Metro-South Bay League football play kicks off Friday and, perhaps not surprisingly, the two favorites to contend for this year’s championship banner both appear to be on a roll.
The Hilltop Lancers won their third consecutive game after opening the season with four losses by defeating the host Montgomery Aztecs, 27-6, last Friday.
The Mar Vista Mariners, meanwhile, also captured their third game in a row by topping the visiting Castle Park Trojans, 36-0, to improve to 4-3.
The Lancers and Mariners meet in the second game of league play on Oct. 26. The game also will serve as Hilltop’s homecoming game.
“It looks like both teams are peaking at the right time,” Lancer coach Cody Roelof said. “It will be a very tough game.”
Mar Vista has won the league title the last two years, with Hilltop finishing second both times.
The Mariners kick off league play Friday with a home game against the San Ysidro Cougars while the Lancers are on the road against the Southwest Raiders.
Both San Ysidro and Southwest have shown improvement this season. The Cougars (4-3 overall) are coming off a confidence-building 21-13 non-league victory against the visiting Sweetwater Red Devils; the Raiders (2-5 overall) have cooled off a bit after opening the season with two victories in their first three games.
Hilltop’s winning streak started with a dramatic 35-28 overtime victory against Bonita Vista on Sept. 28 and continued with a 44-15 victory against visiting Castle Park a week later.
“With a sophomore quarterback (Daniel Sanchez), it’s taken a while to get going,” Roelof said. “On the other hand, our first four losses were to teams with a combined 14-2 record. We played a tough opening schedule.”
The Lancers built a 27-0 lead in last week’s game on touchdown runs by senior Dustin Downs and Sanchez and back-to-back interception returns by Christian Sandoval and Brian Contreras.
Sanchez, who collected three touchdowns in the win over Bonita Vista and four in the victory against Castle Park, completed five of seven passing attempts for 31 yards at Montgomery.
Downs gained 120 yards on 21 carries; the Lancers totaled four interceptions overall on defense.
Through seven games, Sanchez has thrown for 701 yards and eight touchdowns against three interceptions. Downs has rushed for 384 yards and scored a team-leading six touchdowns (four rushing).
Russell Ewbank leads the team with seven sacks while Sandoval has five picks.
“The week of the Bonita game, we had a great week of practice — it started to come together then,” Roelof said. “The light bulb came on. Everything finally started clicking in their heads.”
Mar Vista QB Landon Clark threw for a pair of scores (both to Beto Garcia) and also rushed for a touchdown in last week’s win over the Trojans (1-6). The Mariners rushed for 391 yards — 103 yards by Bennie Smith, 97 yards by Jimmie Hills and 82 yards by Landon O’Connell. Smith and Hill each scored on TD runs.
The Mariners held Castle Park to 31 passing yards and 39 rushing yards. Adrian Iriarte had one interception while Johnny Hayes had 11 solo tackles.
Mar Vista steam-rollered Montgomery for 578 rushing yards in a 42-7 non-league win the previous week and collected 497 rushing yards behind the Beef Train in a 33-13 non-league victory at Santana to start the team’s current three-game winning streak.
The Mariners are averaging 383.4 rushing yards per game, have totaled 132 pancake blocks and are averaging 26.7 points per game.
Clark (46 carries, 558 rushing yards) leads the Imperial Beach squad with nine touchdowns. Kenny Nieves actually leads the team with 603 rushing yards, followed by Hill (445), O’Connell (361) and Smith (330).
Mar Vista is one of nine teams in Division IV with a winning record after advancing to last year’s Division III semifinals.
Brawley, Madison and St. Augustine lead the division with 6-1 records, followed by Imperial and Valley Center, both with 5-2 records.
“If we end up staying down there for any length of time, I think it’s a good fit for us,” Mariner coach Brian Hay said in regard to his team’s drop down to the Division IV enrollment level this season.
The Lancers opened the season with consecutive losses to Olympian (28-0 on Aug. 31), Patrick Henry (17-0 on Sept. 7), Chula Vista (42-20 on Sept. 14) and El Capitan (38-14 on Sept. 21).
Olympian is currently 7-0, Patrick Henry started the season 5-0, Chula Vista started the season 4-0 and El Capitan is currently in first place in the Grossmont Valley League after topping Santana, 35-21, last Friday.
Omar Felix (18 rushes, 79 yards) scored Southwest’s lone touchdown in last Friday’s 37-7 loss to defending Metro-Pacific League champion Mater Dei Catholic, which collected two sacks (one each by Sebastian Kelley and Matt Garcia) and three interceptions (two by Memo Lugo) on defense.
Sebastian Aluza led the victorious Crusaders with 11 tackles. Oscar Lezcano paced Southwest with 10 tackles, including eight first hits.
The Raiders’ four-game losing streak also includes setbacks to Montgomery (21-7 on Sept. 21), La Jolla Country Day (45-0 on Set. 28) and Sweetwater (27-6 on Oct. 5).
Southwest is led by juniors Dominic Villamor and Maceo Harris and senior Chris Martinez. Villamor has passed for 857 yards and six touchdowns but has been picked nine times. He also leads the team with 257 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
Harris (38 carries, 247yards) ranks next on the team with four touchdowns while Martinez has caught 18 passes for 260 yards and two scores. Harris has also caught four passes for 201 yards.
San Ysidro scored all its points in the first half last week against the Red Devils. Mike Thomas scored on a four-yard run in the first quarter. David Diaz then passed to Ronald Steward for a 28-yard score in the second quarter. Just before halftime, Gilbert Suarez returned an intercepted pass for 47 yards.
Sweetwater (1-6) rallied with 13 points in the third quarter but both teams played to a scoreless standoff in the fourth quarter.
San Ysidro coach Tyler Arciaga said he was told by a school administrator that last Friday’s victory was the Cougars’ first-ever against Sweetwater.
“We got beat last year, 42-3, so for the kids to come out and put that behind uthem was a great step in the right direction,” said Arciaga, a Bonita Vista High Schoolo alum. “It was a tale of two halves, but our kids did a nice job of holding off Sweetwater’s fourth quarter resilient onslaught.”
As for upcoming league play, Arciaga noted it will be challenging. “Mar Vista is very formidable with some good wins this year — their kids fly to the ball and are well coached,” he said. “Hilltop has some nice wins and seems to be getting better as the season goes along. Southwest has also improved quite a bit and is playing teams tough until the end.”
Prep Football Scoreboard
Friday, Oct. 12
Olympian 34, Otay Ranch 20
Chula Vista 51, Bonita Vista 21
Chula Vista Calvary Christian Academy 40, Julian 6
Sunset League (8-Man)
Ocean View Christian Academy 44, Warner 0
Upland Christian 70, Lutheran 30
Mater Dei Catholic 37, Southwest 7
Hilltop 27, Montgomery 6
San Ysidro 21, Sweetwater 13
Mar Vista 36, Castle Park 0
Friday, Oct. 19
Olympian at Chula Vista, 7 p.m.
Bonita Vista at Eastlake, 7 p.m.
Escondido at Otay Ranch, 7 p.m.
Mater Dei Catholic at Montgomery, 7 p.m.
Sweetwater at Castle Park, 7 p.m.
Metro-South Bay League
Hilltop at Southwest, 7 p.m.
San Ysidro at Mar Vista, 7 p.m.
Mojave at Ocean View Christian Academy, 3 p.m.
Lutheran at Van Nuys Fulton, 7 p.m.
Olympian 1-0, 7-0
Eastlake 1-0, 5-2
Otay Ranch 1-1, 6-1
Chula Vista 1-1, 5-2
Bonita Vista 0-2, 2-5
San Pasqual Academy 2-0, 4-2
Calvary Christian Academy 1-0, 5-1
Classical Academy 1-1, 2-4
Borrego Springs 0-1, 1-4
Julian 0-2, 2-5
Sunset League (8-Man)
Ocean View Christian Academy 1-0, 3-2-1
St. Joseph Academy 1-0, 1-2-1
Warner 0-1, 1-4
Lutheran 0-1, 1-5
Prep Playoff Ticker
Division I: Otay Ranch 6-1, Eastlake 5-2, Chula Vista 5-2
Division II: San Ysidro 4-3, Hilltop 3-4, Bonita Vista 2-5, Sweetwater 1-6
Division III: Olympian 7-0, Southwest 2-5, Castle Park 1-6, Montgomery 1-6
Division IV: Mater Dei Catholic 5-2, Mar Vista 4-3
Division V: Chula Vista Calvary Christian Academy 5-1
8-Man: Ocean View Christian Academy 3-2-1, Lutheran 1-5