East County Sports

Vaqueros’ Burner close to win No. 100

El Capitan head coach Ron Burner. / Billy Ortiz



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer
LAKESIDE — Along the path to 100 victories as a high school football coach, El Capitan mentor Ron Burner holds many memorable victories.
Included are league titles, CIF San Diego Section crowns, and even a Southern California championship en route to appearing in the state championship contest.
With Burner doing double-duty at this time of the year — he runs Nicolosi’s Restaurant, giving him two projects to operate — the editorial staff at East County Sports decided to look over the Burner coaching resume to determine his most important victory in leading the Vaqueros.
There were several choices, but we skipped past the long list of postseason contests and settled on a regular season battle royale.
Anyone who knows anything about East County football knows anything of importance runs through Helix High over the past four decades.
This is where we landed: a 2013 pairing of the Vaqueros and Highlanders in the regular-season finale to determine the Grossmont Hills League champion.
Early on, El Capitan trailed, 14-0, yet somehow turned it around, registering a 24-17 triumph before a standing-room-only crowd at El Capitan Stadium.
“It can’t get a whole lot closer than it was in this game,” Burner told East Couty Sports following the nail-niter.
Entering the contest, the undefeated El Capitan Vaqueros (9-0) captured every ballgame by double digits. However, Helix was right there at 8-1, only falling at Cathedral Catholic, 9-7, in Week 3.
The early Scotties’ lead came on first-quarter touchdown runs by Jihad Woods and Nathan Stinson, making El Cap’s dream of a perfect season might come to an end.
However, the Vaqueros’ defense yielded only three additional points while the offense finally moved into gear
Senior wide receiver San Mekero waltzed to the endzone on a 20-yard pass from Brad Cagle with 5:36 left in the half.
Then with a minute left until intermission, Zach Cagle caught a 10-yard pass from his brother to level the match.
However, Helix grabbed the halftime lead at 17-14 on a 35-yard Matthias Layton field goal with 11 seconds remaining.
Remarkably, the Scotties would not score again.
In the third period, Vaqueros kicker Dakota Curo booted a game-tying, 33-yard field goal, leaving the championship to be decided by one final period of football.
The decision was titled toward El Capitan, with running back pounded up the middle from the Helix-3 to cap a long, game-winning drive.
Today, Burner owns 98 career wins entering Thursday’s home affair with El Cajon Valley.
Ironically, the coach on the Helix sidelines that night some nine years ago was Troy Starr, who now coaches at Mount Miguel.
If Starr and the Highlanders have won this memorable ballgame, Starr would have 100 career wins in San Diego Section contests — he currently stands at 99 wins locally.


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