Chula Vista Spartans head coach Howard Bannister III and Castle Park Trojans head coach Paco Silva made a mutual observation after the teams met in a seven-on-seven summer scrimmage: Don’t be surprised, they said, if their meeting in the last regular season game of the fall season would be a showdown for the Metro-Pacific League championship.
Sure enough, Friday’s game will be just that.
Chula Vista enters the high-profile encounter with a spotless 3-0 league record after defeating the host Southwest Raiders, 39-0, last Friday. Should the Spartans defeat the visiting Trojans on Friday, they’re outright league champions.
There is a hitch, however, if Castle Park wins.
The Trojans appeared in the driver’s seat, along with the Spartans, after two weeks with 2-0 league records. But Mar Vista threw the proverbial monkey wrench into the equation with a last-minute 27-21 win at Castle Park last Friday to draw both the Trojans and Mariners into a tie with 2-1 league records.
Should Castle Park manage to hand Chula Vista a setback, the Trojans and Spartans would both have 3-1 league records. Moreover, if Mar Vista defeats host San Ysidro on Friday, the Mariners would also have a 3-1 league record.
Such a scenario would create a tri-championship. Should Mar Vista lose, it would be a co-championship between Castle Park and Chula Vista.
The Spartans (5-4 overall) can remove all doubt with another timely win, which would hand them the league championship and automatic entry into the upcoming San Diego Section playoffs.
Kick-off is 6:30 p.m.
“I was proud of how our players didn’t lose a step after a bye week,” Bannister said. “We put our foot right back on the gas pedal. This week’s game is doubly important:
“No. 1: we need to win it to secure our place in the playoffs and No. 2 we have an opportunity to win a banner outright, which hasn’t been accomplished at CVH since 2003 — 2006 was a tri champ banner. So, this is a must-win game.”
The Trojans (3-5 overall) obviously have just as much at stake in terms of winning at least a share of this year’s Metro-Pacific League championship banner.
“It’s going to be a good game — not much to say,” Silva said. “We’re going to practice hard like we always do things. It didn’t go our way Friday night, but we have to face adversity. We’re going to come out playing tough and, if we do come out victorious and we’re champs, I guess we all deserve a little piece of that banner and get ready to represent the South Bay in the playoffs I think we’ll end up 10th, 11th or 12th, so we might end up facing Mar Vista again in the first round.”
That would be something, indeed.
Making the grade
The Spartans scored five rushing touchdowns against the Raiders (0-4 in league, 4-6 overall), including two by junior Paul Alvarez (four carries, 60 yards) and one each by junior Gerardo Cadillo (nine carries, 84 yards), Gio Barrios (four carries, 53 yards) and sophomore Izaac Baca (two carries, 16 yards).
Baca completed nine of 11 passes on the night for126 yards and one touchdown. Senior Arbahl Saucedo had five catches for 73 yards and one TD.
Chula Vista rolled up 334 yards in total offense in recording its fifth consecutive victory to more over the 0.500 mark at 5-4.
Senior Octavio Ramirez paced the Spartan defense with 11 tackles, including two for losses.
Chula Vista had four sacks in the game — one each by Ramirez, senior Demetrios Ferreira, senior Nick Gillespie and junior Franky Olmedo.
Castle Park led, 14-6, after the first quarter and built a 21-12 halftime lead. But the Mariners (4-5 overall) did all the scoring in the second half, drawing to within 21-19 by the end of the third quarter.
Mar Vista added a touchdown in the fourth quarter and a two-point conversion to seal the upstart victory.
Senior Aleks Wojcik rescued the Mariners with three touchdowns en route to passing for 182 yards in the game.
Junior Erik Garcia (seven catches, 120 yards) snared two touchdowns while junior Porter Fielding (one catch, 15 yards) caught the other.
Senior Demarco Wright (19 carries, 121 yards) scored one rushing touchdown.
Wojcik supplied the two-point conversion on a running play.
The Mariners, facing a must-win situation following a 50-15 loss at Chula Vista on Oct. 7, definitely rose to the occasion to make it a memorable evening.
Senior Travon Smith had a 25-yard kick-off return while senior Luis Cisneros unleashed a 50-yard punt.
The Mar Vista defense recorded four sacks — one each by juniors Keegan Flohr and Jasaiah Hyneman and seniors Adrian Martinez and Nathan Pulido.
Otherwise, the game was essentially a standoff. The Mariners piled up 350 yards in total offense while the Trojans compiled 329 yards, including 266 rushing yards.
Castle Park scored three rushing touchdowns — two by senior Jeremiah Simler (two carries, 36 yards) and one by senior Jalen Hopkins (13 carries, 88 yards).
Sophomore Ladell Hampton generated the bulk of yardage on the ground for the hosts with 12 carries for 116 yards.
Sophomore quarterback Dylan Villarreal completed four of eight passing attempts for 63 yards. Senior Sergio Cobos had three catches for 52 yards.
Senior Amado Aguilar keyed the CP defense with nine tackles, including eight unassisted stops, and one caused fumble.
Simler left his mark on the field with four tackles and a 90-yard kick-off return.
San Ysidro is out of contention for the league banner at 1-2 in league, 3-6 overall, but faces a must-win game to make the Division V playoff cut.
Thursday’s Metro-Mesa League championship game match-up pits the defending champion Mater Dei Catholic Crusaders and resurgent Eastlake Titans, two teams in the South Bay with championship pedigrees.
The Crusaders ran the table last season en route to a 13-0 record, league championship, section championship and state title. Mater Dei Catholic embarked on this season bidding to repeat as league champions, CIF champions and state champions, though an exceedingly tough schedule will not allow for another unbeaten season.
The same can be said about the Titans, who got off to an uncharacteristic 0-6 start due to schedule strength and untimely injuries.
Both teams are hot now.
The Crusaders (5-4) had not allowed any points in their last five games, dealing visiting Bonita Vista (0-2 in league, 2-7 overall) a crushing 55-0 defeat last Friday to run their shutout streak to 232-0. The Titans (3-6) tuned up for Thursday’s regular season finale with a 35-7 victory at neighborhood rival Otay Ranch (0-2 in league, 3-5 overall).
The Mater Dei Catholic defense held Bonita Vista to 87 total yards, including just 24 passing yards.
Senior Dominic Nankil passed for 266 yards and four touchdowns while senior Talon Beltran scored on an 18-yard fumble return.
Eastlake scored five touchdowns against the Mustangs — three rushing (juniors Fabian Gerbella, Luke Schwenke and sophomore Nate Rodriguez), one receiving (Chris Gerbella) and one on 22-yard interception return (senior Sebastian Osorio).
Sophomore William Schmitz led the Titans with 129 rushing yards, including one burst for 67 yards, while Fabian Gerbella paced the defense with 11 tackles. Overall, Eastlake logged four sacks and two interceptions.
Since both the Titans and Crusaders are automatically in the Division I playoffs, Thursday’s game will serve as seeding positioning.
SAN DIEGO SECTION FOOTBALL POWER RANKINGS
(Through Oct. 22)
Division I: 1. Carlsbad (8-1), 2. Madison (9-0), 3. Mission Hills (6-3), 4. Lincoln (8-1), 5. Poway (9-0), 6. Cathedral Catholic (4-5), 7. Helix (7-2), 8. El Camino (6-3), 9. Mater Dei Catholic (5-4), 10. La Costa Canyon (5-4), 11. Torrey Pines (3-6), 12. St. Augustine (3-7), 13. Eastlake (3-6), 14. Rancho Bernardo (5-4), 15. Scripps Ranch (2-7), 16. Steele Canyon (1-8)
Division II: 1 (tie) Granite Hills (7-2), Christian (5-4), 3. Central Union (5-3), 4. Mira Mesa (6-3), 5. Ramona (5-4), 6. La Jolla (5-4), 7. Brawley (7-2), 8. San Marcos (4-5), 9. Valley Center (4-5), 10. Mt. Carmel (5-4), 11. Santa Fe Christian (8-1), 12. Otay Ranch (3-5), 13. Grossmont (0-9), 14. Oceanside (0-9), 15. San Diego (4-5), 16. Vista (0-7)
Division III: 1. University City (7-2), 2. Del Norte (5-3), 3. Point Loma (7-2), 4, Imperial (6-3), 5. Bishop’s (6-2), 6. Rancho Buena Vista (5-4), 7. San Pasqual (6-3), 8. El Capitan (7-2), 9. Morse (5-4), 10. Santana (4-5), 11. West Hills (6-3), 12. Patrick Henry (2-6), 13. Escondido (3-6), 14. Bonita Vista (2-7), 15. Canyon Hills (1-6), 16. Olympian (3-6), 17. Orange Glen (0-4)
Division IV: 1. Fallbrook (6-3), 2. La Jolla Country Day (6-3), 3. Mission Bay (6-3), 4. Montgomery (7-2), 5. Palo Verde Valley (9-1), 6. Calexico (6-3), 7. Francis Parker (4-5), 8. Coronado (6-3), 9. Hilltop (5-4), 10. Westview (1-7), 11. Mt. Miguel (4-6), 12. Chula Vista (5-4), 13. Sweetwater (3-6), 14, Kearny (4-5), 15. Holtville (3-6), 16. Valhalla (0-9), 17. Monte Vista (1-8)
Division V: 1. Crawford (8-1), 2. Escondido Charter (7-2), 3. Army-Navy Academy (8-1), 4. El Cajon Valley (4-5), 5. Classical Academy (7-2), 6. Vincent Memorial (6-2), 7. Mar Vista (4-5), 8. Castle Park (3-5), 9. Southwest El Centro (1-8), 10. Mountain Empire (2-7), 11. Hoover (4-5), 12. San Ysidro (3-6), 13. Clairemont (3-6), 14. Maranatha Christian (4-5), 15. O’Farrell Charter (0-9), 16. Southwest San Diego (4-6), 17. Tri-City Christian (1-8), 18. Calipatria (0-8)
- Carlsbad (8-1), 2. Lincoln (8-1), 3. Madison (9-0), 4. Poway (9-0), 5. Cathedral Catholic (4-5), 6. Helix (7-2), 7. Mission Hills (6-3), 8. El Camino (6-3), 9. Mater Dei Catholic (5-4), 10. La Costa Canyon (5-4), 11. Torrey Pines (3-6), 12. St. Augustine (3-6), 13. Eastlake (3-6), 14. Rancho Bernardo (5-4), 15. Steele Canyon (1-8), 16. Scripps Ranch (2-7)
- Granite Hills (7-2), 2. Mira Mesa (6-3), 3. Central Union (5-3), 4. Ramona (5-4), 5. San Marcos (4-5), 6. Christian (5-4), 7. Brawley (7-2), 8. Santa Fe Christian (8-1), 9. Mt. Carmel (5-4), 10. Valley Center (4-5), 11. La Jolla (5-4), 12. Oceanside (0-9), 13. Otay Ranch (3-5), 14. Grossmont (0-9), 15. San Diego (4-5), 16. Vista (0-9)
- Point Loma (7-20, 2. University City (7-2), 3. Del Norte (6-3), 4. San Pasqual (6-3), 5. Bishop’s (7-2), 6. Imperial (6-3), 7. Rancho Buena Vista (5-4), 8. Morse (5-4), 9. El Capitan (7-20, 10. West Hills (6-3), 11. Patrick Henry (2-6), 12. Santana (4-5), 13. Escondido (3-6), 14. Olympian (3-6), 15. Canyon Hills (1-6), 16. Bonita Vista (2-7), 17. Orange Glen (0-9)
- Fallbrook (6-3), 2. Palo Verde Valley (9-1), 3. Montgomery (7-2), 4, Mission Bay (6-3), 5. La Jolla Country Day (5-3), 6. Calexico (6-3), 7. Coronado (6-3), 8. Mt. Miguel (4-6), 9. Hilltop (5-4), 10. Chula Vista (5-4), 11. Francis Parker (4-5), 12. Westview (1-8), 13. Sweetwater (3-6), 14, Holtville (3-6), 15. Kearny (4-5), 16. Valhalla (0-9), 17. Monte Vista (1-8)
- Escondido Charter (7-2), 2. Crawford (8-1), 3. Vincent Memorial (6-2), 4. Classical Academy (7-2), 5. El Cajon Valley (4-5), 6. Army-Navy Academy (8-1), 7. Mar Vista (4-5), 8. Castle Park (3-5), 9. Hoover (4-5), 10. San Ysidro (3-6), 11. Southwest El Centro (1-8), 12. Mountain Empire (2-6), 13. Clairemont (3-6), 14. Southwest San Diego (4-6), 15. Maranatha Christian (4-5), 16. Tri-City Christian (1-8), 17. O’Farrell Charter (0-9)
Unbeaten Lancers, Aztecs to vie in league title contest
The Hilltop Lancers haven’t had a game this important in a while and the Montgomery Aztecs want to snatch it away from them when the teams match up Friday at Robert Dodds Stadium in this year’s Metro-South Bay League championship game.
Both teams enter the highlight contest on a roll. The Lancers have won their last two games to sport a 2-0 league record while the Aztecs have won two in a row to also enter the game unbeaten in two league contests.
The winner will be doubly rewarded with a league championship banner and a berth in the Division IV playoffs.
Friday’s winner-take-all contest was set in motion as Hilltop defeated host Olympian, 21-14, last Friday and Montgomery shut out visiting Sweetwater, 20-0.
“It was a great win to get us in a position to play for the league championship against Montgomery,” Hilltop coach Bryan Wagner said. “We played well enough to win on Friday, but we have to fix a few things and make sure we protect the ball.
“This week’s game is pivotal for us — league championship, Homecoming and a potential home playoff game. Montgomery will be a tough contest for us, but we will be prepared both mentally and physically. It will come down to us taking care of and controlling the ball.”
Senior Tyeron Washington rushed 16 times for 89 yards and scored two touchdowns while senior quarterback Jorge Garcia passed for 98 yards and a touchdown to junior Isaac Meza (three catches, 66 yards).
Garcia added 61 rushing yards for a team-high 159 total yards.
The Lancer defense weathered 270 passing yards from sophomore Kristian Noriega (162 yards) and senior Matthew Pentland (108 yards). Pentland scored one passing and one rushing touchdown for the Eagles,
Make no mistake, both the Lancers and Aztecs have much at stake in Friday’s game.
Montgomery enters the game ranked fourth in the division while Hilltop is ranked ninth.
The Aztecs could conceivably sew up a home playoff game with a victory while the Lancers need a win to secure a playoff berth.
Both Olympian and Sweetwater are out of championship contention with 0-2 (league)and 3-6 (overall) records.
Outstanding players for the Aztecs on offense in the win over the Red Devils included senior running back Isaac Cervantes with 17 carries for 82 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Cervantes went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season with 1,033 yards on 163 carries and five touchdowns. He’s averaging 114.8 yards per game.
Senior Ignacio Mondragon rushed four times for 11 yards and one touchdown while passing for 56 yards.
Defensive standouts included senior middle linebacker Gideon Baraka with eight tackles, including two tackles for losses and one sack, and junior Arath Leyva, sophomore Royal Impala, senior Nathan Ong, senior Joe Davidson and sophomore Raul Moreno — each with one sack.
Sweetwater was limited to 76 yards in offense (all rushing yards).