CARLSBAD — There was something in the air all week for students of La Costa Canyon High School as they awaited the arrival of the San Diego Section CIF Playoffs for their football team.
All the championship games were held Dec. 12 at Qualcomm Stadium, where the Mavericks beat the Escondido Panthers 45-28.
The title, a first for the high school known for its athletic as well as academic achievements, was a relief but not a surprise.
“We’ve been knocking on the door for the past three years,” John Labeta, the athletic director for La Costa Canyon High School, said. “It was nice to finally get there.”
Although the Panthers scored first, the Mavericks made a strong comeback, took advantage of opportunities, and continued to find ways to make the game interesting. They sealed the deal when they scored 21 points in the third quarter, despite the fact the Panthers had running back Ricky Seale, who set a San Diego Section record for most rushing yards in season.
After the game, the La Costa Canyon High School Mavericks football team enjoyed the victory, as did the students, facility and even parents.
“It was fantastic to see the huge crowd on Friday night,” Labeta said.
The school spirit rivals the holiday spirit this December, as the girls volleyball team, said to be the best in the nation, took the state CIF title in the final against Homestead in Irvine on Dec. 6, where they clenched the Division 1 State Championship.
“School spirit is very, very high right now,“ Labeta said. “It’s at an all-time high, except maybe when Chase (Budinger) played.”
Those who follow prep sports know that athletics are a large part of the pride of the school.
“La Costa Canyon High school is competitive in every sport,” Labeta said.
In winter sports, the boys and girls basketball teams are currently rated in the top 10, he said, and the boys wrestling was competitive this year. In spring, the lacrosse, baseball and softball teams also made it to CIF, as well as the girls tennis team. The boys tennis would have too, if not for cross-town rival Torrey Pines and their consistently strong team.
“We are having a banner year,” Labeta said. “There’s no shortage of talent this year.”
The district has been known to have banner years in the past.
“The district itself has great athletic programs,“ Labeta said. “We’re in the spotlight this year because of football and volleyball, but Torrey Pines has pushed us to the limit.”
The two large schools in the district, La Costa Canyon and Torrey Pines, have long been considered cross-town rivals in many sports. The two smaller schools, San Dieguito Academy and Canyon Crest Academy, are in a different division because of their smaller size, he said.
“CCA had three teams that had the San Diego Section highest GPA,” Labeta said. “They may not have won any titles, but that is not always what it is about.”