CARLSBAD — After some early game jitters, the Carlsbad High School football team rolled to a 37-0 win over Poway on Nov. 10 in a first-round CIF San Diego Section Open Division game.
The Lancers (10-1, 6-0) were led by another stellar performance from five-star junior quarterback Julian Sayin, who threw for 318 yards and two touchdowns, helping the team advance to the Open Division championship game on Nov. 18 against Lincoln at Snapdragon Stadium.
The Lancers’ ninth-straight win sets up the school’s third consecutive CIF Open Division title game appearance. On defense, Carlsbad smothered the Titans’ run-heavy offense to hand Poway (10-1, 5-0) its first loss of the season.
“With their offense, you got to have great technique and then wrap that big boy (Connor Rath) up,” said Lancers coach Thadd MacNeal. “Our guys did a good job. Where just excited for another opportunity (for a CIF title).”
Sayin made national news last week when he announced his commitment to Alabama as one of the top signal callers in the 2024 class. His growth over the past two seasons, much of which he attributes to MacNeal’s experience preparing 17 NCAA Division 1 quarterbacks, positioned him as one of the most sought-after recruits in the country.
Sayin also gets insights from Lancers quarterbacks coach Christian Chapman, a former play-caller at San Diego State and Carlsbad High, and the countless competitions growing up with his older brother, Aidan Sayin, now the starting quarterback at Penn.
“(Aidan) showed me how important it is to be the quarterback at Carlsbad,” Julian Sayin said. “Carlsbad quarterbacking is elite and something that’s very important.”
MacNeal said one of Sayin’s best attributes is consistency and understanding where the ball needs to go on each play. MacNeal said from there, Sayin’s talent takes over to execute each play and put the Lancers in position to move the ball and score.
“With the experiences comes the confidence,” MacNeal said. “Then you back that up with his preparation and natural ability; he’s pretty deadly.”
But Sayin also benefits from a talented group of players around him.
Carlsbad running back Mason Walsh ran for 72 yards and one touchdown against Poway. Tight end Zach Marshall, headed to play at Michigan next season, had five catches for 39 yards.
Lancers wide receivers Justin Johnson hauled in five catches for 120 yards and two scores, and Nico Arboit added 66 yards receiving, including a sideline catch on third-and-19 that led to a field goal to give Carlsbad a 23-0 lead at halftime.
“We executed on both sides of the ball,” Marshall said.
The Lancers team started this season with some lineup questions after losing a significant amount of talent from last year’s team.
After losing 35-18 to Inglewood in the second game of the regular season, the Lancers won their following two games against El Camino and Mission Hills.
Since defeating Liberty (Bakersfield) 27-0 on Sept. 23, the Lancers haven’t scored fewer than 35 points and have allowed just one opponent (Vista) to score more than 10 points.