Fontana Summit doubters doubt no more

Written by Bob on November 23rd, 2009

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Photo & Story By BOB OTTO

FONTANA, CA – On Saturday morning I was gloating and saying to anyone who would listen, “I told you so.”

For I had predicted that Fontana Summit would knock off Perris Citrus Hill in last Friday’s first-round CIF-Southern Section Eastern Division football playoff game.

And the Sky Hawks did, although it was a hard-fought and close 48-36 score.

Most of the local daily sports writers’ prognostications called for a Citrus Hill victory. Most of the Citrus Hill fans already had the “W” penciled in the win column. And even many of Summit’s own fans were doubtful the Sky Hawks could achieve the unthinkable:

Knock off the Eastern Division’s number one seed. Knock of an undefeated and highly ranked first round opponent. Knock off the defending two-time CIF Eastern Division champion.

And in the two teams very first meeting in 2006, Citrus Hill crunched Summit, 51-0.

So actually, who could blame the doubting, doubters?

Citrus Hill came into the game riding a 10-0 season record. Along with a state-best, 38-0 record – extending back three seasons. And the Hawks had just wrapped up their third-straight Mountain Pass League championship. And they had the home-field advantage.

The Hawks had a lot going for themselves.

Meanwhile, Summit entered the game with a mediocre 5-5 record, a big tumble from the previous season’s 8-2. And they finished third in the Sunkist League. Respectable, sure, but nothing lofty like Citrus Hill.

SCHEDULE FAVORS SUMMIT
But a look at the two teams’ schedules should have forecast trouble for Citrus Hill. Because strength of schedule overwhelmingly favored Summit.

In it’s preseason games, Summit didn’t take on any patsies. First up, Etiwanda. The Sky Hawks lost to the Eagles in the closing minutes, 20-17. Etiwanda (8-3) went on to win the Baseline League championship, and in the first round of playoffs, defeated San Bernardino Cajon, 38-6.

In its second pre-season game, Summit took on Citrus Belt League power, Redlands, and lost a heartbreaker, 16-14, on a field goal with 12-seconds left in the game. Redlands (9-2) finished second in the CBL and defeated Moreno Valley View, 35-7, in the first game of playoffs.

And in Summit’s third and final pre-season game, they scheduled High Desert king pin, Silverado (8-3), losing 28-14. Silverado has qualified for the CIF playoffs for the past four seasons.

So in those three loses, Summit faced three opponents with a combined 25-8 record.

Closer scrutiny also reveals that the Sky Hawks lost by an average of 6.25 points in four of its five loses. Norte Vista was the only team to decisively beat Summit by a 44-29 margin in a Sunkist League game.

STRONG SUNKIST
Summit finished third in the Sunkist behind number two, Norte Vista (10-1), and the league champion Fontana Kaiser Cats (8-3). The Cats had all they could handle with the Sky Hawks before eking out a 13-7 win on October 29th.

So that 5-5 Summit record could have, and maybe should have been far better.

After Summit’s victory over Citrus Hill, coach Tony Barile said:

“We could have been 8-2, or even 10-0.”

Now let’s look at Citrus Hill’s schedule. It wasn’t nearly as tough as Summit’s. The Hawks easily won its first three pre-season games against Lakeside of Elsinore, which finished with a 3-7 record; Great Oak of Temecula (6-5), and Perris (1-9).

And in the Mountain Pass League, undefeated Citrus Hill trounced league foes by an average of 26 points per game. They simply weren’t challenged.

As Summit center Paul Ibarra sees it, Summit’s challenging schedule prepared the Sky Hawks for post-season play.

“We planned for a tough schedule. They (Etiwanda, Redlands, and Silverado) were tough teams,” said Ibarra after the Citrus Hill game. “Our schedule prepared us. We are confident and we believe in ourselves.”

PALM SPRINGS NEXT
But Ibarra and his teammates can’t rest on their laurels. Coming to Fontana on Friday for the second round of playoffs is Palm Springs (8-2). And they’re no pushovers. The Indians finished second in the Desert Valley League behind LaQuinta (8-3).

In the first round of playoffs, Palm Springs showed off its firepower by shellacking Barstow a 41-0. And last year, Palm Springs eliminated Summit in the playoffs, 35-6.

Barile said that Summit is looking forward to avenging that loss.

“They beat us badly,” he said. “But we have them in our place this year. It will be exciting.”

Any doubters? I didn’t think so.


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