CARMEL VALLEY — Cathedral Catholic has been here before.
In 2018, the Dons football team earned a bid to the CIF Division 1-AA Southern California Regional bowl game defeating the Narbonne Gauchos off a late interception, 24-21.
But Cathedral Catholic ultimately fell to the Folsom Bulldogs in overtime in the Division 1-AA state championship that season.
This Friday, the Dons return to the SoCal Regional, this time against the Orange Lutheran Lancers, with hopes of taking home a state title.
“We’re excited. We know they’re going to be a heck of a football team,” Longtime Dons head coach Sean Doyle said. “They man up across the board and put seven or eight guys in the box and they’ll definitely do that against us to try and stop the run.”
But it’s easier said than done to stop the Dons’ rushing attack. The offense is led by senior Lucky Sutton, the most recent recipient of KUSI’s Prep Pigskin Report Silver Pigskin award for the most outstanding player in the county.
Sutton has amassed nearly 2,000 yards on the ground in 12 games this season including a 275-yard performance against the Carlsbad Lancers in the San Diego Section Open Division Championship last month.
“Everybody asks me if he is the best running back we’ve ever had. I don’t answer those questions but I’ll tell you he is as good as any running back we’ve had here which is pretty dang good,” Doyle said. “We’ve had a good handful of great ones and Lucky rates right there with those guys.”
Through the air, the Dons are led by senior quarterback Charlie Mirer who Doyle says has become more and more comfortable with the team’s offensive system as the year has gone on.
“He has matured not just physically but mentally,” Doyle said. “He knows that you just take what they give you.”
In the truncated season last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mirer played in four of the five games for the Dons but in those games, Cathedral jumped out to such large leads he only threw the ball a handful of times.
“At the beginning of the year he was still growing into our offense and what we do. He has done a tremendous job and the CIF championship game is the perfect example of that,” Doyle said.
In the run-heavy offense, Mirer was efficient when given the chance to throw going 5-for-7 for 118 yards and two passing touchdowns in the 48-19 victory over Carlsbad.
Four of those completions were to senior wide receiver Rex Haynes who led receivers for the Dons with six touchdowns this year. Haynes has led the team in receiving despite a nagging hamstring injury all season. Coach Doyle says Haynes was fully healthy for the first time this year against Carlsbad and is ready to play Friday night.
The Dons match up with Orange Lutheran this Friday night at Orange Coast College at 7:30 p.m.
Should the Dons move past Orange Lutheran this Friday they will advance to the Division 1-AA state championship game just as they did in 2018. They would face the winner of the Northern California bowl game, the De La Salle Spartans or the team that defeated Cathedral in the state championship in 2018, the Folsom Bulldogs.