Lancers hold off Spartans, 35-29, to win 18th Chula Vista Kiwanis Bowl


Hilltop players celebrate last Friday's Chula Vista Kiwanis Bowl victory. Photo by Phillip Brents

There has been a fair share of blowouts over the 18-year history of the Chula Vista Kiwanis Bowl. But last Friday’s rivalry contest between the Hilltop and Chula Vista football teams was not one of them.

The visiting Lancers had to hold on for dear life to score a 35-29 victory against the winless Spartans in the teams’ Metro-South Bay League opener.

“It was a very exciting game,” Hilltop head coach Drew Westling recounted. “Credit to Chula Vista for a great game plan and outstanding performances from their quarterback and wide receivers.”

As is the case in rivalry games, the records of the respective teams often do not matter, as was the case in last Friday’s west side encounter.

Hilltop entered the game with a 6-1 record and No. 3 ranking among the section’s Division III teams; Chula Vista was 0-7 and sitting at the bottom of the Division IV rankings.

The Lancers, who possess a potent passing game, leaned on their rushing game to register the win.

Hilltop accumulated 495 total offensive yards — 376 on the ground and 119 through the air.

The Lancers plowed into the end zone for five rushing scores — three by quarterback Javin Deanda and two by senior running back Jeremiah Serrano.

Hilltop’s Jeremiah Serrano proved to be a difficult target to take down in last Friday’s Chula Vista Kiwanis Bowl game at Chula Vista High School after rushing for 310 yards and scoring two touchdowns. Photo by Phillip Brents

Serrano, who collected the team’s offensive MVP award, rushed for 310 yards on 40 carries to push his season yardage total to 1,204 with 16 touchdowns.

Deanda carried the ball 15 times for 52 yards while completing 10 of 17 passes for 119 yards with one interception. He’s passed for 1,796 yards with 15 touchdowns in eight games.

Junior Ian Ramirez led the Lancer receiver corps with two catches for 41 yards.

Chula Vista junior quarterback Omar Perez completed 20 of 47 passing attempts for 261 yards with four touchdowns. He also rushed seven times for 29 yards.

Chula Vista’s Dylan Sallee earned his team’s offensive MVp award with three touchdowns. Photo by Phillip Brents

CV senior receiver Dylan Sallee caught seven passes for 96 yards and scored three touchdowns while senior Alex Guzman had 11 catches for 152 yards and one TD.

The Spartans’ rushing game was minimal — 42 yards on 13 attempts — against a stout Hilltop defense that recorded seven sacks and two fumble recoveries.

Defensively for the Lancers, senior Tony Candelaria and Andrik Harros both recovered fumbles while Michael McShane recorded three sacks. Junior Rudy Lucero had two sacks while seniors Gage Scruggs and Michael Dye both had one sack.

Christian Leyva had three passes successfully defended.

Senior Daniel Fonseca led the Spartan defense with 10 tackles while sophomore Saul Garcia recorded two tackles for a loss.

Senior Andrew Marquez blocked a field goal attempt.

Hilltop’s Colton Tull lifts the Kiwanis Bowl perpetual championship trophy into full view. Photo by Phillip Brents

Hilltop scored first on an 11-yard touchdown run by Serrano to take a 7-0 lead. However, sophomore Daniel Montes connected on a 20-yard field goal and Sallee scored the first of his three TDs on the night to boost the hosts, buoyed by a large supportive homecoming crowd, to a surprising 10-7 lead.

Serrano scored his second touchdown of the night and Deanda later scored on a one-yard run to push the Lancers in front 21-10. Guzman scored with 11 seconds left in the first half to make the score 21-16.

The Spartans remained within striking distance the rest of the game.

Deanda scored on a two-yard run to increase Hilltop’s lead to 28-16 but Salle caught his second touchdown of the night to narrow the score to 28-23.

Deanda scored his third touchdown of the game on a four-yard run late in the third quarter. But Sallee countered with a 17-yard pass grab for his third touchdown of the game to bring his team back to within six points on the scoreboard.

The Spartans had one last chance to score but the series ended on an incomplete pass on fourth down. The Lancers knelt three times in victory formation to end the game.

The win was the fifth consecutive for Hilltop in the Kiwanis Bowl.

Hilltop Kiwanis Bowl MVPs, from left, Andrik Harros and Jeremiah Serrano. Photo by Phillip Brents

“I didn’t expect to get the award — my offensive line helped me through this,” Serrano said. “It feels amazing because we’ve won it the last five years.”

“I’ve been on the team since I was a sophomore but I want to make the most of my senior year,” explained Harros, who earned the defensive MVP award for his team. “We practice very hard. It’s always a rivalry against Chula Vista. To win this game is a great feeling.”

Despite the string of Hilltop wins, the Spartans still lead the series 10-8.

David McClurg, Kiwanis Club of Chula Vista, presents $1,500 check to HIilltop head coach Drew Westling. Photo by Phillip Brents

The Kiwanis Club of Chula Vista, the game’s presenting sponsor, doles out cash donations for each team.

The donation pot has increased over the years. The winning team now receives a $1,500 donation from the service club while the losing team receives $1,000.

Awards were presented to both teams for outstanding offensive and defensive players.

Chula Vista’s award-winners included Sallee (offense) and junior Karlos Jimenez (defense).

Lost in the team’s winless record, Perez has quietly passed for 1,471 yards with 12 touchdowns while Guzman (48 catches, 805 yards) and Sallee (40 catches, 631 yards) have both caught seven scoring passes. Sallee also has two interceptions and one blocked field goal on defense.

Chula Vista quarterback Omar Perez breaks through the Hilltop line. Photo by Phillip Brents

It should be made clear: The Spartans did not play like an 0-8 team last Friday.

“I was very proud of our effort,” Chula Vista head coach Howard Bannister III said. “Omar Perez, Alex Guzman and Dylan Sallee had an amazing game. I want to thank all of the alumni who came out to support us even though we’ve had a rough season. Friday wasn’t the result we desired, but I know our young men left it all on the field.”

Hilltop (7-1) will host Sweetwater this Friday in its own homecoming game and close regular season play with a game Nov. 1 at Mar Vista.

Mar Vista defeated Sweetwater, 36-22, in the Red Devils’ homecoming game last Friday at Southwestern College to improve to 1-0 in league, 3-5 overall.

Sweetwater is 1-7 overall, 0-1 in league play.

Chula Vista plays at Mar Vista this Friday before hosting Sweetwater in the renewal of the Legacy of Pride rivalry game on Nov. 1.

The section playoffs kick off Nov. 8 for those teams fortunate to qualify.

Hilltop has moved up to the No. 2 ranking among Division III teams while Mar Vista is ranked 12th, Chula Vista is ranked 14th and Sweetwater is ranked 16th out of 17 teams.

Karlos Jimenez received Chula Vista’s defensive MVp award. Photo by Phillip Brents
The Kiwanis Bowl championship trophy returns to Hilltop High School for a fifth consecutive year. Photo by Phillip Brents

Sink or swim
Mar Vista fought back from 13-7 and 22-21 deficits to spoil Sweetwater’s homecoming game at DeVore Stadium in a battle for the final Division IV playoff berth.

“Friday’s game was a big win for us to start South Bay League play on the right foot,” Mar Vista head coach Tyler Arciaga said. “We have three different starting linemen out and have had to shuffle guys around, but I am proud of the way that our guys adapted and we were able to throw the ball.

“Senior quarterback Mike Maeva stepped up big (24-of-29, 380 yards, five touchdowns) and senior wide receiver Jo’Vahn Young had three touchdowns and 160 yards, while sophomore Dante Pacheco had four catches for 140 yards and one touchdown.

“Our defense did a nice job of bending but not breaking and only giving up one touchdown in the second half. We hope that this game can give us some momentum into the Chula Vista game. They have had a tough schedule and played very competitive games. Coach (Howard) Bannister has always had his teams well prepared for us, so I foresee a very competitive game this Friday.”

The win was the second consecutive for the Mariners, who recorded seven sacks in the game against the Red Devils.

Young keyed Mar Vista with 12 tackles while Paul Fieweger had two sacks

Sweetwater garnered 281 rushing yards in the loss, including 184 yards and two touchdowns from Nico Salazar.

Nathan Lopez had 15 tackles, including four for a loss, and forced two fumbles to lead the SuHI defense while teammate Cesar Salazar had three sacks and eight tackles.

Mater Dei Catholic 30, Otay Ranch 21
The host Crusaders bolted out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter but needed a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to overcome a late 21-17 Otay Ranch lead to record the Metro-Mesa League victory.

Darren Barkins scored on a one-yard run to put the hosts ahead, 23-21, and Aiden Calvert added an insurance score on a nine-yard run.

Barkins caught a 69-yard scoring pass from QB Trevor Appelman while Jessie Campbell scored on a 30-yard halfback pass from teammate Raymond Romero in the first quarter uprising.

Appelman passed for 185 yards while Calvert rushed for 91 yards.

Ethan Knight rushed 27 times for 149 yards and scored two touchdowns to lead Otay Ranch while quarterback Paco Puentes passed for 114 yards with a 15-yard touchdown to Dylan Baca.

The Eastlake Titans are suddenly 3-0 in Metro-Mesa League play in defense of their league title. Photo by Jon Bigornia

Eagles bid for upset but Titans have final answer in 12-7 Metro-Mesa League win

The Eastlake High School football team appeared to find its offense in a 20-0 win over Bonita Vista in the teams’ Metro-Mesa League opener Oct. 11 at Southwestern College.

The Titans had to scramble to score enough points in last Friday’s homecoming game to come out on top over the visiting Olympian Eagles by a score of 12-7.

In doing so, Eastlake remains undefeated in league play and controls its own destiny entering Friday’s final regular season game at Otay Ranch.

Another win puts the Titans in sole possession of this year’s league banner.

A loss would complicate things somewhat but not preclude some type of championship.

Last Friday’s homecoming crowd had to wait until the final quarter to celebrate its newly crowned gridiron kings.

Braiz Ramirez booted Eastlake to a 3-0 lead on a 26-yard field goal in the second quarter and the Titans nursed that lead into the third quarter until Anthony Gilpin Jr. ripped off an 86-yard touchdown catch to allow the one-win Eagles to take a 7-3 lead.

Olympian held that lead while bidding for one of the season’s more intriguing upsets until midway in the fourth quarter when the hosts pounced on a fumble and the Eastlake offense delivered in a critical must-win mode on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Cole McFarlane to Justin Blondin to remain on top of — and in control of — the league lead.

The Eastlake defense came up huge throughout the game. Photos by Jon Bigornia

And again … and again …

The Titan defense delivered the final blow by recording a two-point safety in the dying moments of the game to secure the victory.

Eastlake (3-0 in league, 4-5 overall) can either win outright possession of the league title or a share of it.

Otay Ranch (3-5 overall) enters Friday’s game with a 1-1 league record following last Friday’s 30-21 loss at Mater Dei Catholic.

Mater Dei Catholic (4-5 overall) has a 2-1 league record and closes out regular season play by hosting Bonita Vista (0-2 in league, 3-5 overall) on Nov. 1.

Bonita Vista plays at Olympian (0-2 in league, 1-7 overall) this Friday in a bid to solidify its playoff positioning with a win.

Otay Ranch hosts Olympian in the teams’ Battle of the O’s rivalry game on Nov. 1. Both Mater Dei Catholic and Otay Ranch could force a co- or even tri-championship with wins in their final regular season games.

Eastlake is ranked 13th among Division I schools while Otay Ranch and Olympian are ranked eighth and 13th, respectively, among Division II schools. Mater Dei Catholic and Bonita Vista are ranked seventh and 10th, respectively, among Division III schools.

Photo Gallery by Jon Bigornia


Trojans, Aztecs win by large margins, remain on Metro-Pacific League collision course

The Castle Park Trojans and Montgomery Aztecs appear on a collision course to determine this year’s Metro-Pacific League football champion after both teams won their Metro-Pacific League openers last Friday by commanding shutout margins.

Castle Park defeated host Southwest, 38-0, while Montgomery blanked host San Ysidro by a score of 48-0.

Castle Park is 8-0 overall while Montgomery is 7-1. Another win by both teams will pit them in the league championship game Nov. 1 at Montgomery High School.

Castle Park hosts San Ysidro this Friday while Montgomery hosts Southwest.

Both games kick off at 7 p.m.

The Trojans, who remain second in the San Diego Section Division V rankings, are revisiting territory once reserved for its greatest teams. The 1996 Castle Park team finished 13-0 with a state championship. Head coach Chris Livesay said research through shows that there have been several 10-win seasons for the Trojans in the past, but no other team has posted a 10-0 regular season except for the 1996 team.

Both the 1969 and 1974 teams went 9-0 in regular season play. The 1969 team finished 10-1 while the 1974 team finished 11-1, with the lone loss for both teams coming in the semifinal round of the CIF playoffs.

But Livesay and his troops obviously do not want to get ahead of themselves. There are still two more games left in regular season play.

As for last Friday’s win against Southwest, the visiting Trojans built a 24-0 halftime lead while tacking on 14 second-half points.

Castle Park scored four rushing touchdowns and another on defense.

Sophomore Ashuan Duncan rushed 19 times for 83 yards and scored two touchdowns while junior Ramon Cabal gained 63 yards on nine carries and scored one touchdown. Junior Cristian Sanchez rushed five times for 42 yards and scored one touchdown.

The Trojans rushed for 273 yards while passing for 35 yards.

Cabal led the team’s defense with 11 tackles, including one sack, while junior Xavier Alvarado had one interception for 27 yards.

Junior Antonio Gomez scored on a fumble recovery in the end zone while senior Nicolas Magana kicked a 33-yard field goal.

Livesay said his team wanted to concentrate on fine-tuning some things it could have done better in the previous week’s cliffhanging 26-19 non-league win over visiting El Cajon Valley.

“We were looking to bounce back after an El Cajon Valley win that left a bad taste in our mouths,” Livesay said. “We didn’t feel we played well enough and we have continued to have problems on the offensive line and in the secondary. We wanted to shore some of those things up and I think we did that for the most part against Southwest.

“We need to continue to improve on the offensive line in the next couple weeks if we want to have a shot at this thing.”

Aztec warriors
Montgomery enters Friday’s game ranked third among the section’s Division IV teams and would like nothing better than to secure a quarterfinal round bye for the upcoming playoffs.

The Aztecs got right to business in building a 42-0 halftime lead on the host Cougars. Montgomery scored seven touchdowns in the game — four by junior Jaheem Williams (three rushing, one on a punt return).

Williams rushed six times for 103 yards. He scored on a 77-yard punt return to stake the visitors to a 14-0 lead. He later scored on a 38-yard run.

Xavier Brown (three carries, 29 yards) scored one rushing touchdown while Isiah King caught an 11-yard scoring pass from quarterback Alexander Dixie, who scored on a 66-yard interception return on defense to pace the Aztecs to a 21-0 lead.

The Montgomery defense recorded six sacks, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and 11 tackles for a loss in the game.

Junior Daniel Dunkle led the winners with eight tackles.

Brown and Dunkle each shared 1.5 sacks.

King, Dixie and Agelu Meredith each had picks. Meredith recorded a 26-yard return.

Dunkle and senior Adrian Briseno both had fumble recoveries.

San Ysidro actually out-gained Montgomery 219-204 in total offensive yards. Sophomore quarterback Matthew Jaime totaled 139 yards on 75 passing yards and 64 rushing yards.

Junior Brett Laing rushed 11 times for 56 yards for the Cougars in the loss.

The San Ysidro defense had one sack (Jason Martinez) and one fumble recovery (Daniel Plasencia).

The Cougars are currently 14th in the Division V rankings — three spots below Southwest, which is ranked 11th.

The top 12-ranked teams make the playoffs.



Photo Gallery by Phillip Brents
Chula Vista Kiwanis Bowl