“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.