Fri, Sep 14 2012 02:39 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
I was born in Chula Vista (at the old community hospital on F Street) but grew up in National City. I attended Las Palmas Elementary, National City Junior High and Sweetwater High schools.
I can therefore easily put my finger on the pulse of the long-standing football rivalry between Chula Vista and Sweetwater high schools.
The Spartans and Red Devils met for the 66th time — the county’s oldest continuing prep football rivalry series — last Friday at Gail Devers Stadium in National City.
Chula Vista has had the upper hand in the series in recent years; the Spartans demonstrated that by claiming their seventh consecutive win by a score of 42-14. The visitors led 35-0 at one point.
For those who are committed members of the Sweetwater Nation, the Red Devils continue to lead the series 36-27-3.
It was while standing on the sideline conversing with CVHS principal Steve Lizarraga last Friday that I realized the significance of the Spartans’ other rivalry match-up: that against the Hilltop Lancers.
“The National City-Chula Vista rivalry is understandable and strong,” Lizarraga said.
The Hilltop-Chula Vista rivalry is equally understandable, given its place in history, he noted.
The rivalry between Chula Vista and Hilltop high schools goes back to 1959 when Hilltop was first established, thus giving the city of Chula Vista its second high school.
The population base in South County was relatively small in those days, with Hilltop joining Chula Vista, Sweetwater and Mar Vista as the only high schools serving students in South County.
Castle Park High School was established in 1963, followed by Bonita Vista High School in 1966, Montgomery in 1970 and Southwest in 1975.
Sweetwater was established in 1921 and remains one of the oldest high schools in the county. Chula Vista was established in 1947 and Mar Vista in 1951.
Lizarraga said the Hilltop-Chula Vista rivalry dates to when the student body at Chula Vista High School “was split in half” to help populate the new Hilltop campus.
For this reason, Liazrraga said the Hilltop-Chula Vista rivalry is also “very strong.”
“It spans two and, in some cases, even three generations,” he said.
The Chula Vista-Sweetwater rivalry was finally given a face with the recent creation of the Legacy of Pride trophy.
The face on the Chula Vista-Hilltop rivalry was cemented with the creation of the Chula Vista Kiwanis Bowl game, the schools’ annual football match-up.
Kiwanis Bowl XI will take place Friday, Sept. 14, when the Lancers host the Spartans. Kick-off is 7 p.m.
Chula Vista leads the series 8-2 and has won the five of the last six meetings. Hilltop’s victories came in 2005 and 2010.
The Spartans won, 17-10, last season in a fairly hotly contested game.
Chula Vista is favored again this season.
The Spartans are 2-0 and have outscored their two opponents so far this season 77-26.
The Lancers lost, 28-0, to visiting Olympian in the season opener on Aug. 31 and finished on the short end of a 17-0 score at Patrick Henry last week.
The game has become a big deal for alumni from the two west side Chula Vista schools. The Chula Vista Kiwanis Club presents a monetary donation to both schools’ football programs. Most valuable offensive and defensive players also are selected for each team, regardless of the score.
Chula Vista grads who have gone on to become American icons include professional golfer Billy Casper (1950), actor James Daughton (1968), pro football player Donnie Edwards (1991), actor-game show host Mario Lopez (1991) and pro baseball player Ty Wigginton (1995).
Notable Hilltop alumni include Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox (1966), actor-singer Tom Waits (1968) and pro baseball players Tommy Hinzo (1982), Bob Natal (1983), Todd Pratt (1985), Jose Silva (1991) and Mike Jacobs (1998).
Calling all Lancers and Spartans: Friday is the day to wear your school colors.
Chula Vista Kiwanis Bowl Series
2002: Chula Vista 44, Hilltop 14
2003: Chula Vista 57, Hilltop 37
2004: Chula Vista 27, Hilltop 20
2005: Hilltop 32, Chula Vista 13
2006: Chula Vista 47, Hilltop 7
2007: Chula Vista 42, Hilltop 19
2008: Chula Vista 42, Hilltop 8
2009: Chula Vista 49, Hilltop 18
2010: Hilltop 35, Chula Vista 14
2011: Chula Vista 17, Hilltop 10
•Chula Vista leads series 8-2
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