Thu, Nov 10 2011 06:13 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The Olympian Eagles did not exactly go kicking and screaming into the Metro-Mesa League this season but the move certainly wasn’t something viewed through rose-colored glasses. The Eagles, however, may have the last laugh — and their third consecutive league title (in three different leagues) — after topping the five-time defending Mesa champion Eastlake Titans, 16-7, last Friday on the Titans’ turf.
The biggest win in Olympian’s modest five-year history? You bet, said veteran Eagles coach Gil Warren.
“It has a lot of ramifications because we were kind of forced into playing in what is really a Division I league,” said Warren, who owns three CIF division championships (all at Castle Park) in his long coaching resume. “Our kids stepped up and played real well.”
Olympian, which ranks as one of the Sweetwater district’s smallest enrollment schools, had until this year competed at the Division IV enrollment level (the Eagles are at the Division III level this season). Meanwhile, the Metro-Mesa’s other members — Eastlake, Otay Ranch, Chula Vista and Bonita Vista — all rank among the district’s larger schools.
Warren left the politics there. His team took care of business on the field.
David versus Goliath? It was simply a case of no regrets on the part of the visitors, who clearly left their best game on the field.
“It was a phenomenal win for us,” Warren underscored. “We had a big win against Otay Ranch (34-6 on Oct. 21), then we beat Chula Vista (20-14 on Oct. 28), which was another big win, and Eastlake was suddenly there on the schedule. Our kids stepped up even more.”
In extremely wet and slippery conditions at-times punctuated by driving rain, the Eagles (6-3 overall, 3-0 in league) capitalized on two big offensive plays and let their hard-hitting defense — and the elements — shut down the injury-plagued Titans (6-3, 2-1).
The Eagles have excelled at running the football this season and, given the inclement weather, stuck to that formula. Olympian rushed the ball 41 times for 240 yards while tacking on just two pass completions in five attempts for 37 yards.
Asante Gibson had 11 carries for 84 yards. He scored on a 30-yard sideline run in the first quarter to help give the visitors a 7-0 lead.
The game looked to stay there — the outcome very much in doubt — until OHS quarterback Christopher Humphrey hit twin brother Christein Humphrey in the end zone on a 29-yard scoring pass with 24 seconds to play in the half.
This is not to say that the hosts — ranked fifth in the section entering the game — did not have ample opportunities to score, because they did. A last-second tip by Olympian’s Andrell Snowden in the end zone prevented a certain touchdown catch by Eastlake’s Darran Hall in the second quarter.
The Titans blocked a punt and took over at the Olympian 19-yard line and also recovered a muffed punt at the visitors’ 34-yard line. In both instances, the hosts were unable to score.
Eastlake finally did score with 10:49 left in the fourth quarter when Josh Palet (10 completions in 20 passing attempts for 126 yards) connected with Hall on a 15-yard TD play in the end zone.
With 8:08 to play, the home fans began to chant “I believe that we can win!” But that refrain was reserved for the visitors when a punt snap out of the end zone resulted in a two-point safety for Olympian.
For the Eagles, Ian Autman had 14 carries for 83 yards while Kevin Ehm had eight carries for 48 yards. Gibson also starred on defense with a team-leading 14 tackles, including 10 first hits. Santana Leomiti had 10 stops while Arturo Cuevas was credited with nine tackles.
Paul Padilla recorded one sack for the Eagles while Victor Ramirez made one fumble recovery.
Eastlake’s normally productive rushing game was delivered a blow early in the game when Tavarus Green left the field after being crunched. Green rushed for 259 yards and scored three touchdowns in a 49-23 victory over Bonita Vista the previous week but left last Friday’s game with just 18 rushing yards on eight carries.
The Titans finished the game with 92 total rushing yards — about one-third of the team’s season average.
Eastlake coach John McFadden tipped his hat to the Eagles.
Aaron Baltazar led the Titans with 48 yards on nine carries. Hall had two catches for 57 yards. Seven other players made one catch.
Keifer Graham led Eastlake with 12 tackles, while Nasser Ali and Tyrone Stevens each had 11. Nathan Mitchell had one sack while Hall had one fumble recovery.
The loss was the third in five games for Eastlake, the section’s No. 1 team at midseason before a massive wave of injuries hit.
A season to savor? The Eagles have defeated four Division I teams (Eastlake, Otay Ranch, Sweetwater and Chula Vista), one Division II team (Torrey Pines) and one Division IV team (Del Norte). Both Eastlake and Torrey Pines were section top 10 teams when Olympian met them.
Losses have been to Lancaster Paraclete (7-2), third-ranked Cathedral Catholic (8-1) and seventh-ranked Madison (8-0-1), the latter two schools reigning San Diego Section champions.
“I think those tough games at the start of the season helped us for league play,” Warren said. “We play Thursday for the championship, and I’m worried about Bonita Vista. I know they’d like nothing better than to knock us off.”
Chula Vista 28, Otay Ranch 17
The host Spartans (5-4, 2-2) completed just one pass in muddy conditions for 12 yards but made use of their 191 rushing yards to defeat the visiting Mustangs (5-4, 0-3) in a Mesa League game. Javante Reed rushed 25 times for 148 yards and scored two touchdowns. Rudy Segobia scored on an 86-yard kick-off return while Isaac Martinez (43-yard interception return) rounded out the CV scoring. The Spartans recovered four fumbles, including two by Rudy Jaimes and one each by Hui Wolfgram and Ray Clapper. Jaimes also had one sack.
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