And then there was Blanco…there was a team filled with big names and then there was Blanco. There were athletes and speedsters all over the field and defensive monsters on the front line…and then there was Blanco.
Nick Bueno gets a lot of ink and justifiably so. He has rushed for over 1400 yards and passed for over 1400 yards this season to lead the Wildcats into the Mid-Valley Division Finals. He was brilliant again passing for 231 yards and a touchdown and running for two more.
Jay Henderson, Bueno’s favorite target, caught a touchdown pass and made big plays in the secondary. Anthony Craft picked off a pass and had a slick 34 yard reception down to the one yard line to set up a score. Ellis McCarthy was …well he was huge.
As Monrovia shook the San Dimas monkey off its back in the Semi Finals with a 47-14 rout Saturday night on the Saints home field all of the Monrovia stars shined. But the one that shined the brightest was the one that you usually don’t see in the headlines. After his performance Saturday night, everybody will remember the name Christian Blanco.
Blanco made headlines all right. During the game the Mid Valley staff was trying to think of Blanco headlines. “How about Blanco goes to Pound Town!” said Josh Lowden. “What’s the Spanish word for lightning?” I asked staffer Duane Barker trying to think of a play on words for White (Blanco) Lightning.
Josh Ouellette finally settled on “Blanco Blasts Saints” but when you score four touchdowns you’ll get your headline.
Sure Bueno scored a couple but Blanco got four. The senior pounded, slammed, and yes even blasted is way though the San Dimas defense. He scored on a seven yard in the second quarter to give the Wildcats an eight point halftime lead. He ran over a couple of Saints again early in the third on a six yard romp to extend the Monrovia advantage.
You game plan for Bueno. You scheme for Craft and Henderson. You put two or three guys on McCarthy. But Blanco flies under the radar. At 5’9” and 210 pounds he’s built like a fire hydrant but runs like a Mac Truck.
While Blanco was doing his damage Saturday night, John Riggins’ name came up on the sidelines. Can you compare Blanco to Riggins? No not really. This is on a much lesser scale. But it is interesting that onlookers thought of Riggins while watching Blanco.
For good measure, Blanco powered in for two more scores in the fourth quarter to provide the exclamation point. His final numbers- 21 carries for 151 yards and 4 touchdowns and lot of sore San Dimas defenders. Not bad for guy that was considered an after thought.
You can’t say enough about Sergio Gradilla’s gutsy call Friday night that led to Whittier Christian’s two point conversion and a 43-42 win over Village Christian.
“I didn’t make the call because I didn’t think our defense could stop them. I made it because I didn’t they could stop us,” Gradilla told his team after the game.
Whatever it was, it was huge.
I still haven’t decided if the Heralds-Crusaders clash was the greatest game I’ve ever covered. I remember a San Dimas-Northview battle a couple of years ago that was off the charts. But considering the stakes, and Gradilla’s call, I’m leaning towards it.
Wildcat warning: Jeff Worthy is a hundred percent healthy and playing the best football of the season.
Monrovia principal Darvin Jackson was adamant about hosting the Finals while I was talking to him on the sidelines Friday night.
“We’ll make it happen. I’ve already talked to CIF. We’ll bring in additional stands for the field and we’re talking to the businesses around the school to accomodate the parking,” he said.
Apparently it didn’t work out. CIF opted for Arcadia High. I thought it was Monrovia’s home game.
Bonita got the home game in the Southeast Final. The game is at Walnut High. What’s wrong with this picture?
Tim can be reached at email@example.com.