PLACENTIA ■ Pacifica’s football team packed its Friday night with effort, history and fulfillment of earlyseason promise. The Mariners used the legs and arm of Ben Jefferson and the leadership and tackling of Isaak Togia to capture their first league title since 2007 with 14-0 victory at Valencia to cap a competitive Empire League race.
“The happiest thing is that we could bring home a championship to Pacifica,” third-year coach Vinnie Lopez said. “It’s been 10 years, so I’m very happy for these kids. … Now we get to play again.”
Pacifica (9-1, 4-1) shares the Empire crown with Valencia (6-4, 4-1) but heads to the CIF-SS Division 10 playoffs as a league No. 1 entry. The Mariners, ranked third in the division, were considered top contenders in the preseason but lost to Cypress in league.
“We used that as motivation,” Togia, a senior, said. “That’s what led us to get the win today.”
Jefferson, a senior dualthreat quarterback, threw a touchdown and rushed for another in the first half as Pacifica led, 14-0. He finished with 120 yards rushing and passed for 168. But it was the Mariners’ defense that shined brightest.
Outside linebacker Tanner Deroisers recorded three of Pacifica’s five sacks while Togia added two tackles for losses, a forced fumble and pass breakup at linebacker.
Pacifica stacked its defensive line with Deroisers, linebacker RJ Draper and linemen Joey Gallo, Dylan Pederson, Robert Ramos and Vincent Antonacci. The line teamed with Togia and Ryan May to hold Division 5 contender Valencia to 85 yards rushing.
“Defense played phenomenal,” Jefferson said of a unit that also produced a goal-line stand from its 3 in the fourth quarter and a late interception from Isaac Torres.
Jefferson guided the Mariners on an 85-yard scoring drive on the opening series, hitting Sean Blake with a 31-yard TD pass.