Lancers hold off Fullerton Tribe 14-13 in Sept. 30 homecoming game, Freeway League opener


Summer Sueki

Senior Nathan Lee runs past players of the Fullerton Union High School football team during the Sept. 30 homecoming game held at Buena Park High School’s stadium. The Lancers won the game 14-13, setting their Freeway League record at 1-0.

Five years. 

Those years amounted to the winning streak the Sunny Hills football team has over the Fullerton Union High School Tribe.

And last week, the streak continued – but barely.

After leading 14-6 heading into the fourth quarter, the Lancers eeked out a one-point victory at Buena Park High School stadium when Fullerton’s two-point conversion try after scoring a touchdown failed.

“I knew that they were probably going to go for two, and our defense just had to hold,” head coach David Wilde said after the Friday, Sept. 30, game, which was also billed as homecoming for Sunny Hills. “We were able to stop them just short of the goal line, so happy for that.”

Coming into the Lancers’ first Freeway League game of the season, Sunny Hills had a 2-4  during non-league play, facing strong opponents who were CIF playoff teams last season.

“Our game plan for today was to stop their running back, which I thought we did pretty well,” head coach David Wilde said after the game. “And, that didn’t really change throughout the game.”

The first quarter of the game ended without any points on the board for either team as the Lancers and the Tribe found themselves stuck at three-and-outs each time either team had the ball.

The Tribe then scored the first points of the game within the first minute of the second quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run by running back junior Deshawn Cobbs.

With 2:10 left on the clock before halftime, Lancer running backs seniors Nathan Lee and Brian Singleton charged through the offense, allowing running back junior Johnny Ramirez to run the ball in for a 4-yard touchdown.

Within the next minute, Ramirez – playing running back – intercepted a pass from Fullerton’s quarterback, giving the Lancers possession of the ball once again, but Sunny Hills could not score before time ran out in the first half.

“Offensively, we made some mistakes, and it made it hard for us to drive that ball down the field,” Wilde said. “And then we got that interception and we were in field goal range. Mathias [Brown] is usually money, but he missed that so that made the game a little bit more interesting.”

In the third quarter, the Lancers maintained possession of the ball until the Tribe intercepted a pass from quarterback junior Larry Alvarez in the end zone. The Tribe could not capitalize on the turnover as Fullerton punted the ball back to the Lancers.

Back-to-back punts from both teams led to a slow flow to the fourth quarter until tight end sophomore William Brown caught an interception at the Tribe’s 40-yard line with six minutes left in the game.

With the ball on second and six, fullback junior Kaito Inoue ran enough yards to give the Lancers a fresh set of downs. After Ramirez rushed for third and seven, Inoue ran three yards to give the Lancers their second touchdown of the game, leading 14-6.

We made a lot of mistakes offensively, missed blocks, but our guys just kept grinding, and we got the ball in the end zone when we needed to.”

— David Wilde

“Coach was telling me that I’m going to get the ball a lot,” Inoue said. “So, I knew I was going to score that touchdown, no matter what. 

The Tribe made huge advances with receptions from wide receiver junior Henry Pillon, who moved the ball to the SH seven yard line with 55 seconds left in the game.

The Tribe scored another touchdown with 46 seconds left in the game and chose to go for the win with a two-point conversion attempt; however, the two-point conversion fell short at the one yard line.

Wilde attributed the victory to the team’s steady work ethic.

“Our kids just never gave up,” he said. “We made a lot of mistakes offensively, missed blocks, but our guys just kept grinding, and we got the ball in the end zone when we needed to.”

The Lancers play the La Habra HighLanders Oct. 7 at La Habra High School.