MOORPARK — Early in the fourth quarter, the Paraclete football team’s equipment manager made a prediction after the Spirits scored a touchdown on a big play.
“We’re gonna be celebrating on their field,” he said. “Their house, our game, baby.”
His prediction came true.
The Spirits won the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 championship with a dominating 49-28 victory over the Moorpark Musketeers on Friday night on the road. It was the second consecutive division title for Paraclete, which took the D6 crown last year.
“Just super excited to do it here,” Spirits senior quarterback Brevin White said. “I’d love to do it back at home, but always a great thing to come into somebody else’s place and win.”
White threw four touchdown passes in Friday’s win, the biggest a 52-yarder to junior wide receiver Melquan Stovall. That play prompted the comment for the team’s equipment manager.
Spirits senior wide receiver Andre Hunt, who transferred to Paraclete this season like White did, caught two scoring passes and rushed for a touchdown. Friday marked his first-ever CIF-SS division title.
Hunt said he didn’t quite know how to feel about winning his first championship. In the waning moments, he just wanted to get the game over with, he said.
“To see this, I’ve never been a part of any championship-type game,” Hunt said. “I’ve never been to a high school championship game or anything. I just wanted to feel it.”
Paraclete freshman running back Amir Bankhead caught a touchdown pass and rushed for two more. His two rushing TDs totaled for 126 yards.
After allowing a touchdown just 7 minutes and 24 seconds into game, the Spirits slammed on the gas and scored four consecutive touchdowns, taking control of the game heading into halftime with a 28-7 advantage.
But it was Paraclete’s defense that really took over the game. In Moorpark’s next three possessions after its first touchdown, the Spirits forced a punt, intercepted a pass and recovered their own kickoff.
Paraclete followed each of those defensive sequences with a touchdown.
“We started blitzing a little bit more there in the second quarter, got to the quarterback, so they had some third-and-longs,” Spirits head coach Dean Herrington said. “The offense starting clicking a little it. We’re pretty good when we get going. We figured out their blitzes and picked them up much better near the end of the second quarter.”
Paraclete scored 14 points in the final two minutes of the first half with the help of a interception that gave the Spirits good field position, and a recovered kickoff just 22 yards from the end zone.
The Spirits opened the third quarter with a 55-yard rushing touchdown by Bankhead for a 35-7 lead. While the Musketeers scored two more touchdowns in the second half, the Spirits never lost control of the game.
Paraclete does not yet know what team it will face in the CIF State playoffs, but it would need to only win two more games to capture that title. White sounded ready for whatever came the team’s way.
“We’ll take it one week at a time,” White said, “but two weeks does sound pretty nice.
A SPECIAL BOND
For White, winning a CIF-SS division title means more to him now that he’s accomplished the feat with Herrington, who coached White at Alemany.
But Herrington left the school on bad terms two years ago, and accepted the Paraclete job soon afterwards. This season, White decided to join his old coach for a chance at a championship.
“I don’t think I would ever wanna do it with anybody but coach Herrington,” White said. “I love that guy as a friend, coach, mentor – all across the board. To do it with him is the best thing ever.”
Herrington said it was “very disappointing” not to coach White last year. He acknowledged that winning the championship with White as his quarterback was extra special.
“He just got along well with the whole team,” Herrington said. “He’s fit in right away. It’s been awesome.”
The stadium observed a moment of silence for former Atlanta Falcons player and Moorpark graduate Brenden Daley, who died suddenly on Nov. 22, reportedly of a brain aneurism.