Hilltop High School’s football team printed new T-shirts in the preseason that reflected a shift in fortunes. They read: New League, New Legacy.
The Lancers have the opportunity to make those words a reality when they host the rampaging Mar Vista Mariners on Friday during gala homecoming ceremonies, with the winner crowned this year’s Metro-South Bay League champion.
Mar Vista (1-0 in league play, 5-3 overall) enters the game riding a four-game winning streak that includes victories against Patrick Henry (21-7 on Oct. 8), Castle Park (34-6 on Oct. 15), Sweetwater (28-26 on Oct. 22) and San Ysidro (47-14 last Friday).
Hilltop (1-0 in league play, 4-4 overall) snapped a three-game losing streak with last Friday’s 26-7 victory at Southwest in the league opener for both teams.
Mar Vista piled up a staggering 481 rushing yards on 43 carries against the Cougars last week. Rommel Cooper led the Mariners with 248 yards on 16 carries and scored three touchdowns on runs of 37, 71 and 43 yards. Justin Peoples rushed for 116 yards on 11 carries and scored two touchdowns on runs of 40 and 10 yards. The third MV horseman — Ruben Gonzales — had 52 yards on seven carries to go with a 38-yard rushing score.
Jordan Lertique tacked on 54 passing yards and one TD throw (to Demarcus Henderson) and the result was a behemoth 535 yards in total offense by the hosts. Mar Vista led 39-0 before SY's Danniel Cruz broke off a 72-yard scoring run in the third quarter.
The defense wasn’t bad, either, as the Mariners recorded eight sacks (three by Lashon Riggens and two each by Cash Thompson and Gaston Garza), one interception (by Adrian Iriarte) and one fumble recovery (by Henderson).
Cooper has rushed for 1,463 yards this season and scored 17 touchdowns. The Mariners’ three horsemen have combined for 2,800 yards in total offense and 25 touchdowns.
Mar Vista’s last league championship came in 1987; the Mariners have gone 11 years without a winning record. Both could change Friday.
Hilltop answers with a more balanced offensive attack led by quarterback Omar Hernandez, who is averaging 140 passing yards per game and 60 rushing yards per game.
Hernandez threw a pair of scoring passes to Mark McGuire (50 and 20 yards) while also rushing for a two-yard touchdown (to give him six on the season). Hernandez has completed 11 scoring passes in eight games — seven to McGuire.
Trey Ventura has four rushing TDs.
Southwest and San Ysidro will likely be playing for third place this Friday. Chandler Tarrant scored on a 12-yard run to account for the Cougars' other touchdown in last Friday's loss to Mar Vista while Lamar Weston scored on a five-yard run to account for the Raiders' lone touchdown in last week's loss to Hilltop.