Are the Olympian Eagles, ranked 13th in the San Diego Section and second overall among Division IV teams, an unstoppable force in the new Metro-Pacific League? Or are the Castle Park Trojans staging a return to glory?
Both questions will be answered Friday at OHS as the Metro Conference’s newest football league stages its highest stakes game to date: a battle of league unbeatens.
Friday’s contest could very well stand up as the Metro-Pacific League’s first championship game.
But, according to Olympian head coach Gil Warren, it merely rates as the second of three steps to this year’s championship title — for either the host Eagles or the Trojans.
Olympian defeated host Montgomery, 30-14, in nothing short of an inspirational showcase last Friday while Castle Park held off the visiting Sweetwater Red Devils, 41-35, amid a homecoming gala.
The Eagles enter Friday’s showdown 7-1 overall, 1-0 in league play. The Trojans, bidding for a berth in the Division III playoffs, are 6-2 overall, 1-0 in league play.
Olympian entered last Friday’s game against the host Aztecs (5-3, 0-1) without the services of standout running back Alex Cornist, the latest key performer to visit the sideline this season.
But the Eagles rode two big passing plays by quarterback Cobrin Humphrey, capitalized on two botched Montgomery punting attempts in the shadow of the end zone standards and flexed their collective defensive muscles in taming an Aztec team looking for a 1-0 start in league play.
“All week our coaches preached three things: alignment, assignment and technique,” said Humphrey, who finished the game with 197 passing yards and the two TD throws. “We executed out there and played with a lot of emotion.”
Olympian led 23-0 before the Aztecs could muster a touchdown of their own.
Devon Flores scored on a one-yard run and Humphrey shocked everyone in the Otay Mesa stadium with a 39-yard scoring pass to Steve Exum. The visitors closed out a highly productive 16-point first quarter as Santana Leomiti was credited with a two-point safety when the ball was snapped out of the end zone.
Akeem Foxworth kept the momentum going for the Eagles with a seven-yard scoring run in the second quarter.
Montgomery got on the scoreboard via a one-yard scoring run by quarterback Jordan Lippman. But Olympian matched that with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Humphrey to Troy Jackson that put the visitors ahead 30-6.
Diego Rodriguez scored on a seven-yard run and also added a two-point conversion for the Aztecs’ final points in the fourth quarter.
"We knew when we saw that #34 (Cornist) wasn't going to play that they weren't going to beat us with their running game," Montgomery coach Julio Alcala said. "We made some costly mistakes that we couldn't recover from. Being down 23 points, it was difficult to rely on our running game to get back into the game. The 14 points we did score, we had to work hard for them."
The Eagles did generate 187 yards in rushing offense, including 60 yards by Flores. “Even though we had injuries, we had replacements for them and those guys stepped up,” said Humphrey, who has stepped up with 788 passing yards this season to complement his team’s primary rushing attack.
Castle Park, meanwhile, played catch-up to the Red Devils (0-1, 1-7) at the onset before the shoe was put on the other foot and the Trojans had a 41-21 lead. Paul Sierra rushed for 205 yards and scored five touchdowns, including one on a 44-yard kick return, to spark the hosts.
Jamar Shelby rushed for 74 yards and Javier Marquez scored on a 35-yard interception return.
Sierra, who scored on runs of eight, 60, nine and 26 yards, has rushed for 847 yards and scored 13 TDs this season.
Sweetwater took a 14-7 lead on a pair of scoring passes from Adam Aguon to Daniel Castro (28 and 11 yards). The Trojans responded with four unanswered touchdowns before Aguon scored on a nine-yard run in the third quarter to start the Red Devils' comeback.
SuHi tacked on a pair of fourth quarter passing touchdowns by Aguon (15 yards to Adrian Lisback and 48 yards to Luis Venegas) to fall six points short. Aguon finished the game with four passing scores as well as one rushing TD.