SAN DIEGO - San Diego High School’s football team represented the section well and capped off their season by bringing home their first state title in history.
San Diego went 12-2 and won a section title for the first time in 49 years. They also were the only team from the area to win the state championship.
"At first I didn't think that we were going to be this good," said head coach Charles James. "You don't go into the season and say, ‘Hey, we're going to win state in the next couple of months.’"
The Cavers proved the odds and themselves wrong.
San Diego traveled nearly 600 miles to Colfax, a small town at the base of the Sierra Nevada with a population of roughly 2,000 people, less than the total number of students who attend San Diego High.
"When we got off the bus, all we saw were signs throughout town ‘Go Falcons,’ ‘Colfax territory,’ stuff like that. It was kind of like all the odds were stacked against us," said senior quarterback Quinn O'Connor.
The Cavers played on a mostly dirt field with temperatures in the mid-40s against an undefeated Colfax team for the Division 5-A state title.
"It felt like bouncy hay in a way," said senior wide receiver Charles Johnson. "We struggled a little bit just adjusting to the field and the weather."
San Diego trailed 10-7 at the half. Then they rallied behind sophomore Mo Jackson, who punched in two touchdowns as the Cavers went on to win 21-10, earning their first state football title.
"It was very exciting. We came to San Diego High to change the whole program," said Jackson. "Knowing we accomplished what we came there for was amazing and especially to finish the season off with these amazing seniors, it was pretty great. It was an awesome feeling."
Not even James, whose birthday fell on the same day, ever imagined winning a state title just four years into his post.
"In my coaching world, I'm very young. So to get to this point, it's almost like the Super Bowl of high school and in four years is crazy," said James.
"He goes out of his way for his players. We all appreciate him because he's like the dad that some players never had so we really love him," said Jackson.
San Diego was predicted underdogs in most of their games. What the Cavers lacked in size, they made up for in spirit.
"Might not be the fastest guys, might not be the strongest guys but they can play well together. They love playing with each other and I think that's what our team is," said James.
"It's very special," said Johnson. "Being the only team in San Diego history to do that and I'm definitely going to look back on that and know what we did was something very special."