You can use all the cliches. It was a game that had a little bit of everything. It’s a shame somebody had to lose. Both teams left everything on the field. They showed a lot of heart. It was what high school football is all about. But in the case of the Smudgepot game last Thursday night between San Dimas and Bonita they might all have been true.
It was all San Dimas, then all Bonita,and in the end again San Dimas. The game featured several great plays, but also an equal amount of key mistakes. There were 10 touchdowns, two two point conversions, a missed two point conversion, a safety, an interception, a fumble and a couple of injuries.
It had agony and frustration but also ecstasy and jubilation.
There wasn’t just one hero, there were several. For San Dimas Andrew Espinoza ran for the game winning touchdown, and Austin Hill recovered the fumble that led to the game winner. Jake Payton rushed for three touchdowns and over 150 yards and Cody McNeal had five catches for over 100 yards.
Also there was sophomore Erick Ware who booted four extra points including the deciding one. But without any of them the Saints wouldn’t have been holding the trophy at he end.
For Bonita Victor Magallanes made receptions that would have made Jerry Rice proud and had a pair of touchdown catches and Tanner Diebold threw three TD strikes.
People want to lay the loss at the feet of Reggie Turner for his late fumble but the truth is, Bonita would not have been in the position to win the game had it not been for Turner.
When the Bearcats were down 30-8 in the second quarter, I turned to photographer Duane Barker and mentioned that Turner only had four carries. “Yeah I know, when are they going to start giving him the ball?” he replied.
Bonita Coach Adrian Medrano must have been thinking the same thing. Turner started getting the ball. And when Turner started getting the ball, the momentum shifted to the green and white. Turner had carries of 15, 27, 16 and 25, and also had an eight yard reception for a score. By the time the night was finished he had rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown.
He left the game just before the end of the third quarter with leg cramps and returned late in the fourth with the Bearcats having just stopped San Dimas on a fourth and one. He got popped on his first carry and the ball bounced loose. Should he have been in the game? A better question would be how can you leave your best back be on the bench with the game on the line?
The best players get the ball when it matters and although there are many successes there is also the occasional failure. They get the praise when they win and the blame when they lose. Turner shouldn’t be blamed but instead praised for keeping Bonita in the game.
It was the type of game where one key mistake, turnover, or penalty, would make the difference in the game.
“They made one more mistake than we did. That’s all.” said San Dimas Coach Bill Zernickow.
The Saints jumped out to a 22 point lead only to see Bonita run off 30 straight points to grab it back. Espinoza’s run and Ware’s boot put the Saints in front. The Bearcats had one last shot but Brandt Davis’ 49 yard field goal kick fell short.
San Dimas leaped in celebration while hearts sunk on the Bonita side.
It was everything I hoped for and more, an instant classic. It was also the first game of the season.
That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.