By BILL TAMBURRINO
Ramona High will host its “first ever” CIF Semifinal Football Playoff game in the Dawg Pound, 1401 Hanson Lane, Friday at 7 p.m., said Coach Damon Baldwin, noting that Ramona has not been to the CIF Championship game in football since 1970.
Advance tickets will be sold from 4-6 p.m., Nov. 22, at the stadium Ticket Booth by the entrance to the stadium. CIF ticket prices are $11 for adults and $7 for seniors and students. No passes except CIF passes will be accepted.
Gates will open at 5:30 p.m. Ramona faces Serra High in the Nov. 23 game for the chance to go to the Division III CIF Championship game at Escondido High School.
Ramona High beat the West Hills Wolverines, 41-14, in the CIF quarterfinal game game on Nov. 16.
The Bulldogs completely dominated the first quarter. After the Bulldog defense forced West Hills to a three and out on their opening possession, the Bulldog offense drove 59 yards to score on a 19-yard strike from Hunter McHargue to Matt Lawler. Tyler Vargas added the PAT, his first of five, and the Dawgs were on their way to the 41-14 victory.
On the Wolverines second possession, the Bulldog D again forced a three and out and the offense drove 41 yards to take a 14-0 advantage on a McHargue to Javier Dominguez 30-yard pass. That play and several others will be heard on KUSI-TV on Friday as the Prep Pigskin Report had Dominguez wired for sound in the game. Besides two touchdowns, the TV audience will hear some vicious hits that Dominguez put on ball carriers and receivers throughout the game.
Ramona became its own worst enemy in the second quarter as several penalties allowed West Hills to drive 80 yards for a score, and a Bulldog fumble set up another Wolverine score, making the game tied at 14.
With 2:43 left in the first half, the Dawgs took complete charge of the game. Nathan Cherek looked more like a greyhound than a bulldog. The junior running back took a McHargue hand-off and ran untouched through a tunnel opened by Anthony Moreno, Daniel Kemp, Josh Allen, Patrick Hastings, Christian Drews and William Rieve for an 80-yard score. Cherek ran wild for the rest of the night. He gained 254 yards on 18 carries and had several runs for big yardage nullified by penalties. He ended the night with three touchdowns.
Dominguez opened the second half with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and followed that with a 35-yard TD reception from McHargue. McHargue completed seven of 11 passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
The Dawgs continue to improve defensively and played their best game of the season. Brawnson Walter was the defensive player of the game as he led the Dawg D with nine tackles and five assists. Four of his tackles were for losses and he teamed up with Kemp for three sacks. He also forced West Hill’s only fumble which was ruled a team recovery.
“I saw a clear path to the quarterback. When I got to him I saw the ball and swatted my hardest. It worked and the ball came loose. We work on that drill in practice and it paid off,” said Walter, who had arthroscopic surgery on his knee in week four has played himself back into shape.
Travis Kerchner and Garrett Binkley both registered six tackles apiece. Kerchner had two sacks, two assists and two tackles for losses and hit the quarterback three times. The Bulldog defense hit the Wolverine quarterback 12 times on the night and tackled Wolverine ball carriers for losses 16 times. The unit did more attacking than defending.
Zach Berg, Hastings, T-Bone Williams, Tanner Triplett, Keyshaun Crichlow, Christian and Javier Dominguez, Tanner Williams, and Brandon Kelderman all had multiple tackles in the game.
Several alumni from former Bulldog football teams attended the game.
“I can’t believe the positive response I am getting from social media sites, especially from former players,” said Baldwin. “Guys who made it to the semifinals in the past are rooting for us to get to the championship game. It was a great day to be a Bulldog. The players heard all of the comments about not being able to get past the quarterfinals and did something about it. The theories about the bye week hurting us in the past didn’t hold up this week. Several players had time to rest and recuperate and that really helped. We are in a lot better physical condition that we were earlier in the season.
“It will be the first time Ramona has ever hosted a semifinal game. We had a big crowd last Friday and I am thinking of importing more bleachers for this week’s game. We will have more grads and former players at the Serra game than we had at Homecoming. For the former Bulldogs it is another Homecoming,” said an elated Baldwin.
Serra has a 9-2 record and was the City League champions. Serra had a bye last week due to Cathedral Catholic’s forfeiture of games due to an eligibility issue. Serra beat Monte Vista 42-13 in the opening round of the playoffs.