Prep football teams from Fontana have achieved lots of exciting victories during the past decade, and the Herald News is pleased to highlight some of those dramatic wins.
So last week, I began a countdown of my personal favorites of Fontana's 10 most exciting triumphs during the years 2010 to 2019. Having already completed Nos. 10 through 6, the following are Nos. 5 through 1, with links to video highlights on YouTube:
----- 5. KAISER 14, JOHN W. NORTH 7 -- CIF PLAYOFFS, 2012
Over the years, Kaiser's team made a name for itself by playing very tough defense, and this was especially true during the 2012 season. In their CIF first-round game against North, the Cats cashed in two big plays offensively -- a 45-yard touchdown run by Marquette Washington and a 40-yard option pass from Anthony Saenz to David Miller -- to take a 14-0 lead. Then they had to rely on a huge play by the defense. North drove to the Kaiser 5-yard line in the final minutes, threatening to tie the score, but Angel Delgado intercepted a pass to preserve the win. See video highlights at: https://youtu.be/xXhxtnB-cHw
Over the ensuing two weeks, the Cats' defense enabled them to pull off similarly low-scoring victories by margins of 14-10 and 13-7 in order to reach their ultimate destination -- the CIF championship game -- which resulted in an incredible, classic finish (keep reading below).
----- 4. JURUPA HILLS 23, CITRUS VALLEY 21 -- CIF PLAYOFFS, 2012
After enduring a 1-9 record in 2011, the Jurupa Hills team came back mightily and began its ascent into prominence in 2012, advancing into the CIF playoffs. In the second round, the Spartans faced league rival Citrus Valley, which had edged the locals during a game earlier in the season. But this time, Jurupa Hills surged to a 17-0 lead thanks to touchdowns by quarterback Damion Wright and running back Wayman Cooley. Then after the opponents cut the margin to 17-14, the Spartans added a touchdown on a short run by Wright. Citrus Valley made the Spartans nervous by cashing in a TD, thereby pulling within 23-21, and then recovering an onside kick in the closing minutes. But the Jurupa Hills defense came through with a stop to seal the victory in the school's first-ever home-field playoff game. See video highlights at: https://youtu.be/xIi0xDmLpWU
The following week, the Spartans advanced to the semifinals and lost a 34-33 heartbreaker to top-seeded Ontario Christian. But the next year, they made it all the way to the top. The Spartans captured the 2013 CIF championship by crushing St. Margaret's, 41-24. See video highlights at: https://youtu.be/XudaTXXUlj8
----- 3. KAISER 38, ARCADIA 35 -- CIF CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, 2018
In this wild, back-and-forth thriller at Arcadia, neither team could acquire a lead of more than seven points, keeping the fans on the edge of their seats the entire way. Touchdowns by Christian Hunter and Trey Tribble gave Kaiser a 14-7 advantage in the first half, but Arcadia went ahead by scores of 21-14, 28-21, and 35-28 before the Cats fought back each time, eventually forging a 35-35 tie on a 44-yard romp by Hunter in the fourth quarter. Then when Arcadia threatened to go back in front, Lucas Mandujano made a key interception, allowing the Cats to regain possession. From their own 22-yard line, they drove steadily downfield, reaching the Arcadia 11-yard line with 3 seconds left. Onto the field came sophomore Michael Mosqueda, who calmly kicked his first field goal of the season, a 28-yarder as time expired, providing Kaiser with a sensational 38-35 win and the fourth CIF championship in the school's glorious history. See video highlights at: https://youtu.be/77MCwUWO9Bo
----- 2. SUMMIT 24, HERITAGE 17 -- CIF CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, 2011
Summit High School opened in 2006 and struggled in football in the early years before gradually developing into a powerful force. The SkyHawks reached the CIF title game in 2010 but lost to Elsinore. However, the SkyHawks would not be denied the following year. They hit the road to face another Riverside County team, Heritage, in the climactic 2011 showdown, and they acquired leads of 10-0 and 17-7 during the game. However, Heritage rallied to tie the score at 17-17 on a field goal early in the fourth quarter. That's when Donte Deayon and Jamaal Williams -- two senior standouts who would later go on to play in the NFL -- made some big plays. Deayon took a lateral on the ensuing kickoff and returned the ball 39 yards to the Heritage 40-yard line. Two plays later, Williams dashed 27 yards to give Summit a first down at the 10. Quarterback Bernard Porter concluded the quick drive by going 5 yards on a keeper for the eventual decisive touchdown. Summit's 24-17 win was the school's first CIF crown in any sport. See video highlights, including interviews with Deayon and Williams, at: https://youtu.be/nVCgsXkqiG4
----- 1. KAISER 28, RANCHO VERDE 21 -- CIF CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, 2012
Rarely has a team won such a hugely important game thanks to a truly spectacular, last-minute play, but that was how the Cats managed to achieve this victory at the Rancho Verde field. The exciting duel featured the powerful running of Kaiser's Marquette Washington, who gained 269 yards, including a 60-yard run in the fourth quarter that put the Cats on top, 21-14. The opponents tied the score, 21-21, and with the clock winding down, Kaiser took over on its own 37-yard line after a Rancho Verde punt. On the first play, quarterback Ray Padilla handed off to Washington, who circled the right side and kept battling for tough yardage. But then he did something truly extraordinary — and gutsy. As he was being tackled, Washington lateraled the ball back to Padilla, who sped 46 yards to the end zone to complete an incredible 63-yard touchdown, giving Kaiser a 28-21 lead with 1:08 remaining. But there was still even more drama. Rancho Verde quickly drove deep into Kaiser territory, but a pass was intercepted by Weslee Lewis at the 1-yard line, and the Cats held on to obtain the No. 1 spot in my list of the top wins by Fontana teams in the past 10 years. See video highlights at: https://youtu.be/sFTJEJ7-z1U
Back in 2010, I had named Kaiser's football squad the unofficial "Team of the Decade" in Fontana for the years of 2000-2009. Here in 2020, partly because of this 2012 thriller, I think it's appropriate to designate Kaiser as the "Team of the Decade" once again.
(Next week, I will begin my countdown of Fontana's top 10 most exciting victories of the past decade for all sports other than football.)