No. 2 Lancers hold off No. 3 Barons, 28-21, in key divisional match-up

Hilltop defenders Trevor Fune (2) and Christian Leyva (27) track down Bonita Vista running back Darian Whaley on a running play. Photo by Phillip Brents

Last Friday’s non-league game between the host Hilltop Lancers and Bonita Vista Barons underscored a rivalry definitely in the making.

The Barons held off a furious Hilltop comeback to win last year’s game 29-23. This year, it was Hilltop that had to bend but not break in the game’s final seconds to stay a determined rally by the Barons.

Hilltop won last Friday’s key Division III gridiron battle, 28-21, to make amends for last year’s loss.

“We’ve had two good games the last two years,” Hilltop head coach Drew Westling said. “We found a way to overcome our mistakes.”

It appeared the third-ranked Barons, riding the momentum of a blowout win the previous week over host Patrick Henry, would run all over the second-ranked Lancers in the early going of last Friday’s contest.

Darian Whaley scored on a 32-yard screen pass to open scoring with 10:36 left in the first quarter.

Hilltop (5-1) answered that score with one of their own as Jeremiah Serrano plunged in from one yard out to tie the score 7-7.

Whaley then bolted loose down field on a 64-yard touchdown run after the visitors received the ball back.

The Barons led, 14-7, with 5:59 still to play in the first quarter and looked to be ready to score more points when Ron Vann Jr. intercepted a Lancer pass near midfield.

Bonita Vista’s Darian Whaley bursts through the Hilltop defense. Photo by Phillip Brents

But the Hilltop defense stiffened to force a turnover on downs following a quarterback sack.

The game’s momentum turned and it appeared the Lancers were suddenly off to the races.

Three completions by Hilltop signal-caller Javin Deanda quickly moved the ball to the Bonita Vista four-yard line, at which point Serrano scored his second touchdown of the game to tie the score 14-14.

Lai Zumstein caught a 51-yard touchdown strike with 5:14 to play in the second quarter to put the hosts ahead 21-14.

After a long touchdown scamper by Vann was called back due to a penalty, Hilltop recovered a Bonita Vista fumble at the 25-yard line.

With 35.8 seconds left in the first half, Adrik Harros lined up for a field goal try but pulled the ball wide left of the goalpost.

The teams exchanged scoring chances throughout the second half but miscues proved costly in trying to score points. Bonita Vista, in particular, proved to be its own worst enemy at times, especially with some ill-timed penalties.

The Barons fumbled at their own six-yard line. On third-and-goal, Ian Ramirez caught a looping pass from Deanda in the corner of the end zone to put the Lancers up by a pair of touchdowns at 28-14.

Turnabout was fair play, however, as Bonita Vista recovered a Hilltop fumble at the 31-yard line. But a pass on fourth down fell incomplete at the goal line.

BV head coach Sam Kirkland argued for a pass interference call but his plea fell on deaf ears.

Bonita Vista players celebrate in the end zone after narrowing the score to a touchdown during a fourth quarter rally in last Friday’s game at Hilltop. Photo by Phillip Brents

The Barons regained possession and finally managed to score as Mark Cornejo made a catch while tangling with a defender, regained his balance and strode the remaining distance into the end zone after being ruled not to have touched the ground on the initial tackle.

The opportunistic touchdown narrowed the score to 28-21 with 5:19 to play in the game.

The Barons once again forced a punt but started their final drive of the game at their own 12-yard line. Still, the visitors made the most of what they had by navigating down field to the Hilltop 21-yard line without any timeouts.

Bonita Vista converted a key fourth-and-two play with 29.9 seconds to play on a successful hook and ladder play.

Bonita Vista’s Ron Vann Jr. nearly came down with the potential game-tying touchdown late in last Friday’s game at Hilltop. Photos by Phillip Brents

Finally stationed within striking distance with 12.7 seconds left on the clock, the Barons attempted strikes into the end zone. Vann made a leaping catch at the back of the end zone but came down with his toe just out of bounds on the best chance in the series.

It was a close call, one that proved to be a game-changer when a final pass on a fourth down-and-two play fell incomplete.

A slow start put Hilltop in an early hole in the previous game against defending CIF champion Morse, which resulted in a 36-23 non-league win for the Tigers.

“We seem to start slow but I’m proud of how we managed to overcome a slow start (against Bonita Vista),” Westling said. “We made some big plays on defense when it counted. Bonita made an incredible effort to stay in the game. They fought all the way to the end.”

Deanda completed 20 of 25 passes for 222 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Zumstein had six catches for 78 yards and one touchdown while Ramirez had four catches for 47 yards and one touchdown.

Serrano rushed 23 times for 83 yards with two touchdowns. He finished the game with 121 all-purpose yards.

Hilltop generated 332 total offensive yards in the victory.

The Hilltop defense made key plays when it had to in order to hold back a furious rally by visiting Bonita Vista in last Friday’s game. Photo by Phillip Brents

Tony Candelaria led the Lancer defense with 11 tackles while Dominic Metzig made nine stops.

Hilltop recorded nine sacks — three by Terran Pineda, two each by Harros and Michael McShane and one each by Metzig and Issac Valdespino.

Trevor Fune and Pineda both had fumble recoveries.

Harros was perfect on all four extra-point conversion attempts.

Through six games, Serrano has rushed for 643 yards and 10 touchdowns while tacking on one receiving score for a team-leading 11 touchdowns. Deanda has passed for 1,608 yards with 14 scores with six interceptions.

The Lancer defense has collected 16 sacks and 11 fumble recoveries.

Hilltop remains at the No. 2 spot in the Division III rankings, trailing top-ranked Scripps Ranch (5-0), while Bonita Vista (3-3) drops to the No. 4 spot behind third-ranked San Diego (3-1).

Mater Dei Catholic (3-3) is ninth in the division and threatening to move up after nearly toppling defending CIF champion Lincoln last Friday. The host Crusaders took a seemingly commanding 22-7 lead on the Hornets before the visitors rallied to eke out a 31-28 win on a 28-yard field goal by Jorge Aguilar late in the game.

Hilltop, which improved to 3-0 against Division III opponents this season, will host Mountain Empire (1-4) this Friday before enjoying a bye week. The Red Hawks are coming off a 65-12 non-league loss to Coronado on Sept. 20.

The Lancers kick off Metro-South Bay League play at Chula Vista on Oct. 18 in the renewal of the teams’ Chula Vista Kiwanis Bowl rivalry game.

“We have one more non-league game, then a bye and then we start a new season,” Westling said.

The Barons start a new season this Friday by hosting Otay Ranch (2-4) in the teams’ Metro-Mesa League opener at Southwestern College.

The Mustangs, ranked ninth among Division II teams, enter the game riding a three-game losing streak having been out-scored 146-14 in consecutive losses to section behemoths St. Augustine (62-0), Steele Canyon (21-14) and Cathedral Catholic (63-0).

Otay Ranch quarterback Paco Puentes has passed for 689 yards with six touchdowns and 10 interceptions while Dylan Baca has three touchdown catches.

Mater Dei Catholic kicks off Metro-Mesa League play this Friday at Eastlake, which fell to its second consecutive setback — and 1-5 overall — in very unkind fashion last Friday.

The Titans, ranked 15th among 16 Division I teams, carried a 3-0 lead on a first quarter 25-yard field goal by Braiz Ramirez into the final minutes of the non-league contest against visiting El Camino before the Wildcats (3-2) rallied with two touchdowns to win 14-3.

Eastlake played without head coach John McFadden on the sideline due to an administrative decision. Former Southwest head coach Paco Silva served as interim head coach.

Aiden Calvert rushed for 112 yards and scored two touchdowns for Mater Dei Catholic in the loss to Lincoln.

The Eastlake defense performed up to task but the Titans offense could only muster a field goal in last Friday’s sudden impact 14-3 loss to visiting El Camino. Photos by Jon Bigornia

Friday Night Lights
Friday, Sept. 27

Hilltop 28, Bonita Vista 21
Castle Park 38, Crawford 0
Montgomery 27, Mar Vista 6
Southwest 27, Clairemont 24 (OT)
San Ysidro 33, Hoover 19
Morse 34, Chula Vista 7
El Camino 14, Eastlake 3
Lincoln 31, Mater Dei Catholic 28
Mount Miguel 42, Sweetwater 14
Oceanside 33, Olympian 3
Cathedral Catholic 63, Otay Ranch 0

Friday, Oct. 4
Metro-Mesa League
Mater Dei Catholic at Eastlake, 7 p.m.
Bonita Vista vs. Otay Ranch at Southwestern College, 7 p.m.

Mountain Empire at Hilltop, 7 p.m.
Vincent Memorial at Sweetwater, 7 p.m.
Holtville at Southwest, 7 p.m.
Sherman Indian at San Ysidro, 7 p.m.
Chula Vista at Monte Vista, 7 p.m.



Cougars pick up first win; Trojans, Aztecs keep marching on

Last Friday’s non-league football game between host San Ysidro High School and Hoover High School was delayed just over an hour because of a power outage

But when the lights came back on, the host Cougars were energized.

San Ysidro defeated the winless Cardinals, 33-19, to end the program’s 17-game varsity team losing streak.

“I’m really proud of our players, we had our best week of practice and we built off that energy,” SYHS head coach Keith Aguon said. “Hoover came in and battled hard, but we knew if we executed, it would be a good night for us.

“Our record doesn’t show it yet, but our defense has been having a solid year, with 25 total sacks now and 29 hurries. Our guys know how to bring the heat, and it showed this game.

“Our defense had nine sacks bringing us to 25 for the season, tops in the county.”

Sophomore quarterback Mathew Jaime completed three touchdown passes while also rushing for one score. Junior receiver Jesse Hernandez caught two touchdown passes and blocked a point-after-conversion attempt.

Jaime completed six of 12 passing attempts for 118 yards while Hernandez made three catches for 63 yards.

The Cougars (1-5) rushed for 198 yards in the game, led by Jaime with 71 yards on 14 carries and Josue Juarez with 60 yards on 12 carries.

Jaime led the victors with 198 total yards of offense, including a 31-yard field goal and two-point conversion play.

Makai Jackson scored one touchdown on a pass reception while D’Love Evans and Joshiel Alvarez both scored on two-point conversion plays.

The hosts led 20-7 at halftime.

It was a big night for the San Ysidro defense. Carlos Lopez led the team with 14 total tackles.

Overall, the Cougars recorded 11 tackles for a loss, including three by Jason Martinez.

Martinez led the group with three sacks while Lopez had two sacks.

Tony Morales had one interception while Chris Rodriguez had one fumble recovery.

San Ysidro will look for its second win of the season when it hosts Sherman Indian (1-3) this Friday.

Hoover fell to 0-5.


Castle Park 38, Crawford 0
The host Trojans, ranked second among Division V teams, ran their season opening winning streak to 6-0 with last Friday’s shutout victory.

“We finally put it together defensively,” CPHS coach Chris Livesay said. “This was an explosive team that makes big plays and we were able to contain them through all four quarters. If we continue to play like this, we are going to be scary. Erik Hernandez came through big for us.”

Hernandez rushed for 200 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns to buttress 293 total rushing yards by the team.

The Trojans recorded three rushing touchdowns, one passing touchdown and one touchdown on a 61-yard kickoff return by Ashuan Duncan-Claybon.

Chris Romero had two catches for 55 yards and one touchdown. Xavier Alvarado rushed for 13 yards and one score while making an interception on defense.

Quarterback Demarkus Lewis completed four of eight attempts for 58 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Ramon Cabal and Jose Castro led the hosts with eight tackles. The Trojan defense had four sacks and two fumble recoveries.

Nico Magana kicked a 49-yard field goal in the game, the longest in the section this season.

Magana is four for seven on field goal attempts.


Montgomery 27, Mar Vista 6
The host Aztecs, ranked third among Division V teams, recorded another impressive victory to improve to 5-1 on the season.

Montgomery quarterback Alexander Dixie rushed for 206 yards and two touchdowns while tacking on 96 passing yards.

Christian Venegas rushed 11 times for 95 yards and two touchdowns.

Dixie made an interception on defense while Venegas had a fumble recovery. Alex Flores also had an interception.

The first half ended scoreless before the Aztecs scored 13 points in the third quarter and put the game away with 14 points in the final quarter.


Southwest 27, Clairemont 24 (OT)
Ray Flores rushed for 199 yards and scored three touchdowns to celebrate his 17th birthday to lead the Raiders to their second consecutive win.

Southwest rolled up 453 yards in total offense, including 446 rushing yards, but needed an overtime touchdown courtesy of Flores to shade the Chiefs (3-2).

Sebastian Valadez rushed for a 91-yard touchdown to tie the game, 21-21, at the end of regulation. Enrique Gonzalez rushed for 94 yards and recorded two sacks on defense.


(Through Oct. 1)

Division I
1. Helix (4-1)
2. Cathedral Catholic (5-1)
3. Steele Canyon (5-0)
4. St. Augustine (4-1)
5. Carlsbad (4-1)
6. Lincoln (4-1)
7. Madison (3-2)
8. Oceanside (4-1)
9. Granite Hills (4-1)
10. Grossmont (4-1)
11. La Costa Canyon (2-3)
12. Torrey Pines (3-2)
13. Rancho Bernardo (3-2)
14. Mission Hills (3-2)
15. Eastlake (1-5)
16. San Marcos (2-3)

Division II
1. Bishop’s (5-0)
2. Santa Fe Christian (4-2)
3. Morse (4-1)
4. Christian (3-2)
5. San Pasqual (4-1)
6. El Camino (3-2)
7. Vista (3-2)
8. Poway (4-2)
9. Otay Ranch (2-4)
10. Valley Center (3-2)
11. Mira Mesa (1-4)
12. Point Loma (2-3)
13. Westview (1-4)
14. Monte Vista (1-4)
15. Olympian (1-5)
16. Ramona (0-5)

Division III
1. Scripps Ranch (5-0)
2. Hilltop (5-1)
3. San Diego (3-1)
4. Bonita Vista (3-3)
5. Valhalla (3-2)
6. Central Union (3-2)
7. La Jolla (2-3)
8. Brawley (3-2)
9. Mater Dei Catholic (3-3)
10. Kearny (2-3)
11. Imperial (2-3)
12. West Hills (3-2)
13. Southwest El Centro (2-3)
14. Mt. Carmel (2-4)
15. University City (1-4)
16. El Capitan (0-5)

Division IV
1. Santana (6-0)
2. La Jolla Country Day (4-1)
3. Montgomery (5-1)
4. Serra (3-2)
5. Tri-City Christian (4-1)
6. Mt. Miguel (3-2)
7. Patrick Henry (3-2)
8. Escondido (3-2)
9. Del Norte (2-3)
10. Coronado (3-2)
11. Classical Academy (3-2)
12. Orange Glen (2-3)
13. Calexico (2-3)
14. Sweetwater (1-4)
15. Mar Vista (1-5)
16. Fallbrook (0-6)
17. Chula Vista (0-6)

Division V
1. Vincent Memorial (5-1)
2. Castle Park (6-0)
3. Holtville (5-1)
4. El Cajon Valley (3-2)
5. Palo Verde Valley (3-2)
6. Mission Bay (3-2)
7. Clairemont (3-2)
8. Crawford (2-3)
9. Escondido Charter (2-3)
10. Southwest (2-3)
11. Mountain Empire (1-4)
12. Francis Parker (1-5)
13. Army-Navy Academy (2-3)
14. Calipatria (2-4)
15. Maranatha Christian (1-4)
16. San Ysidro (1-5)
17. Hoover (0-5)
18. O’Farrell Charter (0-6)