CARSON -- The De La Salle High football team won its fourth consecutive California Interscholastic Federation Open Division state title over an old rival on Saturday at the Home Depot Center in Carson.
Senior Tiapepe Vitale broke the De La Salle single-season rushing record as the Spartans beat Centennial-Corona 48-28 in a rematch of the 2007 and 2008 Division I state championship games.
Bob Ladouceur earned career victory No. 399, and it could be the last for the legendary coach that built the Spartans into a national juggernaut over 34 seasons. After the game, Ladouceur said he'd decide after the holidays whether to retire from head coaching duties. He also hinted that he could remain with the team in another capacity if he does step down.
If this was Ladouceur's last year, it was a good way to go out. The victory capped a second unbeaten season in the last three years and avenged De La Salle's most recent loss to a California opponent, a 21-16 setback to Centennial in the 2008 Division I state title game.
The Spartans led 28-0 in the first half -- a start that more closely resembled De La Salle's blowout wins in its last two Open Division games than the tight contests of four and five years ago against the Huskies.
The rest didn't follow the same script as Centennial (14-2) used its high-octane, quick-strike offense to make a game of it in the second half.
"They get down the field in a minute," Ladouceur said. "They can
Robert Webber connected with Barry Ware for a 5-yard touchdown on fourth down with 8:46 left in the game to get within two touchdowns, but the Spartans (15-0) got enough stops at the end to hold on for the win.
Vitale was excellent in his final game as a Spartan, gaining far more than the 94 yards he needed to surpass the previous De La Salle record of 2,050 yards set by Terron Ward in 2009. He finished with 142 yards and four touchdowns, eclipsing Ward's mark on an 8-yard run on De La Salle's first drive of the second half. He earned most of his yards after spraining his shoulder in the first half.
"It was my last game as a senior, I didn't want to let my team down," Vitale said. "I knew what I had to do coming into this game and second half had to be a physical game of running. I just thought about all the times I had with the team and that just pushed me through."
Vitale ends his career with 2,099 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns.
Das Tautalatasi added 121 rushing yards and a score while quarterback Chris Williams accounted for two touchdowns. The task for the De La Salle defense was a big one. They needed to slow a Centennial offense that featured two 1,000-yard rushers and Webber, a junior who entered the game with a school record 3,660 passing yards on the season.
The dynamic Huskies averaged a state-best 50.4 points per game along with 542 total yards.
"I'm just happy we held them to 28," said De La Salle defensive coordinator Terry Eidson.
For a half, the Spartans did get stops and made Centennial pay for its mistakes.
The Huskies, who fumbled seven times and lost three of them, were never able to recover fully from their rough start..
Webber completed 19 of 43 passes for 308 yards and three touchdowns after being held to just 44 passing yards at halftime.
"What killed us the most was those athletes running all over the field and (Webber's) accuracy," Eidson said. "I felt like I was looking at a college quarterback. He was just throwing darts out there."
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Home Depot Center
Division IV: Central Catholic-Modesto (14-2) 66, Santa Fe Christian-Solana Beach (11-4) 7
Division I: Granite Bay (13-3) 21, Long Beach Poly (12-4) 20
Division III: Madison-San Diego (14-1) 38, Marin Catholic (14-2) 35
Division II: Serra-Gardena (14-2) 42, Oakdale (14-2) 15
Open: De La Salle (15-0) 48, Centennial-Corona (14-2) 28