When the playoff brackets were first released, St. Anthony was pretty sure they would see a familiar opponent again in the playoffs.
It is indeed true as the Saints (8-4) hit the road for the second straight week to face Del Rey League opponent Salesian (9-3) in the CIF Southern Section Division 10 Semifinals. Game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
The game is a rematch of a 43-41 victory on Oct. 14 won by the Mustangs.
“It’s a benefit seeing a league opponent again,” Saints coach Raul Lara said. “The advantage is the team that lost (in the first meeting) because they will fix things to make them better while the team that won has that success and feels they played pretty well.”
The first meeting was a wild back-and-forth matchup as Mustangs senior quarterback Marcus Martin threw a season-high five touchdowns, four of which went to senior wide receiver Anthony Redix.
Martin has 30 passing touchdowns and seven rushing touchdowns this season while Redix has 837 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.
“In the first game, they showed a lot of fight,” Lara said of his team’s performance against Salesian.
St. Anthony beat Salesian, 41-12, in the spring and senior running back Sone Aupiu said the Mustangs are “physical”.
While St. Anthony has blown out both of its playoff opponents (41-7 over Schurr and 48-17 over Katella last week), Salesian has had to overcome deficits to win.
Salesian trailed 10-0 to Segerstrom after the first quarter two weeks ago (won 20-17) and overcame a 21-17 fourth quarter deficit to beat Fillmore, 31-21 last week.
For Lara, in his first year as coach, the team has come a long road since their early season struggles.
“We started 0-3,” Lara said. “Who would have thought we would be here after that? You can’t take it for granted. We are grateful.”