East County Sports

Patriots pull away from Central for win




EastCountySports.com staff report


EL CENTRO – The Christian High varsity football team has a few obstacles in the way when the Eastern League season begins this week.

But following a 4-1 non-league slate, consider the Patriots tested and ready following a 44-28 come-from-behind victory over the host Central Spartans at Cal Jones Field in El Centro on Friday.

“Central was one of the most physical teams we’ve played,” Christian head coach Danny Mitchell said. “We were down 21-17 but the guys battled and showed their willingness to fight for a win together. I’m extremely proud of this team.”

The Patriots started as hot as the weather in El Centro on Friday night.

The weather was warm, with temperatures surely in the high 90s, but senior J.C. Gustin scorched the earth with a 75-yard touchdown reception down the right sideline from quarterback Jake Davila on the first play from scrimmage.

Gustin scored three touchdowns for the Patriots in the game, racking up 154 receiving yards on the night.

The Spartans countered the early score to get on the board on an 18-yard touchdown on a screen pass to Artie Estrada on the short side, but trailed, 7-6, just 10 seconds into the second quarter after the kick was blocked.

Christian took a 10-6 lead on a 35-yard field goal by Hunter Provience with 8:34 remaining in the second quarter.

Aaron Shebloski scored an interception return for a 28-yard touchdown to make it 17-6.

Central, however, would close the lead again with a 5-yard score by Charlie Sullivan to make it 17-14 at halftime, as the Spartans converted a two-pointer.

The Spartans took the lead in the third quarter for a 21-17 edge with an offensive fumble recovery in the end zone by freshman Sergio Garcia with 2:56 left in the third quarter.

Christan regained the edge when Gustin put the moves on for a touchdown following a short pass from Davila for a 26-yard score on the last play of the third quarter to take a 24-21 lead.

Christian added another score when Joey Merritt took a pitch on a sweep a threw a miracle ball, because that is the only way to describe it, to Gustin in the end zone. Gustin out-jumped his defender to secure the grab the ball for a 33-yard touchdown and make the score 31-21.

“We stepped up to the challenge as a team and I’m proud of everyone,” Gustin said. “We didn’t complain about the heat or being down from injuries. We just went out and played.”

Davila added a touchdown with 3:36 left in the game for a 38-21 lead.

“Jake stepped up in the big moments and willed us to a win,” Mitchell said. “And Joey Merritt is an absolute baller.”

Hunter Kaul, of the Patriots, returned an interception 60 yards for a score with 2:21 left in the contest for a 44-21 lead.

Brady Bingham also had an interception for Christian High.

Christian High junior quarterback Jake Davila, out of the emergency room to back in the lineup not a week later, completed 21 of 28 passes for 298 yards.

“I am totally healthy and excited for our league schedule,” Davila said. “Tonight was a big win and gives us a really good mindset going into league.”

Shane Bailey had a sack in the first half for Christian High and Hunter Provience added a sack in the contest, as well.

Junior Aiden Hypes finished with 12 tackles, including six solo stops for CHS.

Garcia scored on a 28-yard touchdown with 33 seconds left in the game. Samantha Garcia kicked the PAT.

Christian’s first Eastern League game will be against the La Jolla Vikings (2-3) on the road.

Despite the disparity in the records, the contest is very closely-rated, although Christian High was the third-highest rated East County team in the latest computer ratings following last week’s play.


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