BY Rich Whittington
(Walnut) The Walnut Mustangs got off to a fast start Friday evening, amassing a 28-0, first quarter lead, en route to a 38-13 victory over the visiting San Bernardino Cardinals in the friendly confines of Ken Gunn Stadium.
Walnut wasted little time getting on the scoreboard. After a fumble recovery by Linebacker David Aguliar, Quarterback Noah Covarrubias connected with Wideout Harland Fluker III for a 31-yard score. The PAT was added by Kicker Landon Heyman, making the score 7-0 before most of the fans were even in their seats. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Walnut was just getting started.
After a second Cardinal fumble, this one being recovered by the Mustangs’ Brenden Neely, Covarrubias found Tight End Raymond Katchur for an 18-yard touchdown. A second Heyman PAT made the score 14-0 with 8:14 remaining in the opening quarter. Walnut would add two more scores before the end of the quarter. The first of these being when Running Back Demetrius Stampley scored on a 46-yard run. The second was a third TD pass for Covarrubias, this time to Receiver Jaynon Reed, covering 31 yards. Two additional Heyman PAT’s made the score 28-0 as the first quarter ended.
Scoring slowed a bit in the second quarter. In fact, the only score of the period was provided by San Bernardino. Quarterback Xavier Alvarez called his own number, scoring on a 10-yard blast. The Pat was added by Kicker Jonathan Lupercio Alvarado, making the score 28-7 as the break.
After a scoreless third quarter, both teams added to their scores in the final period. Walnut struck first, as Covarrubias found pay-dirt on a 3-yard scamper. A fifth Heyman PAT attempt was again successful, making the score 35-0 with 10:49 remaining in the contest.
The Mustangs’ added a 22-yard Heyman Field Goal, making the score 38-7, with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.
The Cardinals added the final score of the evening, as Fullback Henry Hernandez, doing his best Larry Csonka impersonation, carried the ball on eight straight attempts, amassing an impressive 95 yards, cumulating in a 1-yard Touchdown blast. The 2-point PAT attempt was unsuccessful, making the score 38-13 as the game came to an end.
Walnut will now have the opportunity to play for their second CIF title in as many years, as the Mustangs host the St. Monica Mariners next Friday, November 24. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00PM. San Bernardino finishes the 2023 football season with a record of 8-5, 4-1 in the Mountain Valley League, 2-1 in CIF playoffs.