East County Sports

Monarchs finally claim Valley crown

JAHMON MCCLENDON rushes behind Elshaddai Levi on Friday night. / photo by Melissa Honick Photography

Jack Browning (13) tackles Kenny Stevens on Friday night. / photo by Melissa Honick



EastCountySports.com staff report


SPRING VALLEY – The Monte Vista Monarchs won their second championship in as many years. This one was 14 years in the making.

The Monarchs overwhelmed West Hills in the second quarter on Friday night to claim the Grossmont Valley League championship with a 35-0 victory.

Monte Vista’s BRYANT ADAMS catches the ball on Friday night. / photo by Melissa Honick – melissahonickphotography.com

Monte Vista (9-1, 4-0 GVL), which won a section division title last season, will receive a bye in the Division III playoffs and will await the winner of a matchup between Rancho Buena Vista and Santa Fe Christian.

West Hills  (8-2, 3-1 GVL) was rewarded with a trip to face the Imperial Tigers in the first round of the San Diego CIF Division III playoffs next Friday evening.

Except for the Monte Vista scoring blitz in the second quarter, the visiting Wolf Pack appeared to make a match, especially after a scoreless first quarter.

But a 99-yard touchdown run by Monte Vista senior running back JAHMON MCCLENDON was followed up by a recovered high, medium-depth kickoff by the Monarchs on the ensuing boot, which appeared to have the Wolf Pack off guard.

“After a series where we couldn’t convert a fourth down after the 99-yard touchdown and then the kickoff recovery that they had, we hadn’t been put in that situation before and we didn’t know how to respond,” West Hills senior quarterback JORDIN YOUNG said. “And the way we did respond wasn’t the way we were hoping.”

The momentum swept its way to the home side and McClendon, along with his offensive front that was missing a key member,  quickly bowled over the Pack for three more scores before intermission, including a 75-yarder which gave the Monarchs a four-touchdown lead.

“We knew it was going to be tough you could tell in the first quarter,” Monte Vista senior BLAKE SCHMIDT said. “The momentum shift in the second quarter put us up 28-0. It was incredible, especially in the fashion that we did it in front of our fans.”

McClendon rushed 378 yards and added a fifth touchdown in the second half.

West Hills wraps up McClendon on Friday night. / photo by melissahonickphotography.com

Monte Vista’s defense kept up the momentum throughout, turning in a championship-worthy performance.

“It has always been one of those things that has always been right there,” Schmidt said. “It just never happened until tonight. It’s a big accomplishment, especially since it hasn’t happened in 14 years.”

The Wolf Pack received gains on offense from KOLE KLINGERMAN, TRENT OBERG, HUNTER GAUTHIER, and AUSTIN PEAT.

“We knew Young is their main weapon,” Schmidt said. “We went into the game thinking we had to shut him down and all of his big plays. We knew if everyone did their job, we could shut them down.

Before the game, coach (RON HAMAMOTO) told us to ‘calm down. This is what we play for.’

“He’s everything you could ask for in a coach. He’s always there super early, always watching film and he’s extremely smart.”

Schmidt praised the play of junior noseguard MANNY LEVI.

“He came up big stuffing the dive,” Schmidt said.

Monte Vista makes a tackle on Friday night. / photo by melissahonickphotography.com

Monte Vista senior ELSHADDAI LEVI also paced the defense, along with senior JACK WALKER, who had a sack. Junior ISAIAH GARNDER, and seniors KENNY STEVENS and TERELL KYLE also made stops for the Monarchs.

Monte Vista’s EJ HENDERSON, who was the Monarchs quarterback last season, was behind center for this one.

The Monarchs were without senior offensive line star CHRISTIAN DELACRUZ (concussion protocol), but juniors BRANDON NAVAREZ, RON BARRY, and JARED REINHOLDT held down the fort.

Young passed for 120 yards and also kept plays alive with his feet.

“I didn’t want any of our guys going into film tomorrow with that look of regret on their face with them knowing they could’ve given more,” Young said. “I believe every one of the players tonight left everything on that field physically.”

West Hills senior AUSTIN PEAT carries the ball against Monte Vista. / photo by melissahonickphotography.com

West Hills will regroup and head out to the Imperial Valley for a playoff game with the Tigers, who finished 6-4 this season.

The Wolf Pack and Tigers both defeated Southwest (El Centro) and Mount Miguel this season.

“As a team, we were tested tonight mentally,” Young said. “It was a test that I think is going to better us come next week. It’s going to open some eyes because these are the teams were are going to have to play if we want to extend the season.

“I can’t wait to see how my teammates respond to this kind of dominance that Monte Vista had on us tonight. With the type of players and leadership we have on this team, we are going to be able to fight back next week.”

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