CARSON -- As Tiapepe Vitale powered across the goal line for the fourth time, the De La Salle High sideline erupted in celebration and emotion.
Vitale's final touchdown with 47 seconds left made it all but official. The Spartans were going to walk off the field at the Home Depot Center as winners of the California Interscholastic Federation's most prestigious bowl game once again.
The 48-28 victory over Centennial-Corona on Saturday night earned De La Salle a fourth consecutive Open Division state football title. It was the program's fifth victory in a state bowl game since the event began in 2006.
As victory became certain, players doused assistant coach Justin Alumbaugh with a cooler of ice water and head coach Bob Ladouceur flashed a wide grin as he hugged members of his coaching staff.
Ladouceur, who earned win No. 399 in his 34th year as De La Salle's head coach, told reporters after the game that he'd decide after the holidays whether or not this year was his last.
Even if the 58-year-old steps down from his head coaching duties, don't expect him to disappear from the De La Salle campus. Ladouceur, who is also a religious studies teacher at the school, hinted that he'd still likely remain with the program in some coaching capacity.
"Being the head coach has kind of taken away from his one true love, which is really just coaching kids and not having to worry about everything else," said De La Salle defensive coordinator
If this was Ladouceur's last season, it was a nice way to end his storied career. The Spartans finished 15-0 and avenged a loss to Centennial from the 2008 Division I state title game. That loss represented De La Salle's most recent defeat to a California school.
"I like the way (this team) hung in there; we struggled early in the season," Ladouceur said. "We had a lot of mistakes, a lot of turnovers, (quarterback Chris Williams) was really green and made mistakes. But we stuck with it, we were patient with them, they showed improvement, and we've played our best football over the last five games."
The Spartans capitalized on early Centennial miscues to take a 28-0 lead in the second quarter. De La Salle then held off the Huskies when they got within two touchdowns in the second half thanks to a quick-strike offense led by junior quarterback Robert Webber.
Saturday's season finale was also big for Vitale, a senior running back who set a De La Salle single-season rushing record.
Vitale played through a sprained shoulder suffered in the first half to rush for 143 yards and four touchdowns.
His first carry of the second half put him over the previous record of 2,050 yards held by Terron Ward since 2009.
Vitale finished with 2,100 yards and 33 touchdowns on the year.
Follow Stephanie Hammon at twitter.com/stephhammon.