity. And how important it is that the offensive line can give me the protection I need to be able to get the ball to our receivers on time.”
Said Dunlap, who is one of those linemen, of Whitney in his growth as a quarterback.
“I think that Sam is a great quarterback and his vision of the field is incredible. His ability to know where the rush is and keep track of his receivers is really impressive and our passing game would be nowhere near what it is now if we had anyone else at quarterback.”
He added, “Watching him develop his football IQ and field awareness over this season and offseason has been amazing to see and I think he’s going to do great things in weeks and years to come.”
The defense will have a week to improve some more for its battle with Redondo Union as it tries to catch up to the offense.
Centennial comes in with a 2-6 record overall, 0-3 in the Bay League.
“We’re anticipating a win this week and then considering we and Redondo are in the same division as far as we are concerned, we’ll be in the playoff mode come week 10,” Dunlap said.
Mira Costa put up 28 points in the first half against Leuzinger in a 42-14 victory on the road last Friday.
“We had a slow start in the Leuzinger game but key plays by our defense and special teams really helped us turn things on for the rest of the game,” Fischer said. “It was a great team win as we executed very well on both sides of the ball.”
The win came with a loss in the form of one of its key players.
“Our defense played very well scoring two touchdowns against Leuzinger but unfortunately our teammate Diego Osterling-Tabatabaian suffered a season ending hip injury in that game so we are all hoping for him to get better soon and with as little pain as possible,” Dunlap said.
Leuzinger dropped to 3-5 overall, 0-3 in the Bay League.