One Year Ago: Lions Finish Perfect Season, Capture State Title 32-7

El Monte CIF State Division 5 AA Champions

“Our One Year Ago” series moves to the final game of the season. Rich Whittington traveled up North to cover his alma mater, El Monte, capture the 5-AA State Championship. The Lions put a bow on a perfect season with a rout of Del Norte in Crescent City on Saturday night December 14, 2019.

By Rich Whittington

(Crescent City, CA) – The El Monte Lions completed their quest for a perfect season Saturday evening, running their way to a 16-0 record, and capturing the CIF Division 5-AA State Championship by defeating the host Del Norte Warriors, 32-7, in front of a sellout crowd at Del Norte’s Mike Whalen Field.

El Monte did what El Monte does best…run, run, run. Davon Booth led the way for the Lions, rushing for 222 yards and four touchdowns. Booth also converted a 2-point PAT attempt. Abel Cueva also got into the scoring game by finding the end zone on a 10- yard TD run. Adding to the Lions running success was Nathan Velasquez, who provided a new wrinkle to El Monte’s already potent offense, by serving as a fullback-type runner.

Velasquez proved effective on short yardage plays, converting several third down attempts, thereby keep El Monte scoring drives alive and running.

In addition to their offensive success, the Lions also had a great night on the defensive side of the ball. CB JJ Reyes led the way for the Lion “D” by sacking Del Norte quarterback OJ Calleja for an 8-yard loss, and by recovering a Del Norte fumble. Also getting into the “turnover” game was LB Sergio Gonzalez, who also recovered a Del Norte fumble. The Lions played a stingy, hard hitting brand of defense that could be seen, and heard, from virtually any spot in the stadium.

Del Norte’s lone score was provided by Levi Cox Cooley, who scored on a 3-yard TD blast. The PAT was successfully converted by K Kenji Adams Lee. This made the score 32-7, with 1:59 remaining in the contest.

El Monte finished the 2019 season with a 16-0 record, winning the Mission Valley League, CIF Division 12, and California State Division 5AA titles. The Warriors finished the 2019 season with a record of 13-2, capturing the Humboldt-Del Norte-Big 4 League, and CIF North Coast section Division 5 titles.

Note: A special thanks to the City of Crescent City, the Del Norte County School District, and the Del Norte Warriors for hosting such a great event. The hospitality and sportsmanship that you provided to your visitors was unsurpassed. This was a wonderful experience, and a glowing example of what sports is all about. Again, thank you for such a memorable experience.

17 Comments to "One Year Ago: Lions Finish Perfect Season, Capture State Title 32-7"

  1. Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
    December 20, 2019 - 11:14 pm | Permalink

    So looks like the only ways EM is going to make runs is by “rebuilding” on transfers. Got it.

  2. LIONS's Gravatar LIONS
    December 20, 2019 - 9:34 pm | Permalink


  3. BLUE LION's Gravatar BLUE LION
    December 20, 2019 - 8:50 pm | Permalink

    EM , is about to not rebuild but “RELOAD” all aboard here it comes….how does 6.2 230lb sound oh 4.6 40 ……all I can say is DAMMMMN

  4. SteveD's Gravatar SteveD
    December 20, 2019 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    Adelanto has no one to blame but lack of discipline. You can debate this for years but at the end of the day EM is still CIF champs.

  5. Really?'s Gravatar Really?
    December 19, 2019 - 2:17 pm | Permalink

    El Monte did a great job! They beat the teams put in front of them by CIF all the way to the state title for Division 5AA. On top of that, they had to travel almost 800 miles to get there and defeat a team in weather “rain and a muddy field that they had never played in or on against a team that ran a version of the Double Wing. Say what you want to, but they got the job done. Where Arroyo could not do it. As a Mater of fact, neither could La Serna this year. 2 points from a state title run. (The lost by 1) No disgrace at all.

    El Monte will have to overcome loosing 19 out of 45 players and that are seniors. The talk next year is there is a possibility’s that all teams may not know what division they are in until the end of the regular season. Soon we may know if there may also be a shuffling of teams into different leagues. There were 3 Penny Brothers at Norwalk HS. 2 in the NFL. The youngest went to Narbonne HS his last 2 years and only had about 10 carries the whole time there. Booth has 11 siblings. Maybe that’s enough to keep El Monte with RB’s until Ceniceros retires? Maybe not?

  6. Sgv's Gravatar Sgv
    December 19, 2019 - 7:24 am | Permalink

    @nope your right they didnt beat Adelanto, Adelanto beat themselves. But guess what El Monte beat way tuffer teams (Jurupa hills, Serra, Nordhoff) than Adelanto. How EMBARRASSING is it that anyone supporting Adelanto keep bringing up El Monte, they have nothing to do with you guys forfeiting for fight up 41-0. How ignorant is that the only was to blame is Adelanto. What a joke

  7. Go Stangs's Gravatar Go Stangs
    December 18, 2019 - 11:00 pm | Permalink

    @EM Guy – good point about spreading the ball around. When you’re working a 16-game schedule (well, 15) it doesn’t do much good if your stats are taking excessive hits while running up the score on weaker teams. There’s no point in kicking puppies.

    Of course, if your #4 RB is all-league, that says something big about the OL. Hopefully all of them got nods as well.

  8. lol's Gravatar lol
    December 18, 2019 - 8:42 pm | Permalink

    They will fair as good as Arroyo has after getting moved up.

  9. Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
    December 18, 2019 - 6:55 pm | Permalink

    You have to be the most ignorant adult alive to try & take something away from El Monte boys…

  10. Just a Fan's Gravatar Just a Fan
    December 18, 2019 - 9:20 am | Permalink


    Looks to me like Booth is a D6 to D1 talent that ran circles around D12 competition…what do you think was going to happen? Congrats to the El Monte Lions, the EMUHD, and the El Monte and surrounding communities who followed and supported them.

  11. Nope's Gravatar Nope
    December 17, 2019 - 11:43 pm | Permalink

    Nope, they didn’t beat Adelanto, that’s a paper title.

  12. Ron Vrooman, AHS stat man's Gravatar Ron Vrooman, AHS stat man
    December 17, 2019 - 10:40 pm | Permalink

    El Monte now gets promoted to Division 11, or how about to Division 10?

  13. Lol's Gravatar Lol
    December 17, 2019 - 9:36 pm | Permalink

    D12 was weaker than D14 this year.
    From T. Peterson: And El Monte absolutely destroyed D-12. So now what?

  14. EM Guy's Gravatar EM Guy
    December 17, 2019 - 3:13 pm | Permalink

    How did that scheduling up go for everyone? El Monte had a pre season that the team got better every week Sotomayor (bad) Glenn (league champ) San Marino (playoff) Orange Vista (semi finalist) Eagle Rock (league champ/semi finalist). Than you had instead of giving Booth 4K yards rushing and Cueva 2k they let them sit the second half in most of their regular season games keeping them healthy. And all the talk from FridayKnights lame DELETED about getting the ball, all four RB will be recognized as all leaguers and will have a pair of rings for CIF and State Champs.
    Great season guys you’ve made the alum and community proud. I know there’s gonna be RBs knocking on the door wanting to join the Lions power house everyone going to be hating again.

  15. Anonymous's Gravatar Anonymous
    December 17, 2019 - 1:37 pm | Permalink

    This season is complete and in the books for all the haters to look back on and try to find something to cry about lol unfortunately for them all they will see is a team that is a perfect 16-0 who along the way won a league, cif, regional and state championship

  16. liondad's Gravatar liondad
    December 17, 2019 - 7:56 am | Permalink

    Defense wins Championships, and last year we lacked a good defense to compliment Booth and our offence. Last year we came so close but lacked key pieces on defense. My son was excited this year when Montoya and Reyes joined the team, cause they played together with the jets and knew how tuff they played. Our 1st two years here where ruff but it was all worth the wait. Congratulations 2019 Champs

  17. Third Title's Gravatar Third Title
    December 16, 2019 - 8:06 pm | Permalink

    El Monte richly deserves the state title for mud wrestling too. Look at those uniforms and tell me otherwise.

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