East County Sports

Eagles clinch first CIF championship

The Eagles celebrate after winning the CIF Division II title.


CIF San Diego Section Championships
Division II Final (at Escondido HS)


By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

ESCONDIDO — Even though it took Granite Hills High some 43 years to return to the CIF San Diego Section championship game, the school’s first-ever crown as football titlists came sooner than expected.

Mounting a large fourth-quarter lead, game officials allowed the Division II contest to conclude with a running clock after top-seeded the Eagles clocked the Ramona Bulldogs, 48-12, in Saturday’s (Nov. 26) final at Escondido High’s Chick Embrey Field.

Learning a lesson from the 2021 CIF playoff game at Oceanside, Granite Hills scrapped its original philosophy on offense at mid-stream, going exclusively with a ground game to bounce the Bulldogs almost at will.

Following a ‘Pick 6’ touchdown runback on a screen pass by Ramona linebacker Jonny Cohen, the Eagles overcame a short-lived (63 seconds) deficit of 12-7 with 41 unanswered points.

The key play to re-take the lead on the next Eagles possession was a handoff to Zak Darling, who would score twice in the contest.

On a burst up the middle, Darling followed the block of center Nicholas Marroquin and guards Alejandro Tejeda and Erick Delgado for a 54-yard burst up the middle

On the next play, Maxwell Turner raced around the left side for the final six yards and the go-ahead score..

Turner would cap the half with his second TD of the quarter on an 18-yard burst between the guards. In between, Jackson would take a carry on a 3rd-and-goal from the Bulldogs-2 into the end zone to make it a 27-12 cushion at the break.

The advantage might have been greater, but a 33-yard TD run by reserve QB Parlan Sanders was called back due to holding.

On the ensuing kickoff, one of the biggest hits of the night belonged to Eagles sophomore Parker Vance, who knocked the Ramona kickoff returner well out of bounds with a huge bodyblock.

Early On

Granite Hills opened the scoring on a 46-yard burst by Zak Darling, his first of two scores,

Ramona answered with a 97-yard drive, but it also proved costly.

Bulldogs quarterback Colin Lester was smacked on a blind-side hit on a corner blitz by Joaquin Thomas, Jr.

The hit was Lester’s third in four plays following a pair of sacks by safety Derrek Ibarra.

However, reserve QB Dillion Day entered,, hitting Jake Steiner over the middle for 22-yard pass completion, then Day sneaked the ball in from the Eagles-3.

Still, Granite Hills maintained the lead when the PAT kick was blocked. It also proved to be Ramona’s lone offensive score all night, as the Eagles’ defensive line would take over. Included were several stops for no gain by Moshi Tileia and Damarrion White.

Lester later returned to the contest, yet was clearly not the same.

Second Half

Granite Hills needed just 36 seconds to tuck away the trophy early as Sanders rambled 38 yards with a pair of nice cuts downfield.

Ramona’s QB, while getting hit, saw Joaquin Thomas, Jr., intercept a fluttering ball, spriting for a 28-0yard TD runback just 97 seconds later.

On the next Ramona possession, the Bulldogs advanced the ball into the red zone, but on a fourth-down handoff, the Eagles defense forced a fumble which was recovered by Moshi Tileia (12-yard return), the right defensive tackle..

In the fourth quarter, Darling scored on a 10-ard sweep to the left side. He skipped past a Ramona linebacker and raced untouched into the end zone..

The Eagles’ scoring drive was set-up on a fumble recovery by Tyler Bertalan.

Granite Hills, the Grossmont Hills League champs, caps its first CIF championship season with an 11-2 record. Ramona finishes at 8-5.

CIF Sportsmanship Awards
Easton Peterson (GH)
Colin Lester (R)


CIF San Diego Section Championships
At Escondido HS, Chick Embrey Field
Division II – Final
Granite Hills 48, Ramona 21

Ramona  (8-5).......... 6  6  0 0 - 12
Granite Hills (11-2)... 7 20 14 7 - 48

First Quarter
GH – Darling 46 run (Petrich kick), 6:18
R – Day 3 run(kick failed), 11:04; 97-yard drive
Second Quarter
R – Cohen 56 interception return (run failed), 0:42
GH – Turner 6 run (kick blocked), 1:45; set-up on 54-yard run by Darling
GH – Jackson 2 run (Petrich kick), 5:07
GH – Turner 18 run (Petrich kick), 8:00
Third Quarter
GH – Sanders 38 run (Petrich kick), 0:36
GH – J.Thomas Jr. 28 interception return (Petrich kick). 2:13
Fourth Quarter
GH- Darling 10 run (Petrich kick), 3:40; set-up on interception by  Tyler Bertalan



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