By Rich Whittington
(The Swamp)—Sometimes getting to a championship requires riding over The Mountains of the Moon and down The Valley of the Shadow …The South El Monte Eagles began that journey on Friday night and had no trouble in their 2017 CIF playoff opener as they routed the visiting El Dorado Golden Hawks, 50-7.
South’s Sal Tovar led the way, rushing for 250 yards and four touchdowns. Tovar scored on runs of 3, 37, 49, and 58-yards while leading an offense that amassed 460 yards of total offense. Eagles’ quarterback Daniel Olmos, 8/15 for 191 yards, contributed to the evening’s scoring barrage, finding running back Jarvis Alexander Godinez for a 73-yard scoring catch and run. The Eagles were also successful in converting a 2-point PAT attempt…as Olmos connected with AJ Carreon for the score. The remainder of the offensive scoring was provided by kicker Gasper Beltran, who successfully converted six PAT attempts.
Defensively, the Eagles soared. Outside linebacker Mark Sosa recorded three sacks of Hawk quarterback Jack Strouse. Sosa also recovered a fumble and returned an intercepted pass for a 13-yard touchdown. Cornerback Ernesto Estrada added another interception, while nose tackle Isaac Nunez recovered a fumble.
As their strength began to fail them at length, the Golden Hawks finally got on the scoreboard late in the fourth quarter, when Senior quarterback Jack Strouse connect with senior wide-out Jared Nitzel for an 11-yard score. Kicker Nathan Jaquez converted the PAT attempt, making the score 43-7, with 9:16 remaining in the contest.
The game was not without controversy. Play was interrupted for approximately five minutes, as the officials were forced to deal with an El Dorado fan, who threw a water bottle at one of the South El Monte players. Order was restored, and the game continued.
South El Monte (10-1) now moves into the second round of the CIF Division 12 playoffs, and into the Valley of the Shadow as thy host Rancho Christian (the team that defeated them in the semifinals last year) next Friday, 11/17/17. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM. The Golden Hawks finish the 2017 football season with a record of 5-6, 1-2 in North Hills league competition.