Orcutt Academy has been here before – The Chadwick School in Palos Verdes Peninsula.
This time, the Spartans have plans for a bit of payback.
Orcutt Academy heads to Chadwick’s Commander Field in the hills overlooking Los Angeles for a quarterfinal matchup Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. in the CIF Southern Section’s 8-Man Division 1 playoffs.
Chadwick, a freelance team that earned an at-large bid, is undefeated at 10-0, improving on its 8-2 record from a year ago.
The Spartans (8-2) are the No. 2 seed from the Mt. Pinos League.
“We’re going up against a team that has played very well all year,” said Orcutt Academy head coach Doug May. “They’re pretty good but I like our chances.”
Chadwick ousted the Riverside County Education Academy 56-28 in their playoff opener last Saturday while Orcutt Academy knocked off Lancaster Desert Christian 63-8 last Friday night.
In the opening round of the 2016 playoffs, Chadwick’s Dolphins defeated the Spartans 41-30 at Commander Field.
But these aren’t the same Spartans — or Dolphins.
Orcutt Academy’s star quarterback Darin Miller will be on the field this time. Miller led his Spartans to the playoffs last season but missed the 2016 game with an injury.
“These last two weeks we’ve had the best practices of the year,” said Miller. “Our guys are really working hard. We’ve just got to work on the little things — minimize the errors.”
This year, the Spartans will have to overcome the loss of running back Jared Sutton, who rushed for 568 yards and 8 touchdowns before going down with an injury earlier in the season.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins’ lightning quick running backs EJ DeVaughn and Nick Benson are gone.
Last year, DeVaughn and Benson ran over, around and through the Spartans defense, accounting for 245 yards rushing, while wearing down the Orcutt Academy defense. But that dynamic duo is off to college.
Chadwick’s quarterback, junior Alex Rosso, is back as is the team’s No. 3 running back from last year, junior Zach Goodman.
Goodman is now the main man, with nearly 900 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns.
Joining him in the backfield will be Oryan Hamlin who has picked up 750 yards and scored 13 times.
J. Calvin Kim (573 yards, 8 touchdowns), Rosso (275 yards, 5 touchdowns) and Charlton Jackson (200 yards, 4 TDs) will also get their share of carries.
“They run five plays,” said Miller. “They’re a well-coached team; they’re on top of their game. We have to be prepared for them. It comes down to every player getting the job done.”
The Dolphins are primarily a running team but when they air it out, Rosso is fairly accurate.
He’s completed 24 of 38 passes for 452 yards and 7 touchdowns with two interceptions.
Tight end Jack Connelly and fullback Aiden Amberg are the two primary receivers.
Similar to Chadwick, Orcutt Academy is also a run-first offense.
Miller leads to team with 1,190 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns.
But the Dolphins can’t just zero in on Miller.
The Spartans’ Eddie Lundberg has stepped up and into Sutton’s spot as Orcutt Academy’s featured running back, gaining 877 yards with 13 touchdowns on the year.
Lundberg is also the team’s kicker, going 9-for-9 on points after in last week’s game while sending most of his kickoffs through the end zone.
Bruising fullback Dominic Nattell averages better than 5 yards a carry when he’s called upon.
Miller has completed 51 of 113 passes for 829 yards and 14 touchdowns when the Spartans decide to throw.
And he has plenty of targets.
Aiden Heller leads the pack with 15 catches for 389 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Nattell, Donavon Miller, Max Daniels, Dylan McIntyre and Ben Luna-Vasquez are also frequent targets for Miller’s passes.
The Spartans’ defense swarms to the ball.
Mitch McMann, Alex Sutton, Matt Simms and Heller each has more than 60 tackles with Daniels, Luna-Vasquez, Donavon Miller, Bryce Coefield, Jaden Davis and Harrison Picek not far behind.
“We have a lot more confidence going into the game this year — the most confidence we’ve had before a game since I’ve been to this school,” said Darin Miller. “We’ve just got to do our job — finish it, finish the game strong.”
“I like the way the team is approaching this game,” said May. “These guys fight for each other, pick each other up. Every game from here on out is going to be a battle. Hopefully, we’ll come out with a win.”