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Cameron Smith

California team wins title with incredible deja vu Hail Mary

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

On the opening weekend of the football season, Kingsburg (Calif.) High quarterback Garrett Steele pulled off one of the plays of the season, connecting with wide receiver Taylor Abernathy on a Hail Mary after scrambling some 20 yards in the backfield to avoid being sacked. The pass, which came with no time remaining on the clock, gave the Vikings a shocking come-from-behind victory against San Luis Obispo (Calif.) High and started them on their way to an eventual berth in the California Central Section Division III football title game against Porterville (Calif.) High.

That's where Steele stood earlier this month, facing a fourth-and-10 from his team's own 19-yard-line, with just more than two minutes remaining in his team's season. His coach, Dave Steele (Garrett Steele's uncle) told the players that the scenario was exactly like the final snap in the season-opening win over San Luis, and to go out and do it again. Amazingly, they did just that, as you can see below.

What this proves, besides the fact that lightning does occasionally strike twice in California and the fact that Division III California secondaries should always keep a very, very deep safety back late in games when playing Kingsburg, we don't know. What we do know is that Steele is a heck of a scrambling quarterback.

"Before the play, we were like: 'Remember San Luis. It can happen,'" Garrett Steele told the Fresno Bee. "I just bought time and, of course, Taylor was there again for the touchdown."

Just as he did against San Luis Obispo, Steele scrambled far behind the line of scrimmage, doubling back into the end zone and then to his left before unleashing a deep pass to -- you guessed it -- Abernathy, who raced in the rest of the way untouched for a game-winning score.

Equally eerily, both game-winning Hail Marys came from an almost identical spot on the field. The Sept. 4 pass to beat San Luis Obispo was snapped from the 20-yard-line, exactly one yard in front of the line of scrimmage used in the Central Section title game.

The touchdown strike was also a testament to an almost cosmic connection between a quarterback and his receiver, as well. The play that Kingsburg used on its final snap was only designed to have Abernathy run a traditional, 15-yard fan route. Instead, when the receiver saw Steele scrambling like crazy through the end zone, he impulsively broke upfield and found an open spot deep in Porterville territory.

"All we could do was keep trying and trying," Abernathy said. "When Garrett threw it to me, I was flying, saying: 'This is San Luis No. 2.'"

It was San Luis No. 2, much to the heartbreak of Porterville and San Luis Obispo, which was forced to live through a painful case of deja vu months after it lived the initial nightmare in living color.

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