Inland Empire: All is not melancholy on this range

At least one team is celebrating in Romoland.

That would be Heritage High School, which opened three years ago on a 65-acre lot between Perris, Hemet, Lake Elsinore and Murrieta, better known as Romoland.

The Patriots are 3-0 for the first time in their short history, posting an impressive season-opening victory against San Jacinto and then knocking off Riverside Patriot and Beaumont.

If only the Dallas Cowboys and quarterback Tony Romo were so fortunate.

Heritage has been leaning on its running game this season and Scott Benson has been holding up. Most recently, the senior rushed for 205 yards and four touchdowns Friday night in a 35-14 victory against visiting Beaumont. It was his third straight 100-yard rushing game.

Here are some highlights of Benson doing his thing.

Without a doubt, the most impressive victory came in the season opener against San Jacinto, when Heritage rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit and then blocked a last-minute field-goal attempt to win, 34-31.

The Patriots, who moved to the Sunbelt League this season along with Lake Elsinore Temescal Canyon, will attempt to notch another win in their belt when they travel to Hemet Tahquitz on Friday night.

Who’s that knockin’ at the door?: Redlands East Valley makes a big move to No. 19 in the Cal Hi Sports Southern California top 25, settling behind fellow Inland Empire teams Corona Centennial, Vista Murrieta and Norco. ESPNLA considers Upland the fourth-best team and doesn’t even have REV in the top 10.

Good thing Upland hosts Norco on Friday night.

REV will certainly get a chance to score some points with ESPNLA. The Wildcats hit the road for Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Friday night, taking on Orange Lutheran, a program that usually doesn’t play two bad games in a row.

That’s followed up with an Oct. 1 date against Chino Hills at the University of Redlands. Chino Hills is also knocking on the door of the top 10 after knocking off Tesoro last weekend. If that’s not a tough enough stretch, REV is scheduled to travel to Mission Viejo on Oct. 8.

If the Wildcats can win two of their next three, they definitely deserve a spot in the top 10.


No records this time around: Must have been nice for Great Oak to see a different Citrus Hill ball carrier Friday night. A year ago, senior running Deontae Cooper carried the ball a state-record 59 times to lead Citrus Hill to a 30-20 victory against the Wolfpack. He totaled 412 yards and four touchdowns.

With Cooper now at Washington, the Wolfpack fared much better against Citrus Hill junior running back Davien Payne, who came into the game leading the Southern Section in rushing yards and touchdowns. Great Oak limited Payne to 136 rushing yards in 23 carries and his team’s lone touchdown in the 21-7 loss.


More good stuff from Great Oak: The Wolfpack girls’ cross-country team is ranked third in the nation in the most recent Harrier Super 25 high school rankings.

Great Oak is coming off a record-setting performance Saturday at the Woodbridge Invitational in Irvine, winning the girls’ team sweepstakes race with a team time of 86 minutes 34 seconds, three minutes faster than second-place Mission Viejo Trabuco Hills.

Anna Johnson was Great Oak’s top team finisher on the three-mile course and fourth overall in 16:59, twin sister Katie Johnson was sixth in 17:05.


Better late than never: Riverside Sherman Indian started its season a week or two later than most everyone else, but it was worth the wait as the Braves defeated newly opened Crean Lutheran of Irvine, 21-12, on Friday.

Sherman Indian, a boarding school for Native Americans who usually don’t arrive on campus until shortly before the start of the season, lost its first three games last season, to Pasadena Poly, Riverside Christian and the California School for the Deaf, by a combined score of 128-0.

The Braves will try to make it two in a row when they travel to Sage Hill in Newport Beach on Friday.