There were some shockers in last Friday’s San Diego Section football playoffs but the host Sweetwater Red Devils and Hilltop Lancers weren’t among the victims.
The second-seeded Red Devils defeated the 10th-seeded Clairemont Chieftains, 35-0, to pick up what is believed to be the first football playoff win for the National City school since 1997. Meanwhile, the third-seeded Lancers captured a gritty, 13-6, overtime decision over the sixth-seeded Hoover Cardinals.
“Every week it’s been a serious progression,” SuHi coach Brian Hay explained. “You want to get better each week and we’ve done that. It’s great to see all the hard work by the kids pay off.”
Of the five Metro Conference teams in action last week, only Hilltop and Sweetwater advanced to the next round.
The Devils (7-4) will host third-seeded Central Union (6-5) in Friday’s Division IV semifinals after the Spartans eliminated 11th-seeded Southwest El Centro 41-0. Kick-off is 7 p.m.
The Lancers (10-1) will play second-seeded Christian (10-1) in Friday’s Division III semifinals. Kick off is 7 p.m. at Granite Hills High School.
The Devils, who received an opening-round bye, held a 14-0 lead with 1:32 to play in the first quarter on a pair of touchdowns by Angel Reyes.
Reyes (13 rushes, 124 yards) scored on a one-yard run after the hosts had recovered a muffed punt at the 25-yard line. He broke off a 74-yard scoring run on his next carry.
Julio Roman supplied the extra-point kicks on both touchdowns.
Sweetwater led 28-0 at halftime. Antonio Garcia (six carries, 156 yards) scored on a 95-yard sideline scamper and James Zarate scored from 22 yards out.
A light but persistent rain abated for the second half but there was no further scoring until the waning minutes of the fourth quarter when Joshua Christopher recovered a fumble deep in Clairemont territory and Devil quarterback Christian Amon scored on a 13-yard run.
National City Mayor Ron Morrison was in attendance at the game; he had plenty to cheer for.
“It’s exciting,” Sweetwater athletic director Tim Latham said. “Division IV is right where we need to be. There’s some new excitement going on. We know we’ll likely move up a division in a few years but the foundation has been set.”
As effective as the Sweetwater offense was, the Devil defense was just as impressive in holding the Chiefs (5-7) to under 100 yards in the game. “Our defense played very disciplined,” Hay noted.
Last Friday’s win was the sixth straight for Sweetwater; Hay said his team will keep to its winning formula. “We’ll break down film, and just have to go out and execute,” he said.
In last Friday’s other Division IV quarterfinal games, top-seeded Monte Vista (6-5) defeated visiting University City, 41-2, while fifth-seeded Mater Dei Catholic (4-8) dropped a 63-21 decision at fourth-seeded La Jolla (5-6).
Eric Tims and Reid Martin each scored three touchdowns to pace La Jolla while Marco Morales completed three touchdown passes, including a pair to Iman Chatman-Dixon and one to Evan Davis, for the Crusaders.
Drake Madarang (24 carries, 89 yards) scored his second touchdown of the game in the OT tiebreaker on a four-yard run to send the reigning Metro-South Bay League champions to the division semifinals.
The extra period was set up in dramatic fashion when Hilltop’s Jared Akers intercepted a screen pass deep in Hoover territory in the fourth quarter that led to a game-tying two-yard touchdown run by Madarang.
Hilltop coach Cody Roelof noted the poor playing conditions played to his team’s defensive strength against the Cardinals (8-4).
“It was a hard fought game,” Roelof noted. “Hoover is a very good football team. Once again these kids fought to the end and never gave up. I’m extremely proud of the guys.”
Besides his key pick, Akers also recovered a fumble in the game. Overall, the Lancer defense recorded two interceptions and four sacks. Manny Fernandez also had one interception while Diego Urranga, David Vasquez, Chris Perez and David Velazquez each recorded sacks.
Vasquez keyed HIlltop with nine tackles.
Offense was minimal in the game. The Lancers collected 132 rushing yards and just 19 passing yards. Luis Hernandez had one kick-off return for 47 yards for the hosts.
The Hilltop defense sealed the win in the overtime tiebreaker by forcing two incompletions and corralling Hoover quarterback Daevon Bazzo on two running attempts.
The Lancers held the Cardinals’ big two-way threat Damonte Holiday to one touchdown — a five-yard run in the first quarter. Holiday was named Hoover’s defensive player of the game for helping contain Hilltop’s pounding rushing attack.
Madarang has rushed for 1,216 yards in 10 games and scored 11 touchdowns. HHS quarterback Daniel Sanchez has passed for 775 yards and three touchdowns against two picks.
Vasquez leads the Lancers with 95 defensive tackles and 6.5 sacks. As a team, Hilltop has recorded 25 sacks in 11 games.
Senior Paris Miller has rushed for 916 yards and scored 11 rushing touchdowns to lead Christian’s ground attack while Patriot senior signal-caller Michael Carrillo has thrown for an amazing 28 touchdowns against just one interception this season.
Carrillo’s primary targets include Kai Arvan with 30 catches for 697 yards and eight touchdowns, Trevor Howell with 31 catches for 600 yards and seven TDs. Trenton Sauls and Nick Sexton each have five receiving scores.
J.D. Parker leads the Christian defense with five interceptions.
The Patriots pulled away to post a 42-14 win in Friday’s quarterfinals as Miller rushed for 253 yards and scored four touchdowns.
Second-seeded Eastlake (10-2) had its season end in disappointing fashion as Jackson Koonce booted a 19-yard field goal with 5.1 seconds left to lift third-seeded Oceanside (10-2) to a 33-30 victory in an Open Division semifinal game.
On Thursday, third-seeded Cathedral Catholic (9-2) ended sixth-seeded Olympian’s season with a 43-7 win in the Division I quarterfinals. The Eagles finished 8-4.
(1) Mission Hills 24, (4) Helix 21
(3) Oceanside 33, Eastlake 30
Note: Oceanside converts a field goal attempt by Jackson Koonce with five seconds to play to win the game after storming back with 26 unanswered second-half points to erase a 30-7 halftime lead by Eastlake.
(8) Granite Hills 28, (1) Francis Parker 16
(5) San Marcos at (4) Santa Fe Christian
(3) Hilltop 13, (6) Hoover 6 (overtime)
(2) Christian 42, (7) Morse 14
(1) Monte Vista 41, (8) University City 2
(4) La Jolla 63, (5) Mater Dei Catholic 21
(3) Central Union 41, (11) Southwest El Centro 0
(2) Sweetwater 35, (10) Clairemont 0
(1) Crawford 29, (4) Palo Verde Valley 3
(2) Holtville 27, (3) Mountain Empire 22
(1) San Pasqual 42, (8) El Camino 9
(4) Carlsbad 33, (5) Grossmont 17
(3) Cathedral Catholic 43, (6) Olympian 7
Note: Dons jump out to 36-0 lead; Anthony Hughes passes 12 yards to Greg Goff for Eagles' lone score.
(2) Ramona 30, (7) Mt. Carmel 21
(8) Mission Bay 21, (1) Madison 18
(5) Rancho Buena Vista 50, Mt. Miguel 10
(3) Imperial 49, (6) El Capitan 42
(2) St Augustine 41, (7) West Hills 7