For those in attendance at last Friday’s high school football game at Southwestern College between the host Bonita Vista Barons and the Steele Canyon Cougars, one thing was apparent: The outcome would come down to which team could break off the big plays to break an otherwise defensive stalemate.
Steele Canyon did, capitalizing on a fumble in the face of the Barons’ goal line, a 78-yard punt return, 64-yard pass play and 60-yard interception return for touchdowns to crown a 34-10 non-league victory.
The win evened the Cougars’ early season record at 1-1 while Bonita Vista fell to a 0-2 start.
It was evident early that the defenses of both teams came ready to play. The Barons couldn’t get any decent field position and constantly had to punt the ball from deep in their territory. Likewise, Steele Canyon couldn’t seem to move the ball each time after receiving it at midfield.
That changed when BV’s John Matranga fumbled the ball on a second-effort run and the Cougars’ P.J. Russell recovered the ball at the Baron 17-yard line.
Three plays later Ernie Flint made it 7-0 for the visitors on a one-yard scoring run with three minutes elapsed in the opening quarter.
Flint’s TD looked to hold up through the first half of play until Britten Wright returned a punt 78 yards in the dying seconds of the first half. Wright took the ball down the Baron sideline untouched for a 14-0 lead.
Steele Canyon finally mustered a sustained offensive drive, taking the opening possession of the second half 80 yards on eight plays for a score as senior quarterback T.J. Carlyon hit senior receiver Chanceller James on a 64-yard strike.
The hosts fought back to cut the lead to 21-10 in the fourth quarter as John Matranga scored a touchdown, Devon Roncorroni kicked the PAT and Osmark Millan split the uprights on a field goala nd appeared driving for more until Wright grabbed a tipped BV pass and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown.
Steele Canyon racked up 13 decisive points in the final quarter to stamp its name on the victory.
Lonnie Tuff closed out the game with a bruising 33-yard touchdown run with seven minutes to play
Cougar coach Ron Boehmke indicated his team would depend on defense in the early part of the season until his new-look offense gained confidence and experience.
Steele Canyon, which dropped a 27-7 non-league game in its season opener at four-time defending Division III champion Cathedral Catholic, was led onto the field by Carlyon, one of many new starters on the team this season.
Tuff finished the game with 64 rushing yards on 10 carries. In two games, Tuff has rushed for 131 yards while Flint has rushed for 107 yards.
Carlyon has completed 13 of 35 passing attempts in two games for a modest 200 yards, with two touchdown passes and five interceptions.
James leads the team’s receivers with six catches for 118 yards.
The Cougars return to the road on Friday, Sept. 16, with a non-league game at Temescal Canyon (2-0) before hosting the top-ranked Eastlake Titans on Sept. 23.
Through the opening two weeks of play, 34 teams remain undefeated in the San Diego Section, including five East County squads. Mt. Miguel, Granite Hills, Santana, Grossmont and Foothills Christian all boast 2-0 records in the early part of the season.
Mt. Miguel, which entered its game at Valhalla ranked seventh in the section (first among Division IV teams), edged the Norsemen, 28-27, on a blocked field goal with 1:07 remaining last Friday. It was the second blocked field goal of the game for the Matadors.
Derrick Dunn led Mt. Miguel with 130 rushing yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Ernest Williams passed for 152 yards. Tony Dozier and Williams each scored one rushing touchdown.
Valhalla quarterback Frank Foster threw for 300 yards in the loss, connecting with Kevin Mills on three touchdown plays, while also rushing for a score. Mills finished the game with 147 receiving yards, including TD catches of five, 93 and 42 yards.
The Norsemen (1-1) led 13-7 at halftime and 27-21 with 9:57 to play. Valhalla’s potential game-winning boot was low and hit Matador defender Daniel Morales in the facemask.
In other games last Friday:
The Landon Lozoya Show continued for the Santana Sultans in their 35-25 non-league win against visiting Kearny as he snagged two long touchdown passes and also turned in several key defensive plays. Lozoya broke loose to score on plays of 51 and 80 yards on passes from QB Kyle Gasner. Gasner passed for 306 yards and three TDs in the game.
The Sultans forced five turnovers against the Komets (1-1).
Granite Hills remained perfect on the season as Michael Millien rushed for two touchdowns, Tyler Hopper threw a 61-yard score to Taylor Fleury, Dylan Whittingham scored on a short run and kicker Gabe Kane booted two field goals to lead the host Eagles past the El Capitan Vaqueros 34-20.
The Vaqueros (0-2) scored two late touchdowns on passes from Josh Murphy and Kevin Browning after falling behind 31-7.
Grossmont’s defense stiffened in the second half to hold off a strong University City team, 21-14, in a game played at La Jolla High School. Jeff Bowers scored on an 86-yard interception return to provide the margin of victory while Foothillers quarterback Anthony Lawrence threw a pair of scoring passes — one each to Ryan Green and Marcus Phillips.
Lawrence threw for 205 yards while Green grabbed nine passes for 120 yards.
Foothills Christian continues to build early momentum for its entry into the new Manzanita League after defeating Army-Navy Academy, 16-6, at Seau Field. Spencer George led the Knights with 201 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
High School Football Rankings
San Diego Sportswriters Association Poll
1. Eastlake (2-0)
2. Helix (1-1)
3. Oceanside (1-1)
4. Cathedral Catholic (2-0)
5. Poway (2-0)
6. Mt. Miguel (2-0)
7. Mira Mesa (2-0)
8. Torrey Pines (1-1)
9. La Costa Canyon (1-1)
10. St. Augustine (2-0)
11. San Pasqual (2-0)
12. Westview (2-0)
13. Point Loma (2-0)
14. Mt. Carmel (2-0)
15. Madison (2-0)
16. Mission Hills (0-2)
17. (tie) Santana (2-0)
17. (tie) Vista (0-2)