Technically, Friday’s game between the Bonita Vista Barons and host Olympian Eagles will serve as this year’s Metro-Mesa League championship contest.
But, for all practical purposes, the league title was decided last Friday as the Eagles defeated the Eastlake Titans, 35-21, in front of a regional television audience.
Olympian remains just one of two undefeated teams in the San Diego Section — Army-Navy Academy is the other, both with 9-0 records. The Eagles (3-0 in league play) can secure an automatic berth in the upcoming Division III playoffs by stopping the Barons (0-3, 2-7).
The win over Eastlake (2-1, 6-3) validated Olympian’s No. 6 section ranking, according to head coach Gil Warren.
“Our kids stepped up,” said Warren, whose team won its first 11 games in 2009 and advanced to the Division II championship game last year. “We took too many penalties but our kids came to play. Eastlake is a great team. Our kids stepped up when we needed them.
“This is a big win for us. Last year (a 16-7 win for the Eagles) was a surprise, so this year we asked ourselves if we were for real. I think we are. I think we can play with anybody.”
The Titans could not recover from two turnovers that gave Olympian a 14-0 lead just 3:22 into the game.
“These were two very good teams that faced each other,” underscored EHS coach John McFadden, whose squad remains ranked second among the section’s Division I teams. “The bottom line is that they did a better job than we did. It boils down to that. We made some plays but we didn’t make enough plays.
“We were in the game. At some point in the second half we just needed to make some plays, and we couldn’t do it.”
The Eagles used the air to score their opening two touchdowns as Olympian signal-caller Christopher Humphrey passed 29 yards to twin brother Christein Humphrey and 30 yards to Andrell Snowden.
The Titans rallied to trail 14-10 on a 30-yard field goal by Aeden Johnson and four-yard scoring catch by Tavarus Green and then took a 17-14 lead with 5:19 left before halftime on a five-yard pass from Ty Stevens to Green on fourth-and-goal.
But the Eastlake defense could not contain the Eagles’ high-flying offense. A 34-yard pass from Christopher Humphrey to Christein Humphrey positioned Olympian at the Titan 39-yard line. After Sergio Bailey caught a fourth-and-two pass to keep the drive alive, Snowden hauled in a pass to move the ball to the Eastlake 14 with 1:36 left in the half.
Snowden capped the scoring march with a two-yard run in the final minute to put the Eagles back in front 21-17.
The teams went back and forth from there. Eastlake regained the lead at 24-21 on Green’s third touchdown of the game on a seven-yard run with 6:20 remaining in the third quarter.
The EHS scoring drive was set up by an interception by Isiah Olave.
Olympian responded on big plays by Bailey, Isaiah Gibson, Christopher Humphrey and Daniel Gutierrez to move the ball to the Titan one-yard line. Humphrey took the ball in from there on a quarterback keeper with 2:40 to play in the third quarter.
Score it 28-24 Eagles.
Olympian’s superior execution determined the outcome of the game from that point.
Stevens (189 passing yards) was sacked on fourth down after the visitors had penetrated to the hosts’ 30-yard line. The Eagles capitalized on the turnover to go up 35-24 when Gibson scored around end on a two-yard run with 12.3 seconds left in the quarter.
The Titans subsequently took the ball to the OHS 16-yard line but a fourth-down pass failed.
Eastlake’s final two possessions ended in failure. Snowden intercepted a pass at the Eagle 18-yard line; the Eagles recovered a fumble with 3:11 left in the game at midfield.
Despite all the dramatic momentum changes through the opening three quarters of play, neither team scored in the fourth quarter.
No question that Olympian’s defense came up big: The Eagles recorded one pick (Snowden), one blocked punt (Rey Osuna) and three fumble recoveries (Osuna, Mikel Clementi and Lucky Sansano).
Zac Norton led the victors with 20 tackles; Osuna made 13 stops while Gutierrez had 12.
As a team, the Eagles recorded 18 quarterback hurries. Stevens had 17 incompletions in 32 passing attempts.
For the hosts, Christopher Humphrey completed eight of 12 passing attempts for 181 yards and two touchdowns. He was picked once.
Harrison Hulin rushed 17 times for 68 yards while Christein Humphrey had two catches for 65 yards, Snowden had three catches for 57 yards and Bailey caught two passes for 43 yards.
Gibson had three kick-off returns for 89 yards.
Angel Garcia nailed all five PAT conversions he attempted in the game.
Olympian will be facing a Bonita Vista team that has dropped its last five games, including last Friday’s 43-19 non-league loss against Mt. Miguel on homecoming.
BV quarterback Austin Kane has thrown for 1,313 yards and nine touchdowns this season but has been intercepted eight times; Atal Khaliq has 34 catches for 596 yards and has scored four times.
Giancarlo Centeno and Mathew Pike each scored TDs last week while David Villasenor booted a pair of field goals.
Christopher Humphrey has passed for 1,174 yards and 16 TDs against five interceptions. As a team, the Eagles are averaging 253.1 rushing yards per game.
Snowden has rushed for 883 yards and caught six passes for 99 yards. He ranks second on the team with 10 total touchdowns. Bailey (33 catches, 686 yards) tops Olympian with 11 scores.
Defensively, the Eagles have amassed 22 sacks, 17 picks and six fumble recoveries.
Eastlake will close out regular season play with a home game against fellow Division I foe Otay Ranch (1-2, 6-3). The Mustangs are coming off a last-minute 31-26 loss to visiting Chula Vista last Friday.
A victory by the Titans should solidify the team’s quest for a first-round playoff bye while a win by Otay Ranch could scramble playoff seeding in the division.
Mustang QB Kyle Hawkins passed for 190 yards and rushed for 174 yards in last Friday’s loss to the Spartans (2-2, 6-3). He threw one scoring pass and also notched a rushing score.
Chris Martin led ORHS with three TDs in the game — two rushing and one receiving.
For the season, Hawkins has passed for 1,746 yards with 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and also rushed for 707 yards with six more scores.
Martin has 43 catches for 1,102 yards and 17 TDs (12 receiving).
Metro-Mesa League Standings
•Olympian Eagles 3-0, 9-0
•Eastlake Titans 2-1, 6-3
•Chula Vista Spartans 2-2, 6-3
•Otay Ranch Mustangs 1-2, 6-3
•Bonita Vista Barons 0-3, 2-7
Spartans hang in there, trip up Otay Ranch in key Metro-Mesa match-up
Let’s see here ... the Chula Vista Spartans won their opening four games of the season, lost two in a row, won one, lost one and won one.
That amounts to a record of 6-3 and the Spartans are hoping to extend it to 7-3 by defeating Rancho Santa Margarita Tesoro (6-3) in a non-league match Friday at CVHS. Game time is 7 p.m.
The Spartans wrapped up Metro-Mesa League play last Friday by pulling out a last-minute victory, 31-26, at Otay Ranch to all but assure themselves of a berth in the upcoming Division I playoffs. A 7-3 record would likely secure a home game.
Jevante Reed rushed 28 times for 198 yards and scored four touchdowns. His final TD came on a 24-yard run with less than a minute to play in the game.
The game-winning drive was kept alive by a fourth-down conversion. The lead changed five times in this exciting game.
Ricky Estevez passed for 150 yards and a touchdown. Reed recorded three rushing scores and one receiving score.
Carlos Aparicio booted a 30-yard field goal and also successfully tacked on four extra-point kicks. He also averaged 38 yards on five punts.
Defensively, Adrian Dela Vega and Richard Walker stopped Mustang drives with picks.
For the season, Estevez has passed for 1,399 yards and 14 touchdowns while Reed has rushed for 1,302 yards and tops the team with 18 touchdowns.