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U-T Honor Bowl needs more S.D. teams

09/09/2013, 8:14pm PDT
By John Maffei

Local schools can help fill the stands for military fundraiser at Oceanside High.

Jumpers parachute in before the start of the Gardena Serra-Oceanside game, which drew the largest crowd of the weekend during the U-T San Diego Honor Bowl at Oceanside High.

The U-T San Diego Honor Bowl last weekend at Oceanside High was a roaring success, far exceeding expectations.

There were three great high school football games, one dud and one JV contest.

Around the field there were sky divers, military displays, football throws and concessions worthy of a county fair.

Still, this event could be so much better should the organizers choose to return to Oceanside.

Friday’s first game was a JV contest between Oceanside and Corona Centennial.

Maybe the 4 p.m. Friday game could be a clash between small-school powers like San Diego’s Santa Fe Christian, Francis Parker or Christian against San Juan Capistrano St. Margaret, Chatsworth Sierra Canyon or Arcadia Rio Hondo to ensure a larger crowd.

Oceanside should always play the feature game on Friday night against a top-notch, out-of-town opponent.

The Pirates’ game against Gardena Serra was a classic before a rocking, full house. Sure it was a 50-39 loss for Oceanside, but it was a game that will long be remembered by San Diego football fans.

That game, however, should kick off at 7 or 7:30 p.m. instead of 8.

The Saturday games featured a pair of military teams at 9 a.m. Nothing wrong there.

The next three games didn’t have a San Diego team, and that was a mistake as the Simcox Field stands were only half-full — at best.

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame took down Loomis Del Oro 41-24 in the noon game.

This event was started by Del Oro coaches three years ago, and the Sacramento-area school should always be involved. But a San Diego team — Mission Hills, Madison, Helix, Cathedral Catholic or St. Augustine — should have been the opponent.

The 4 p.m. game was a 57-28 dud, Westlake Village Oaks Christian winning easily with Upland in disarray. Again, a San Diego team should have played Oaks Christian.

The late game was a 69-55 all-time classic with Corona Centennial beating Ventura St. Bonaventure.

Tre Watson, Centennial’s Cal-bound running back, rushed 37 times for 468 yards and seven touchdowns. Centennial quarterback Robert Webber completed 21 of 30 passes for 346 yards and rushed 11 times for 77 yards.

St. Bonaventure’s Marcus Chambers rushed 25 times for 235 yards and caught three passes for 63 yards. Alabama-bound quarterback Ricky Town completed 24 of 34 passes for 259 yards and five TDs.

This was like watching basketball on grass as the teams combined for a state record 1,377 yards of total offense — 870 yards by Centennial and 507 by St. Bonaventure. Plus, St. Bonaventure had a 96-yard kickoff return or the total offense mark could have been even higher.

The crowd for that game was only OK, but this game convinced me that not all three Saturday games need a San Diego team.

The feature game — which should start at 7 or 7:30 p.m. instead of 8 — would be fine as long as Honor Bowl organizers could secure teams like Centennial, St. Bonaventure, Long Beach Poly, Vista Murrieta or Santa Ana Mater Dei.

A lead-in with a San Diego team could help the crowd.

Big crowds on Saturday would help everyone since this is a fundraiser for military causes. That being said, our military members couldn’t have been better.

The Army, Navy and Marines all had displays on the Simcox Field concourse. Our military folks were pleasant, helpful, and engaging. It was a pleasure to spend time with young men and women of the armed forces, to hear their stories about hometowns and athletic accomplishments.

With a nephew going into the Navy next month, it was alarming to see just how young these men and women really are.

I was also impressed that no one was gouging. Parking was at a premium, but free. At $10, ticket prices were fair. Concession prices were reasonable with water $1.

And the Oceanside High staff couldn’t have been more accommodating.

This event needs to stay in Oceanside.

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