The Ramona Bulldog football team earned the second seed in The CIF Division III playoffs for the second consecutive year. The Bulldogs finished the season with an 8-2 record.
It was the second straight year the Dawgs have registered eight wins. The Dawgs finished the 2008 regular season with an 8-1-1.
The Bulldogs have advanced to the quarterfinals of the playoffs every year that Coach Damon Baldwin has been at the helm. In Baldwin’s first season, Ramona won the Valley League and beat Mt. Miguel in the first round of the playoffs. In the last four seasons, the Bulldogs have been seeded in the top four in the CIF playoffs.
Counting the Kickoff Classic, the Bulldogs have played 10 teams that have reached the playoffs. The Bulldogs have an 8-2 record against playoff teams this season.
Poway is the only team that the Dawgs played that did not advance to the playoffs. Five of Ramona’s opponents have winning records. Losses to Ramona cost three teams from having winning records.
Ramona will play the winner of the San Marcos-Steele Canyon game at home on Friday, Nov. 27, at the Dawg Pound.
The Bulldogs have a history with both teams. San Marcos and Ramona have been battling since the two schools have been in existence. San Marcos hung one of the most painful losses in Bulldog history during the Jack Menotti era. Menotti and the Dawgs got revenge when they were the only team to beat the Knights in their CIF championship campaign.
Steele Canyon beat the Bulldogs during the Billy Clark years in the playoffs at Helix High School. Last year the Cougars upset the Dawgs at home in the quarterfinals.
Either team will be a formidable opponent.
“San Marcos is much improved,” said Baldwin. “They have a new coach and he runs an option offense. It takes time to learn that offense and they were still learning it when we met them earlier this season. Steele Canyon upset us last season in the Dawg Pound. We have a score to settle with them. We have not lost in the Dawg Pound this season, and our home crowd will definitely be a big asset for us.”
San Marcos is the only team the Dawgs can face that they played this season unless they get to the finals. Point Loma, Hoover and Mt. Miguel are in the Bulldogs bracket. El Capitan and Serra, two teams that the Bulldogs beat in non-league play, are in the upper bracket with Cathedral Catholic, Monte Vista, Saint Augustine and Brawley.
No team in Division III is undefeated. Cathedral Catholic is the only team with a better record than Ramona. The Dons are 9-1. Lincoln came from behind to beat them in western League play.
The Dons are the defending CIF and state champions. Cathedral Catholic has beaten Ramona the past two times that they faced each other, in the quarterfinals during Baldwin’s first year at the helm and in the semifinals during Billy Clark’s tenure when they were still University of San Diego High School.
Ramona has made it to the semifinals two times since moving out of the small school division in 1974. They lost to eventual CIF and state champion El Camino and to Cathedral when they were University of San Diego High School.
Anything can, will and usually does happen in the playoffs. Ramona has upset Helix and put a scare into Helix with Reggie Bush and Alex Smith and lost by 1 point when a 2-point conversion attempt failed. The Dawgs upset Crawford when Mel Galli was at the helm.
In Ramona’s past three trips to the playoffs, the Bulldogs have lost by 1 point on the last play of the game. In 2006 they lost to Valhalla when the Norsemen were attempting to kick a tying PAT. A bad snap forced the holder to run for a 2-pointer. Film shows that he did not reach the end zone, but the officials’ hands did go up and Ramona lost.
Mt. Miguel beat the Dawgs by 1 point on the last play in 2007. Steele Canyon won on the last play last season by one point.
“We will take advantage of the bye week and bounce back,” said Baldwin who has not gotten a Thanksgiving off since he has been in Ramona.
Ramona has already had its 1-point upset in Valley Center. “The times they are a changin’.”
Enjoy Thanksgiving. Have a turkey sandwich for lunch on Friday, Nov. 27, and have Kevin Hemphill’s snack bar cuisine for dinner. Get to the Dawg Pound early, but don’t leave early.