Ben Burr-Kirven wasn't expecting to carry the ball in the Central Coast Section semifinals on Saturday afternoon. Instead, the junior linebacker was expecting to stop it.
However, an injury to senior running back Ricky Grau changed those plans. Burr-Kirven added offense to his busy day and responded quite well as he ran for 112 yards and scored three touchdowns to lead the Gators to a 34-7 victory over visiting Monterey.
The top-seeded Gators (11-1) advanced to next weekend's finals while fifth-seeded Monterey ended its season at 8-4. SHP, the defending section champion, will be shooting for its third CCS title in four years and will have an opportunity to tie the program's all-time won-loss record of 12-1, established last year.
Defense will go a long way in helping the Gators accomplish that goal. SHP has allowed only 10.6 points to opponents in its past six games and done that with a team effort.
"We're a big family," said senior running back Andrew Segre, who ran for 123 yards. "We're fighting just to have one more week for this family to get another CCS championship."
Segre led off Sacred Heart's first drive of the game with a three-yard dive up the middle for a touchdown, putting the Gators up 7-0 in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Burr-Kirven ran past the Toreadores' defense for a six-yard touchdown to give his team the 14-0 lead going into halftime. The Gators totaled 127 yards on the ground in the first half and 355 in the game.
"We had big holes on every play, we just had to follow them -- the O' line played really well," said Segre.
It only took three plays for Sacred Heart to score on its opening drive of the third quarter. Burr-Kirven came through again and sprinted down the side line for a 66-yard touchdown, giving the Gators the 20-0 edge.
Not only did Burr-Kirven rack up three offensive touchdowns, he also led the Gators' defense that allowed only 133 total yards. Burr-Kirven was credited with 17 tackles, 11 of them solo.
"He's the best high school player I've ever coached," SHP coach Pete Lavorato said of Burr-Kirven. "I think he's the best high school player I've ever seen -- he's a special kid."
The Toreadores got on the board in the third quarter when sophomore quarterback Carter Aldrete, nephew of former Stanford baseball player Mike Aldrete, found junior wide receiver Michael Armstead for a 22-yard touchdown, making the score 28-7.
The Gators put away Monterey for good in the fourth quarter when Burr-Kirven ran in for an eight-yard touchdown to give his team the 34-7 lead.
Sacred Heart Prep will face the No. 7-seeded Pacific Grove next Saturday at 7 p.m., at Independence High in San Jose. The Breakers defeated Carmel in the semifinals on Friday night, 77-53.
"They're going to be tough," said Lavorato. "It's two contrasting styles. It's going to be a real exciting game."