What started off as a disastrous season for Corona del Sol ended on a high note as the Aztecs rolled to a 38-19 win over visiting Notre Dame Prep in a non-divisional game Friday.
After an 0-4 start and a coaching change, the Aztecs finished 3-3 in their final six games under interim coach Tim Kelly.
“We just rallied around each other,” Corona quarterback RJ Rhiner said. “We just had to keep fighting and keep battling because we knew it was going to be tough for us, but we came out in the second half the season and played well.”
Corona capitalized on miscues by Notre Dame’s special teams unit and jumped out to a 22-3 first quarter lead.
The Aztecs’ average starting field position for their first three drives was the Saints’ 14-yard line, and the excellent starting positions helped Rhiner get comfortable right away in his final start in an Aztec uniform.
“I felt very comfortable,” Rhiner said. “I had a good pocket … the receivers were getting open and it just worked out well tonight.”
Rhiner completed 12 of 20 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown.
Corona’s aerial attack got support on the ground thanks to strong running by George Wright that helped open up the passing game. Wright rushed for 53 yards and three touchdowns.
“It always helps a ton; it sets up the pass,” Rhiner said.
Notre Dame (6-4) was ranked 14th in the power rankings entering Friday’s game – this loss likely knocked the Saints out of the Division II state playoffs..
“We brought (playing the spoiler) up a little bit, but we didn’t really didn’t think that,” Rhiner said. “We just came out, execute and came out with the win tonight.”
The Saints did have opportunities in the second half after the Aztecs came out flat following an extended halftime.
“It’s hard, you know, we didn’t come out in the second half the way we should’ve,” Kelly said. “They just fought us a little bit. They had a great game in the second half to stop our offense.”
Notre Dame shut out Corona’s offense in the second half, but was only able to put up six points on the board after halftime.
Corona del Sol 38, Notre Dame Prep 9
First Downs: CDS 9, NDP 4
Rushing: CDS 48-88, NDP 23-42
Passing (comp.-att.-YDS-TD-INT): CDS 12-20-185-1-0, NDP 13-34-152-1-0
Fumbles-lost: CDS 3-2, NDP 1-1
Penalties-yards: CDS 7-63, NDP 8-36
Notre Dame Prep 3 10 6 0 -- 19
Corona del Sol 22 14 0 2 -- 38
CDS: Fishburn15 pass from Rhiner (Baker kick)
NDP: Naquin 29 FG
CDS: Freeland 2 run (Baker kick)
CDS: Wright 6 run (Rhiner run)
CDS: Wright 1 run (Stehr pass from Rhiner)
NDP: Rodriguez 66 pass from Lehman (Naquin kick)
NDP: Naquin 44 FG
CDS: Wright 3 run (kick failed)
NDP: Graham 2 run (pass failed)