By Bill Tamburrino
Winning is important, but there are more important things than winning football games.
Last Friday Ramona lost a football game at Oceanside 21-17 but in doing so they won respect.
The Bulldogs were huge underdogs in the game. Oceanside held a 23-1-1 advantage in the series and has become a perennial power not only in the San Diego Section but in the state. The Pirates entered the game ranked fourth in the San Diego Section and Ramona entered the game as the fifth team in the five team Palomar League.
All of the rankings and prior accolades went out the window on the opening kickoff. Ramona served notice that they came to play football.
Javier Dominguez returned the opening kickoff for an apparent 95-yard touchdown but the play was nullified by a penalty. So instead of a quick score Ramona settled for a 16 play 77 yard that ate up seven
minutes and six seconds off the clock.
Kirk Kaliszewski was the workhorse on the drive that ended with a Kaliszewski 7-yard touchdown run. Ali Aparicio added the PAT and the Dawgs led 7-0.
The Bulldog defense forced the Pirates to a three-and-out and the Dawgs again mounted a time-consuming seven-play drive that ended with an Aparicio 24-yard field goal and a 10-0 Bulldog lead.
Bulldog Coach Stefon Pace’s defense again forced the Pirates to punt after three plays and the Dawg offense mounted a 12-play 59-yard drive that ended with a Kaliszewski 3-yard touchdown and Ramona had a 17-0 lead on the defending CIF champions.
During the first three drives, Ramona’s offensive line completely controlled the line of scrimmage. Connor Guasti, Ivan Rodriguez, Luke Papps, Eric Box, Kwayde Miller and tight ends Christian Drews, Daniel VanTol and Chris Lindquist consistently knocked the much bigger Pirates off the ball and gave Hunter McHargue time to throw passes.
Kaliszewski led all rushers with 165 yards on 38 carries. McHargue hit Jason Laws, Drews and Keyanis Crichlow with two passes each and also connected with Robbie Farren as he threw for 93 yards.
The defense was special, too. Elias Jauregui and Christian Drews led the team with five tackles apiece. Drews also had a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter that stopped the Pirates from scoring and gave the Dawgs a chance at a victory.
Kaliszewski had two special teams tackles and a sack as he seldom came off the field. Dominquez, Keyanis Crichlow, Robbie Farren and Alec Ghareeb played soundly in the secondary.
Ironically Ramona’s good pass defense cost the team the game. What turned out to be the difference in the game was the scrambling ability of Oceanside’s quarterback, Tofi Paopao. On eight occasions, Paopao found all of his receivers covered by the Bulldog defense and he was forced to run the ball. In doing so he led the Pirates in rushing and scored the winning touchdown on a scramble with 1:54 left on the clock.
Paopao’s scrambling was instrumental in the Pirates three touchdown drives.
Oceanside had nothing but praise for the Bulldogs and their staff.
“You coaching staff put together a great game plan and more importantly your kids executed it,” said said Oceanside Athletic Director Dave Barrett. “I know that they are disappointed, but they should also be proud of their effort.”
“Those kids fought for 48 minutes,” said Oceanside Coach John Carroll. “They are a well-coached and tough bunch. They did a great job.”
Ramona Coach Baldwin was somber when he addressed his team after the game.
“This hurts,” he said. “You did a great job for three quarters. You just proved that you play football against one of the best programs in the county. They have won seven CIF championships, and you almost beat them in their house. We have to build off of this.
“We can and will win the next three games. We have to play all four quarters like we played the first three quarters tonight, and we will win our next four games.”
Ramona travels to Torrey Pines on Friday. Varsity kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Get there early for the 4:30 junior varsity game, because parking will be difficult for Torrey Pine’s homecoming.