Santa Fe Christian assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Dan Egan gets doused with water after the Eagles clinched the San Diego Section Division V football title.
ESCONDIDO A constant, light drizzle throughout the evening hardly dampened the spirits of those hosting the San Diego Section football championships on Friday night at Escondido High’s Wilson Stadium. Dozens of friendly volunteers did a fantastic job planning, preparing and holding together the section’s marquee sporting event of the year.
“It’s been neat watching the school community coming together to put on a special event like this,” Escondido Principal Rich Watkins said. “We knew we had great people working for us, and they have really come through.”
Traditionally, four of the five section finals are held at Qualcomm Stadium — courtesy of the Chargers — but when the NFL handed the Bolts back-to-back home games, the conflict forced section Commissioner Jerry Schniepp and his staff to find another venue this season. Furthermore, Southwestern College’s Devore Stadium was being renovated, and USD’s Torero Stadium was hosting the NCAA women’s soccer College Cup this weekend. Escondido was notified in mid-September that it would be the site.
“It’s not at the Q, but we wanted this to be a great experience for the kids,” said Escondido Athletic Director Steve Bridges, who deserves applause for the countless extra hours he put in staging the two-day event. “Obviously this doesn’t happen without a lot of great people working very hard to make this a special event.”
Coach’s view: Longtime local broadcaster John “The Coach” Kentera (XX Sports 1090) had this to say about the games being played at Escondido: “It’s still a championship. All the guys would love to play at Qualcomm, but these guys would strap it up in the back parking lot if they had to.”
Press box plus: Wilson Stadium is the only high school facility in the section with a restroom in the press box. A clean one at that!
Add Wilson: Formerly known as Memorial Stadium until it was rebuilt in the late 1990s, Wilson Stadium has a flagpole in the south end zone that used to be the mast on the USS Missouri.
No place like home: Santa Fe Christian coach Nick Ruscetta is a 1978 Escondido graduate and played on the last team coached by the legendary Chick Embrey, who won the section’s first-ever football title in 1960. Ruscetta also coached at Escondido and led the Cougars to a runner-up finish in the 1995 Division II title game. “It’s kind of fate,” Ruscetta said after his Eagles defeated Francis Parker 31-15 for the Division V title. “It’s nice to come back here and win a championship.”
Good first week: Former Cal State San Marcos Athletic Director Tom Seitz became Santa Fe Christian’s new AD on Monday.
Rivalry tunes: In the Division I final, Mission Hills’ fight song is the same melody as USC’s “Fight On”; Eastlake borrowed its from UCLA’s “The Mighty Bruins.”
Travel time: Friday evening traffic made it approximately a one-hour drive from Qualcomm Stadium to Escondido High, but Chula Vista’s Eastlake played it safe and tasty for their 7:35 start. The Titans arrived in Escondido at 3:15 and enjoyed a pregame meal at nearby Mike’s BBQ.
Faces in the crowd: Former NFL MVP Brian Sipe, a former SFC head coach and now an assistant coach at SDSU. Former Chargers kicker Rolf Benirschke. And Mike Kozlowski, a Carlsbad graduate and former DB with the Miami Dolphins.
Prilosec please: Juicy grilled hot dog and warm, salty pretzel easily beat fare that would have been offered at Qualcomm. Better prices, too!"