Prep Impressions: Week 13

I covered the San Bernardino San Gorgonio-Riverside Norte Vista CIF-Southern Section Eastern Division semifinal round game on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, for The Press-Enterprise and HSGametime.com, and came away thinking the Braves are riding a wave.

Norte Vista (5-8 overall) has not lost on the field since Week 1, nor has it lost since it forfeited seven victories and its River Valley League title. That’s a string of nine consecutive on-field victories before self-reporting a ineligible player violation to CIF, and three since in the 2013 postseason.

Has adversity cemented the foundation of this team into one that can meet any challenge placed in front of it this season?

It did on Friday night when senior receiver Victor Gonzalez made a leaping grab of an pass from a little-used halfback making his only significant contribution to the game.

And why not? Norte Vista is playing with house money anyway. They could have been forced to sit out the playoffs. They could have recused themselves from the postseason. But neither of those things happened and the Braves are moving on to play in the CIF-Southern Section Eastern Division championship game vs. Perris Citrus Hill — the defending division champion — next week.

And the game is at home! What luck.

San Gorgonio coach Ron Gueringer:
“First congratulate Norte Vista. They did a great job. They outplayed us and they deserved to win the game. We stop that play and its fourth down and who knows? It happens and what can you do? The level of disappointment is huge. We wanted to go to the championship but you’ve got to give NoVi all the credit in the world. They made plays and we didn’t. It was a hell of a football game. It’s sad that somebody had to lose and we lost. We just kind of stayed with our game plan. We forced the into 3rd-and-12, and they throw the halfback pass. We’re waiting for it and it came out that the kid made a hell of a play. That’s what it came down to. Their guy made a hell of a play against our guy who’s a pretty good football player and they won the game.”

Norte Vista coach Ken Batdorf:
“It was great coverage. Vic (Hernandez) had been playing exceptionally well in the game and he just made a great catch. He’s got 1,100 yards receiving this year and now you know why. We knew it was going to be incredibly tough to stop them. (Tahir Rasheed-Mills) is phenomenal, back and receivers are all great. We knew we were in a dogfight. We were trying to bend but not break. We were trying to contain him. We made the plays that we had to make. We ran five different defenses tonight to try to confuse him and try to keep him off balance but give them a lot of credit — they still scored a hell of a lot of points, and to the very end my heart was pounding. They’re a great football team and we had a great football game. Hopefully we can do something with this. We talk about adversity and we try to compare football to life. We had to overcome adversity and we tell our kids ‘It’s tough. It hurts. But when your wife’s mad at you, your kid’s crying and it’s 2 in the morning, what are you going to do? Do the right thing.’ Hopefully, all the adversity that we’ve gone through has not only made us a better football team but better people. That’s what we’re trying to teach. Right now I’m just going to take (the win) and relax. We have to realize we do some things really well. I know Citrus Hill’s an outstanding football team. Someone told me their outrageous score. We have our hands full. We know that. But we’re a great football team and we just have to do what we do. Let the chips play where the lie. We played well tonight, hopefully we can show up and play well against Citrus Hill.”

Norte Vista senior Freddy Jolley:
“We just had the mindset that we weren’t going to lose. That’s what we do on Wednesdays — mindset days — we stay after and condition and work. Their quarterback is really good but we had to execute. That’s our mindset on offense: work hard than everybody else. Outwork them and we’re going to be successful. It’s all mental. It was pretty tough but honestly that’s what’s made us tough right now. We’re getting a ring. We’ve been through too much in this season already. We already know. It’s time to go.”

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