Vaqueros post dramatic 9-7 win, remain undefeated on season

El Capitan’s Aden Ramirez converted a clutch 35-yard field goal on his first attempt this season to prove the difference in the Vaqueros’ 9-7 win last Friday at Hilltop High School.

Two weeks into the 2022 high school football season and the El Capitan Vaqueros remain undefeated. But just by a thread after clawing their way past the host Hilltop Lancers, 9-7, in a non-league game played last Friday in Chula Vista. The Vaqueros kicked off the season with a 37-6 non-league win over visiting Canyon Hills on Aug. 19. El Capitan averted a 1-1 start after engineering two scores in the fourth quarter while recording a huge defensive stop in the final seconds. “We have a lot still to correct,” head coach Ron Burner said after this team pulled out the harrowing victory. “We were in the red zone four times and scored only once. We need more consistency.” Burner said the competition for the starting quarterback position is ongoing. But so far, so good, with sophomore Brandt Barker and senior Bruce Newland III sharing the signal-calling duties. “We have two quarterbacks who are still competing,” Burner said. “Both have their strengths and weaknesses.” The Vaqueros showed more strength than weakness in upping their early season record to 2-0. Hilltop, which kicked off its season with a 28-14 home victory against the Valhalla Norsemen on Aug. 19, scored the lone points in the opening quarter when sophomore Mason Vaquero reeled in a five yard pitch from senior quarterback Jorge Garcia. The Lancer defense held the lead until 1:45 into the fourth quarter when El Capitan junior Julian May scored on a 34-yard pass from Newland. The two-point conversion attempt failed, however, allowing the hosts to cling to a tenuous 7-6 lead. But not for long. Hilltop had a punt attempt go awry – the ball squirted between the legs of the punter and the ensuing desperation pass was incomplete – to give the Vaqueros possession of the ball at the Lancer 26-yard line. El Capitan was able to move the ball close enough for a 35-yard field goal by senior Aden Ramirez, who split the uprights on his first attempt this year. That put the visitors ahead 9-7. But the game was far from over. Hilltop received the kickoff and proceeded to move down the field in chunks, eventually advancing the ball to the El Cap 10-yard line. Junior Ryder Lynn prevented a touchdown with a shoelace tackle on Vaquero, who appeared headed to the end zone on a breakaway catch. It appeared the Lancers, in the least, were in position for a potential game-winning field goal as precious time began to tick down. On the fateful play that won the game for the Vaqueros, the visitors showed blitz and Hilltop fumbled the exchange from center. The ball wound up in the grasp of senior Austin Cordeiro, who promptly held the ball high in the air as his recovery prize. Just 1:13 remained on the score clock. El Capitan handed the ball off twice to senior Angel Diaz to move the clock to 1:02 with a Vaquero first down. Barker knelt with the ball twice in victory formation to take care of the rest of the time. It may not have been pretty, but it still counted as a win. “It was a tough football game,” Burner admitted. “They used up a lot of time on the clock with their veer formation. The fumble recovery was a huge play; it got us the ball.” And the win. Newland completed nine of 15 passing attempts for 118 yards with one touchdown while Barker completed five of eight attempts for 33 yards. Diaz had 16 carries 94 yards and three receptions for 25 yards. Chance LaChappa caught four passes for 36 yards while May caught three passes for 50 yards with one touchdown. Cordeiro finished the game with 12 tackles, five unassisted, with a fumble recovery. Lynn recorded eight tackles (two unassisted). Ramirez launched three kick-offs for 142 yards. While off to a promising 2-0 start, the Vaqs have key games coming up. El Capitan travels to La Jolla (1-1) for a nonleague game on Friday, then hosts Rancho Buena Vista, currently off to a 2-0 start, on Sept. 9. Both games kick off at 7 p.m.

Vaqueros post dramatic 9-7 win, remain undefeated on season

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