Each week a new hero seems to emerge for the second-ranked Eastlake Titans. In week 1 it was place-kicker Marcelo Urrutia. In week 2 it was running back Zach Bannon. In week 3 it was receiver Chris Fletcher. In week 4 it was quarterback Jordan Hines (turned receiver) and rusher Jude Isbell. In week 5, drum roll, it was running back Aaron Baltazar.
Each has his own story. Urrutia booted the game-winning field goal with seven seconds remaining to allow the Titans to slip past Moorpark in their season opener while Hines caught the game-winning touchdown pass from reserve signal-caller Josh Palet with 15 seconds to play to stun visiting Steele Canyon, 20-17, in a match-up of two San Diego Section Top 10-ranked teams.
Baltazar might be the more inspirational one. He suffered a minor heart attack prior to the start of the season yet made a miraculous return to the line-up in time to lead Eastlake to a 24-22 non-league victory against three-time defending Cathedral Catholic last Friday in Del Mar. Baltazar rushed 15 times for 180 yards and scored two touchdowns, including one that went for a 75-yard jaunt and another that totaled 21 yards.
Baltazar stepped in when Isbell went down with a concussion against Steele Canyon.
“He (Baltazar) had been back the week before but didn’t have enough reps,” EHS coach John McFadden said. “He was able to step up and get to play in this game. We’ve had guys go down but also have guys step up and fill those roles. It seems like it happens every game.”
The Titans were down early 7-0 after the Dons scored on a 12-yard pass from Garrett Bogart to Szongaia Brown in the second quarter. But the South County visitors tacked on the remaining 17 points in the half to lead by 10 points at intermission.
Baltazar evened the game at 7-all on his 21-yard scoring run while Urrutia kicked a 30-yard field goal and Hines tossed a 13-yard scoring pass to Bannon.
A 38-yard field goal by Cathedral’s Jacob Roman narrowed the score to 17-13 but the Titans regrouped to take a 26-13 lead on Baltazar’s 75-yard TD run later in the third quarter.
The Dons (1-4) scored twice in the fourth quarter on short runs by J.J. Stavola and Jonny Martin but missed both two-point conversion attempts.
“We needed to execute and work on improving our blocking — it paid off,” McFadden said. “We were up by two touchdowns. We let them slip back into the game but I think overall we controlled the game.”
The Titans rushed for 297 yards and tacked on 75 passing yards to Cathedral Catholic’s 284 rushing yards and 119 passing yards. Martin was the workhorse for the Dons with 222 yards on 31 carries.
Eastlake’s defense was up to the task, with Hermes Franco leading the visitors with 14 tackles, Clark Moses registering 13 hits and Jesse Lapid coming up with 12 stops. The trio of Blake Wilson, Matt Wilhelm and Eddie Campain each contributed 10 hits.
Wilson also had two sacks while Travis Gardner, Baltazar and Fletcher each made interceptions. Gardner also chipped in with one blocked punt.
Gardner, also the Titan’ punter, averaged 54.3 yards on three punts.
Heading into Friday’s game against the host Montgomery Aztecs (3-1), Hines has passed for 388 yards and four touchdowns while Fletcher has rushed for 270 yards and caught six passes for 206 yards. Bannon has rushed for 206 yards while Gardner has nine catches for 107 yards.
Eastlake is average 335 rushing yards per game and 102 passing yards per game.
Isbell, who rushed for 701 yards and six TDs in the Titans’ opening four games, is expected to miss Friday’s game.
San Diego Section
SD Sportswriters/Sportscasters Poll
(Through Oct. 2)
1. Vista Panthers 4-0
2. Eastlake Titans 5-0
3. Helix Highlanders 4-0
4. Oceanside Pirates 2-2
5. Torrey Pines Falcons 4-0
6. Valley Center Jaguars 5-0
7. Steele Canyon Cougars 4-1
8. Mt. Miguel Matadors 5-0
9. La Costa Canyon Mavs 3-2
10. Mission Hills Grizzlies 3-1
11. Ramona Bulldogs 4-1
12. Rancho Bernardo Broncos 4-1
13. Grossmont Foothillers 4-0
14. St. Augustine Saints 4-1
Friday, Oct. 1
Eastlake 24, Cathedral Catholic 22
Olympian 28, Madison 17
Mater Dei Catholic 28, Del Norte 13
Castle Park 47, Rock Academy 0
Montgomery 26, Mar Vista 22
Ocean View Christian Academy 52, Pacific Lutheran (Torrance) 6
Kuyper Prep (National City) 62, Maranatha Christian 16
Temescal Canyon 28, Otay Ranch 14
Mouat (Canada) 35, Bonita Vista 14
Bakersfield Christian 16, Southwest 13
Santana 49, San Ysidro 14
Mira Mesa 49, Chula Vista 7
Mt. Miguel 42, Sweetwater 7
Julian 14, Chula Vista Calvary Christian Academy 6
Friday, Oct. 8
Ocean View Christian Academy at Vista Calvary Christian, 3:45 p.m.
Mater Dei Catholic at Olympian, 7 p.m.
Eastlake at Montgomery, 7 p.m.
Chula Vista at Castle Park, 7 p.m.
Sweetwater at Otay Ranch, 7 p.m.
Hilltop vs. Bonita Vista at Southwestern College, 7 p.m.
Patrick Henry at Mar Vista, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 8
Chula Vista Calvary Christian Academy vs. Foothills Christian at Seau Field (La Mesa), 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 8
Kuyper Prep (National City) at Warner, 3:30 p.m.