CARSON -- Almost lost in the onslaught of Central Catholic's 66-7 victory over Santa Fe Christian was the play of the Raiders' defense, which was almost as perfect as the offense.
The one blemish was the 67-yard clean break by Eagles' running back Jerry Harper that not only accounted for Santa Fe Christian's lone score, but also for a large chunk of its 174 total yards.
"I thought we could play like this, or that at least we were capable of doing it," said senior defensive back Joey Abbate, who had half of Central Catholic's four interceptions. "We work hard every week and we're very physical."
Everything about the Eagles' offense played into Central Catholic's strength as a defense. Santa Fe Christian rolled to an 11-4 record on the strength of its Wing-T offense, which is a novelty in the San Diego Section, where wide-open spread offenses rule the day.
But the Eagles were the sixth Wing-T offense Central Catholic has faced this season, and nobody runs that offense better than Escalon, a team the Raiders beat for the Sac-Joaquin Section title.
So Santa Fe Christian was forced to throw the ball, something it had done only 97 times in its first 15 games. The Eagles threw 16 times on Friday, completing four to teammates and four to the Raiders.
"A lot of my interceptions are because of the line, and half of those come right to me," said Abbate, who spent nearly the entire game in man-to-man coverage. "We work on man-to-man defense all week - stay on their hip, stay physical."
THE DETAILS --Santa Fe Christian of Solana Beach has a grades 9-12 enrollment of about 410 and is non-denominational. This was its first trip to a state bowl game
at kickoff it was 57 degrees with 9 MPH winds out of the west and a light rain was falling. Most of the stands at the Home Depot Center are covered by a fabric roof, but the majority of the student rooters from both schools were assembled in the front rows, getting wet with their schoolmates in pads.
THE FAKE STUFF -- As a home for Major League Soccer, the Home Depot Center's normal playing surface is natural grass. But for the second straight year, the latest generation of AstroTurf was installed over the grass.
The reason? Look back to 2010, when Escalon defeated Madison of San Diego 30-14 in the Division 3 bowl. Heavy rains during the week saturated the field, and a monsoon during the game turned the playing surface into a slow, muddy mush that really helped the Cougars slow-down a much faster opponent.
More than that, the weekend of football pretty much destroyed the playing surface, much to the chagrin of the facility's major tenant.
COULD BOWLS BE MOVING? -- The Home Depot Center has been the host site for the state bowls since they began in 2006, and the CIF announced Friday that the game will remain in Carson through the 2014 season.
After that, the CIF said it has plans to start alternating both the football bowl games and the state basketball championships between northern and southern sites starting in 2015.
The southern region of the CIF currently hosts every state championship except basketball, which is held at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
Possible sites in the north including Veterans Memorial Stadium at Buchanan High in Clovis, and two Sacramento sites -- Sacramento State and Hughes Stadium. All three of those sites had bid to host the 2013 bowls.
INFORMATION, PLEASE -- But there is one drawback with the Home Depot Center. Because it's a soccer stadium, the scoreboards are set up for soccer program, and fans are not given the down and distance information available on every regulation football scoreboard.
These are modern scoreboards, and one includes a jumbo high-definition screen that shows in-game replays. It certainly could be adapted with a program to provide football information, but for some reason that upgrade has not been made.
SIX DEGREES -- Everywhere you go, you'll find small-world connections like this one.
Mike Jelnick, who has been teaching match at Santa Fe Christian High School for 19 years, was working as the Eagles' spotter for Friday's Time-Warner television crew.
His wife, Gigi Selnick, is the niece of Julie Thurman, the widow of former state assemblyman John Thurman.
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2150. Follow him at twitter.com/modestobeek.