The Pacifica High football team answered its head coach on Saturday afternoon with the type of dominating performance that leaves no doubt its place among the top teams in Ventura County history.
R.J. Maria threw four touchdowns to four different receivers as Pacifica High became Ventura County’s first public school to win a state football championship with a 34-6 victory over Oakland-McClymonds in the CIF Division 2-A state championship bowl at Cerritos College. “I don’t have any words for that, honestly,” linebacker Brad Bichard said. “That’s a huge thing. … We worked so hard for this and we deserved to win this. We put a good show on.” Running back Malik Sherrod ran for 124 yards on 29 carries, becoming Pacifica’s all-time leading rusher in the first quarter, and opened the second half with an interception.
“We’ve had many great games, but this is one of the best,” Sherrod said. “It came from inside. We always had it. “Coach always says, ‘If they can’t score, they can’t win.’ That’s what we did. We stopped them.” Cornerback Kyrie Wilson had two of his team’s four interceptions, Bichard had a game-high 14 tackles and three sacks and linebacker Caleb McCullough had 10 tackles and three sacks as Pacifica allowed the McClymonds offense just seven first downs, 112 yards of total offense and no points. “Coach Moon did a great job preparing us for this game,” Bichard said. “We knew exactly what they were going to do every single play. He broke down every single alignment they were doing. I think we were well-prepared and we executed correctly.”
The shutout ended with 4:41 to play, on Arrion Hughes’ 30-yard fumble return of a bad snap after the first-team offense had sat down for the day. By then, four buses worth of Pacifica students had already started chanting, “We won state!” "I’m so fired up," Moon said. "It’s the best feeling ever."
Pacifica (15-1) set or tied 11 Division 2-A records in delivering the city of Oxnard its first football state title. “It means a lot,” Sherrod said. “We bring it back to the people … we worked for this.”
Those included most touchdown passes (four), most sacks (six), most interceptions (four), fewest points allowed (six), fewest yards allowed (112) and most field goals (two).
The 28-point margin was the most by a Ventura County school in a state championship bowl, eclipsing St. Bonaventure's 22-point Division III win over Santa Rosa-Cardinal Newman in 2008.
“It means a lot,” McCullough said. “If you asked me four years ago if I thought I’d be a state champions, I would have never believed it. It’s crazy.” McClymonds was no patsy. The Oakland Athletic League champion had won 23 straight games and 14 straight playoff games, dating back to 2015. It entered its fourth straight state bowl with a scoring average of 48.0 points per game.
"We were worried as hell," Moon said. "They hadn’t lost a game in forever. They’ve won three state championships in a row.
"You flip on the film and they’re scoring first play, second play. ... They took shots early against all their opponents. So we were waiting for the early shot.” As a result, Moon, who runs the Pacifica defense, had his Tritons sit back in a three-deep zone early. “And we stopped the run and we stopped the run, again,” Moon said. “Why make changes if you’re able to shut down their offense with a four-man pressure?” Maria completed 14 of 23 passes for 185 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. Nohl Williams caught eight passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. Isaiah Moon, Kyrie Wilson and Savonne Perris-Farmer also caught scoring strikes.
Pacifica grabbed the early momentum on its second possession, driving 91 yards on 15 plays and taking a 7-0 lead on Maria’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Wilson. “We felt it from the beginning,” Sherrod said. Three plays later, Wilson intercept a pass across the middle and returned it 17 yards to the McClymonds’ 34-yard line. Pacifica capitalized on the turnover, doubling its lead to 14-0 on Maria’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Nohl Williams on third-and-3.
“We set the tone,” Maria said.
Pacifica took its time finding the knockout blow, slowly building its lead to 17-0 at the half on Scooter Carranza’s 42-yard field goal and 20-0 on Carranza’s 32-yard kick with 7:35 left in the third quarter. Isaiah Moon, the head coach's son, provided the killer score, reeling in a Maria pass over the middle and breaking an arm tackle for a 44-yard scoring strike with 4:29 left in the third quarter.
“It just hit me,” his father said. “He knows how bad I wanted this and I think he wanted it bad, too.” It's not always easy being the head coach's son, but the younger Moon popped up with several big plays throughout the Tritons' six-game postseason run. “It’s super hard, especially being mine,” Moon said. “I love him up, don’t get me wrong. But not in front of anybody else.”
Maria’s fourth TD pass came three minutes later, a 22-yard strike to Perris-Farmer to extend the Tritons’ lead to 34-0 with 1:08 left in the third quarter. “We do that always at practice,” Perris-Farmer said. “I was like man, ‘Throw it up.’ ” Perris-Farmer was playing with a shoulder injury that forced him to miss last week’s state regional win at Lake Balboa-Birmingham. “The best feeling of my life,” Perris-Farmer said. “It’s worth the pain. I’m celebrating with my team, but it’s hurting real bad.”