Ramona Bulldogs come from behind to beat No. 2-ranked Helix High
By Bill Tamburrino
“Where does this win rank?!”
That sounded more like an exclamatory statement than a question. But when Head Football Coach Damon Baldwin repeated it, it became a question.
Baldwin was asking about Ramona’s come from behind 10-6 upset win over Helix High School. Max Preps had Helix ranked 100th in the nation, 19th in the state and second in the section.
“When we beat Saints they were No. 2 in the CIF,” said Baldwin. (Helix was No. 3 in one poll and two in another).
Helix has won state championships, and has a Heisman Trophy winner and a first round NFL draft selection who are still playing — Reggie Bush and Alex Smith played against RHS. Helix has also sent numerous players to college and the NFL. And Helix has a 1-2 lifetime record against RHS. Coach Billy Clark was the head coach in the two other games against Helix.
“They were playoff games and we were the underdogs in both games so they were played at Helix. Those two games were about offense or who could score the most points. Last night was all about defense. Ramona played the best defense I have ever seen us play,” Clark said on Saturday.
Coach Stefon Pace put together a defensive game plan that his players executed with a tenacious aggression that brought the crowd to its feet on numerous occasions. One didn’t have to see most of the tackles; they could be heard.
Helix earned its rankings. It is a team with much talent and speed. It has played a national schedule competing against Punahou High School, Hawaii’s No. 1 team and the 22nd team in the nation, and Northridge, a ranked team from Utah.
The Highlanders score points and can run and pass the ball or could until Friday night. Ramona held Helix to minus 30 yards rushing and 19 total yards in the first half. Pace sent linebackers, corners, and safeties and they all made tackles for losses.
Travis Kerchner, Christian Drews, T-Bone Williams, Dallas Domnitz, Ben Barnat and Patrick Hastings all had sacks in the first half. Garrett Binkley recovered a fumble. Nathan Cherek and Tanner Williams made several big plays on passes.
After 24 minutes of action defense, Ramona led 3-0 on a 32-yard Tyler Vargas field goal. Vargas had another field goal attempt ruled wide left at the end of the half that was close enough to argue about.
Momentum changed after intermission. Helix took the kickoff and marched down the field. Again Pace’s defense rose to the occasion. Garrett Dart made an acrobatic interception in the end zone to stop the drive.
Helix’s defense forced a Bulldog punt and had great field possession at midfield. Pace sent defensive back Christian Dominquez on a stunt and he recorded a sack for a loss of 13 yards to stall another drive.
Ramona got its ground game going in the third quarter but Helix forced a fumble and recovered on its own 30 yard line when it appeared that Ramona had re-taken the momentum.
The Highlanders drove 70 yards and scored on the first play of the final quarter to take a 6-3 lead with 11:53 left on the clock.
It was gut check time for the Bulldog offense. Drews, T-Bone Williams and Matt Lawler joined up with the offensive line of Hastings, Mike Hoover, Trae Rodriguez, William Rieve and Raul Briseno and blocked to put together a physical 80 yard drive. Ramona appeared to be stopped for a three and out, but Baldwin elected to let his line get a yard for Marco Cobian on a fourth and one on the Ramona 29 yard line. Ramona had to convert on several third and longs during the drive but each time the Dawgs’ line opened a hole or gave Cobian time to throw. The big play of the drive was a 33-yard Cobian to Binkley screen middle pass.
Brandon Gansch went the final six yards for a touchdown through a huge hole opened by the Bulldog blockers with 3:53 left in the game.
T-Bone Williams sparked the defense with a sack and Helix tossed a fourth down desperation pass that Binkley intercepted with 2:33 left in the game.
Ramona ran four running plays to take time off of the clock.
“Helix has blocked five punts this year. We didn’t want to give them field position or a cheap score so we ran the ball on fourth down instead of punting. The way our defense was playing I liked our chances on a one play shot,” said Baldwin.
Helix got the ball back with 17 seconds left in the game. After spiking the ball to set up one final play, Helix threw a long pass and, instead of sacking the quarterback, Kerchner dropped into coverage and ended the game with an interception. Last week Baldwin said Kerchner plays like a warrior.
“This win was about defense but we played enough offense to win. Marco (Cobian) played a complete game. He hit on some key passes, scrambled when the receivers were covered and did what it took for us to win. He didn’t lose his composure when he was sacked. That was a good defense he was seeing and he hung in there,” said Baldwin.
Cobian hit on 13 of 20 passes for 139 yards with no interceptions. He also had two rushes for six yards. Tanner Williams was on the receiving end of four passes for 39 yards. Binkley had three grabs for 45 yards. Lawler and Drews had two catches apiece. Kerchner had one catch for 19 yards and Justin Villagrana had one reception.
Gansch led the Bulldogs with 16 carries for 45 yards. Cherek rushed nine times for 35 yards. T-Bone Williams had three carries to go with his lead blocking assignments.
This week the Dawgs have a bye. They will return to the Dawg Pound on Oct. 11 for their homecoming game against Rancho Bernardo High School.
- Ramona Bulldogs beat El Camino, fourth win against a DI team
- Ramona Bulldogs hand Grossmont High a 52-22 whupping
- Bulldogs beat Point Loma, 21-19, in a white-knuckler, face Grossmont Friday
- Hornets beat Bulldogs for Division III CIF football championship
- Bulldogs come from behind to beat Morse
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