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San Juan Hills football will play for league title Friday, which would be the program’s first championship
By Steve Breazeale
The journey of the San Juan Hills football team has been one of steady growth and improvement. In 2011 the Stallions went a dismal 0-10 on the season. One year later the Stallions made a splash, winning seven games, including one Sea View League win. For a time the Stallions first, true, home game in their new stadium could be considered the landmark moment for the program. They were playing a winning brand of football and had finally arrived, literally, to play in front of their home crowd in the newly christened Badlands Stadium.
But that was last year. This year’s Stallions team is continuing that upward trend.
It’s safe to say that on Friday, San Juan Hills will play the most important game in the program’s history, when they host Dana Hills in a tilt that will decide the league championship.
When breaking down how the Stallions (8-1, 3-0 league) got to this point, head coach Aaron Flowers did not bring up his team’s convincing 29-3 win over reigning league champion Laguna Hills on October 11. Nor did he talk about their fourth quarter comeback victory against Dos Pueblos on October 4. Flowers, instead, talked about the team’s lone loss of the season, a 28-21 defeat at the hands of Fullerton on September 27.
“We didn’t prepare well enough. We weren’t ready to play against Fullerton,” Flowers said. “Thankfully they beat us. I think it was the wakeup call we needed … I’m actually glad that happened, because I don’t know if we would prepare the same way that we do now if we had won that game.”
For a team that has faced little adversity in 2013, the loss to Fullerton was an eye opener. It snapped a four-game win streak and league play was on the horizon.
“We all think the loss was a good thing because it gave us a taste of losing. We don’t want that again. It made us practice and work harder,” senior middle linebacker Brennan Walsh said.
The Stallions bounced back and rattled off four wins in a row, including three in league play, setting the stage for Friday night’s game.
Dana Hills features a high-powered offense that is capable of running the ball all night and has the quarterback and receivers necessary to cause problems in the secondary. Their defense, which is allowing an average of 16 points per league game, is physical.
Flowers said the game will likely be decided by which team wins the battle at the line of scrimmage. The Dolphins have a big, veteran offensive line and an explosive running back in junior Brian Scott who, despite missing three games, has rushed for 699 yards and six touchdowns, averaging just over eight yards per carry.
The Stallions counter with a front line that shut down the Laguna Hills and Aliso Niguel offenses in back-to-back weeks. The Wolverines managed 171 total yards of offense against the Stallions while Laguna Hills mustered just under 200 yards. The Hawks were limited to 91 rushing yards.
Flowers believes San Juan Hills’ 43-16 win over Capistrano Valley on November 1 was the most complete game they have played all season. It’s good timing for a team preparing to play a game of this magnitude.
On Friday the Dolphins will have the benefit of relying on championship experience. Last year Dana Hills could have won the league title outright but instead, due to a loss to Laguna Hills, they split the honor three ways. That is a foreign concept for the Stallions, who have never been in a position to play for a league title before. Come Friday, they will know what that feels like, win or lose.
“(Dana Hills) has been in this situation before. They’re used to these types of moments and we have to match their intensity,” Flowers said. “I was worried last week but I think we answered the bell against Capo Valley … I think it’s going to be a great high school football game.”