ELSINORE--Football players have come and gone at Elsinore High, 82 years worth to be exact.
None had won a Southern Section title until Saturday night.
The Tigers regrouped after a slow start and toppled Fontana Summit, 21-7, in the Eastern Division final at Elsinore High, setting off an emotional celebration unmatched in the Inland Empire this season.
Grown men danced like teenagers. Teenagers fell to their knees and cried like toddlers. Moms who knew little about the Xs and Os of football rushed on the field. Dads stayed behind and shared hugs with others around them.
It was a celebration long in the making.
“I’m just so happy,” said running back Daniel Rodriquez, who carried the ball 24 times for 131 yards and two touchdowns. “I just really haven’t taken it all in yet.”
The game turned midway through the second quarter. The SkyHawks were leading, 7-0, when they inexplicitly tried a fake punt from their own end zone and punter Jameel Erving was tackled on the four-yard line.
On the next play, Rodriguez ran into the end zone and the point-after tied the score, 7-7.
Four minutes later, Rodriguez scored again, following the blocking of Zach Dembrowski, Ricardo Morales, Will Ulrich, Corbit Kestly, Cody Blackwell and Nolan Peralta, this time on a nine-yard run for a 14-7 lead with two minutes left in the first half.
“We have a great line, they just blocked hard,” Rodriguez said. “That’s our offense, that’s what we do.”
After missing a 38-yard field goal on their first possession of the second half, the Tigers continued to play good defense, holding Summit (10-3-1) to just one first down in the third quarter.
Elsinore (12-2) received some insurance on a one-yard run by Seth Middlemas on the second play of the fourth quarter.
Following an interception in the end zone by Allan Stubbs, the Tigers were able to run out the final 7:57 off the clock.