Vista After knocking off then-No. 1 San Pasqual last week, Rancho Buena Vista High had high aspirations of doing the same thing Friday night against visiting Mission Hills, the county’s current No. 1.
It just wasn’t going to happen. The Grizzlies had too much firepower for RBV, winning 31-14 to prevent the Longhorns from clinching the Avocado East League in coach Paul Gomes’ second season at the school.
But the victory didn’t come without a great deal of resistance from the Longhorns. The Grizzlies led by only 7-0 in the final minute of the first half and, after Mission Hills (8-1, 3-1) stretched its lead to 21 points, RBV closed to within 24-14 before Mission Hills scored a late touchdown with 38 seconds left in the game on a 2-yard run by Ricky Liuchan.
“I’m truly impressed with RBV,” Mission Hills coach Chris Hauser said after the Grizzlies clinched at least a tie for the league title with only the Discovery Bowl remaining against crosstown rival and nonleague opponent San Marcos next week. “I’m impressed with their style of play. Paul Gomes gets his kids to play physical football, and that brings out the best in you.”
The Longhorns are 5-3 and 2-1 in league.
Mission Hills quarterback Connor Wynn was 17 of 27 passing with touchdowns to Scott Higgins for 13 yards and DeChaun Holiday for 24 yards. Wynn also ran for a TD on a 1-yard quarterback sneak one play after RBV’s 6-foot-4, 230-pound linebacker Shane McNary had stuffed a play inches short of the goal line.
Holiday, the Grizzlies’ two-way junior standout, also intercepted a pass at the 2-yard line as RBV drove down the field and nearly tied the game at a touchdown apiece late in the first quarter.
“We going to get our best kids on defense,” Hauser said. “And we have a lot of packages and play a lot of kids on defense.”
Rancho Buena Vista scored on a 4-yard run by Chad Wolsey that was set up by Ray Garcia’s interception and 55-yard return late in the second quarter and a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Dylan Harris that was set up by Luke Cottrell, who carried the ball for 58 yards on five carries on a fourth-quarter drive.
“Mission Hills is a class act. They buy into Chris Hauser’s program and they’ve been with him a long time,” Gomes said. “We’re earlier in what we intend to be in the same process.”