Fri, Oct 25 2013 02:19 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
While the newly created Open Division and reshuffled Division I tier might be stocked with the San Diego Section’s elite football teams, the equally realigned Division IV tier just might possess the most mystery of them all.
Which team will step forward to win the 2013 Division IV championship? That’s anyone’s guess at this point with just three regular season games remaining for most of the section’s teams.
Five of the six Metro Conference teams in Division IV are in contention to make the playoffs, including all four Metro-Pacific League teams. Castle Park defeated San Ysidro, 37-24, last Friday to improve to 4-3 on the season in a key match-up of divisional foes. San Ysidro is 3-4, as are Sweetwater and Montgomery.
Mater Dei Catholic, the two-time defending Metro-Pacific League champion, is 2-5.
The Metro-Pacific League champion receives an automatic berth in the Division IV playoffs and it’s likely the top three finishers in the league will qualify, perhaps all four teams.
Sweetwater showed it has some muscle by downing host Mar Vista, 28-27, last Friday to extend its modest winning streak to two games. The Mariners are three-time defending Metro-South Bay League champions and SuHi’s win does much to legitimize its Metro-Pacific title hopes, especially after handing 2013 Metro-South Bay League front-runner Hilltop its first loss of the season a week earlier.
Hilltop is 6-1 and almost assuredly will qualify for the Division III playoffs.
Mar Vista competes at the Division II level.
Sweetwater overcame an early 14-0 deficit to post last Friday’s non-league victory. The Devils overcame a 9-3 deficit against Hilltop a week earlier to post a come-from-behind 17-9 win to christen the National City school’s new synthetic athletic field.
So, does that mean the Devils are tough enough to prevail as league champions this season?
They will find out Friday when they host Mater Dei Catholic. The Crusaders are coming off a 27-20 overtime non-league loss to Hilltop and should be primed to make a statement.
Last Friday’s Sweetwater-Mar Vista match-up was noteworthy in that it marked the return of current SuHi coach Brian Hay to Mar Vista, where he had coached for six seasons, winning three league titles. Hay also had brought his entire staff to Sweetwater, as well as the Mar Vista double-wing game plan.
Hay called his Devils’ come-from-behind victory “bittersweet,” but sweet it had to be for the National City bunch, which now carries a lot of momentum into Friday’s league opener against Mater Dei Catholic.
The Devils racked up 279 rushing yards. Tony Garcia rushed for 139 yards on nine carries and scored two touchdowns — one on a 50-yard run and another on a 63-yard dash. Angel Reyes rushed for 118 yards on 17 attempts and ripped off a 45-yard touchdown run.
James Zarate also scored on a one-yard run for Sweetwater while Reyes scored on a two-point conversion in the second quarter.
Reyes’ two-point conversion would prove critical in the game after the Mariners rallied from a 28-21 deficit when Brandon Scales scored on a 42-yard pass from quarterback Dan Lujon late in the game.
Mar Vista missed the ensuing extra-point kick, leaving the Mariners with a one-point deficit.
The Devils had missed the PAT conversion on their first touchdown — a 50-yard run by Garcia. But they managed to knot the halftime score at 14-14 when Reyes scored on a two-point conversion run following Zarate’s one-yard score.
Hill finished the night with 115 rushing yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns. Scales, who caught three passes for 79 yards, also scored twice for the Mariners.
Mar Vista took an early two touchdown lead on a one-yard run by Hill and a 20-yard fumble return by Scales, both in the first quarter.
Colt Meling led the MV defense that collected one sack and forced one fumble with seven tackles.
Hill leads the Mariners with 1,199 rushing yards and has scored 13 rushing touchdowns.
Sweetwater is averaging 282 rushing yards per game and has scored 15 rushing touchdowns.
Around the league
Mater Dei Catholic held leads of 7-0 and 17-6 over Hilltop before losing in the overtime tie-breaker. Marco Morales tossed a pair of touchdowns to Iman Chatman-Dixon (covering 42 and 35 yards) while teammate Rodrigo Garcia booted field goals of 22 and 37 yards.
Two other teams have designs on winning this year’s Metro-Pacific League title: Castle Park and Montgomery. Neither should be counted out. The teams meet in Friday’s Warrior Bowl rivalry game on the Aztecs’ campus.
In fact, it appears as if every league game will take on the aura of a championship game right down to the end of the season between the league’s four teams.
Castle Park enters Metro-Pacific League play with a two-game winning streak after downing the Cougars. Jordan Danielson rushed for 154 yards and three touchdowns while Eric King also scored a rushing touchdown and Feliepe Liborio tacked on 13 kicking points (four PATs, three field goals).
In another game pitting teams from the Metro-Pacific and Metro-South Bay leagues, Montgomery defeated visiting Southwest, 24-6, to enhance its Division IV playoff standing. Deion Moore passed for one touchdown and rushed for another while Chauncey Emerson (eight carries, 123 yards) caught a scoring pass and Steven Rangel scored one rushing TD.
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