The Millikan football program has felt unfulfilled this season after weeks of not reaching their full potential. However, the Rams picked a great time put it all together in a 53-6 win over visiting Pacifica on Friday in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 7 playoffs.
“We’ve been waiting for a complete game like this,” Millikan coach Justin Utupo said. “It’s about time. And there’s room for improvement, which is exciting.”
Millikan (7-3) has now won consecutive home playoff games under Utupo for the first time since 1979-80. Last year, the Rams won their first playoff game since 1986. Millikan will host Culver City on Friday in the quarterfinals.
“It’s our senior season and we’ve been here from the beginning since we were 1-9 as freshman,” Millikan seniors Zach Martin said. “We’re trying to make it count and go all the way.”
Millikan quarterback Qeanu Campbell-Caldwell and running back Qu’Juan Campbell were near perfect in the first half, and that was more than enough while the defense also dominated.
Campbell-Caldwell completed six of his seven passing attempts in the first half for 121 yards and three touchdowns to Nathan Martinez, Dylan Davis and Jayden Davis. The junior finished the night 14/18 for 232 yards and four touchdowns, and now holds the school record for both career yardage and touchdown passes.
“You can see the game slowing down for him,” Utupo said of his quarterback. “We know our next opponent will give us different challenges. But if (Campbell-Caldwell) sticks to his preparation he’ll keep getting better.”
Campbell scored twice in the first half on just eight carries, and finished the night with 144 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries.
The Millikan defense held Pacifica (5-6) to just 176 yards of total offense, and 80 yards of that came on a third quarter touchdown pass from Issac Torres to Josiah Washington when the Rams led 39-0. Millikan finished with 10 tackles for loss, and Martin had three of them.
“When we lost (in the playoffs) last year we saw it was an emotional time for all of us, not just the seniors,” Martin said. “We want to go all the way so we don’t have to feel like that again. We get to celebrate this right now, but we’re going back to the lab and studying Culver City starting Monday.”
Utupo said he was pleasantly surprised by the turnout for the game at DeHaven Stadium.
“The students have to pay now, because CIF runs the gate, and they still came out and bought tickets,” Utupo said. “You could feel the home field advantage on the sidelines. Next week, let’s come out and fill this place like Homecoming.”