Friday was all about nine's for the Palos Verdes football team.
Following a 44-0 victory over rival Peninsula, PV clinched its ninth consecutive Bay League title.
After the game, players and coaches posed for pictures and held up nine fingers.
"It feels really good to go undefeated in league, as well as shutting out Peninsula going into the playoffs," PV's Kevin Rahman said. "We're looking forward to our next game."
PV (8-2, 5-0) will play Loyola in a CIF Southern Section Division 4 first round playoff meeting at South Torrance High on Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
"We wanted to finish the season on a high note with this game," PV quarterback Jake Jellison said.
PV had a strong start that carried the team. The Sea Kings began the game driving 80 yards on 11 plays, capped off with Jellison's 14-yard strike to Max Leeds. Leeds' second TD, an 87-yard reception, gave PV a 30-0 lead late in the second quarter. He finished with 127 yards on four catches.
On its next drive, Ryan Wilson capped a 48-yard drive with a punishing 5-yard run to make it a 15-0 game. Wilson gained 112 yards of offense (88 rushings) and scored two TDs.
PV was set up with prime field position on its second and third drive following a pair of 19-yard punts.
The Sea Kings third drive saw Wilson reel off a 20-yard scamper before Jellison's 2-yard sneak gave PV a 22-0 lead early in the second quarter. Jellison finished with 187 yards on 9-for-13 passing and accounted for four TDs (three passing).
"Our guys played physical in all aspects of the game, and that's where it starts," PV coach Guy Gardner said. "The emotion of this game can be distracting, but the kids did their best to deal their heads and take it one play at a time."
Gardner noted that PV did an exceptional job picking up first downs in critical situations. The Sea Kings went 5-for-6 on third down, including three TDs.
"We were executing pretty well, and we had some third down plays we picked up," Gardner said. "It was important to get points and we were doing a good job running and throwing the ball."
PV's defense made it a long afternoon for Peninsula's offense, especially quarterback Jack Haworth.
Haworth was sacked five times, including twice by Justin Booth, and was held to 59 yards on 5-for-14 passing. Peninsula gained 19 yards in the first half and was forced to punt three times. The Panthers lone turnovers came on a Ricardo Punsalan kickoff return, where PV quickly capitalized on a 24-yard Wilson TD reception.
After posting its third shutout in league and allowing 16 points over its last five games, third-seeded PV now sets its sights on Friday and Loyola, the No. 7 seed.
"We're going to focus on each play by play, and keep our heads in the game and play with as much physicality as we can," Rahman said. "You never know when it's going to be your last play."
Peninsula (3-6, 2-3) will travel to top-seeded Crescenta Valley (10-0) for the CIF-SS Division 10 first round.
“Crescenta Valley is a very good football team that is well-coached, solid on both sides of the ball and ranked #1 for a reason,” Peninsula coach Dave Young said. “We know we have to play our best game to beat them and will have to give a relentless effort to compete with them on Friday night.”
Making a return trip to the playoffs isn’t enough for Peninsula. Despite returning only two starters from last seasons finalist, the Panthers are hungry to show that wasn’t a fluke.
”We aren’t satisfied, and getting this 2nd chance for our seniors doesn't happen very often, so the boys know they cannot waste this precious opportunity,” Young said.