Fallbrook Warriors 46, Hilltop Lancers 6
The Fallbrook Warriors’ next stop in the San Diego Section’s Division III playoffs is Mission Bay, as the Warriors soundly defeated the visiting Hilltop Lancers 46-6 Friday night.
Fallbrook (7-4) wasted no time establishing its dominance in this first-round match up, taking an early 7-0 lead on a 98-yard dash from Parker Martin that finished in the end zone early in the first quarter. Martin would score two more times before the game was through.
Standout performances were spread across the Warriors’ roster. Senior running back Bryce Olivo finished with one fumble recovery and one touchdown, while junior Kobe Stallings would have two touchdowns of his own. Another fumble recovery came in the third quarter, when, on the kickoff following Olivo’s 26-yard touchdown, Hilltop’s Cristian Llanes lost his handle on the return, with Fallbrook’s Austin Perona there to snatch it up.
That set up Stalling for his second touchdown and a 33-0 Fallbrook lead.
With the win, Fallbrook earned its first playoff victory since defeating Mira Mesa in 2008. And it came much like most of Fallbrook’s wins at home have this season: big.
Fallbrook entered the game riding three straight wins, in which they’d scored a total of 111 points — including 69 against Orange Glen in Fallbrook. Winners of four of their six home games, the Warriors had scored fewer than 21 points in just one of those six, and scored 47 or more points in three of them.
Add another high score to the list.
The Lancers (5-6) came in looking for some playoff success after missing the postseason altogether a year ago. They now travel back to Chula Vista, while the Warriors await the Mission Bay Buccaneers, who, as the No. 2 seed in the bracket, will have home field advantage in the division’s second playoff round.
With its 3-1 record against Valley League opponents, the Fallbrook Warriors secured during the regular season a share of the league’s title with the Valley Center Jaguars, setting the Warriors up as the higher seed and host in this Friday’s Division III opening round playoff game against the Hilltop Lancers, who finished second in the Metro –South Bay League behind Mater Dei Catholic.
On opposite ends of the county, these two teams have virtually no history playing each other. The lack of past head-to-head competition puts at the forefront of this match-up each of the teams’ recent histories, from their successes this season to their recent playoff appearances.
Fallbrook (6-4, 3-1) enters this Friday’s game as the slight favorite, seeded No. 7 vs. the No. 10 seeding earned by Hilltop (5-5, 2-1). Both teams will enter the postseason on the heels of strong regular season finishes. The Warriors are riding three straight wins, in which they’ve scored a total of 111 points — including 69 against the Orange Glen Patriots — while the Lancers have showed resolve and blowout potential in two straight wins, with their Week 10 double-overtime victory against Mar Vista and their 35-0 win in Week 11 against Sweetwater.
Hilltop running back Angel Pineda will challenge Fallbrook’s maturing defense, having scored four times against Sweetwater a week ago. In Fallbrook’s 21-6 win last week against Del Norte, the Warriors’ defense allowed just 138 rushing yards between three running backs, though it also allowed 247 yards via the pass.
A 2-8 team a year ago, the Lancers’ last playoff appearance was in 2013, when they went two games deep into the Division III tournament, losing in the second round to Christian High School. The Warriors, meanwhile, claimed last year their first league title in more than 10 years, going on to lose, however, in the first round of the 2014 Division III tournament.
Friday’s game will see Hilltop put on the line its impressive 4-0 record on the road this season. Fallbrook has won four of its six home games, scored fewer than 21 points in just one of those six — in a 42-0 blowout loss to San Marcos in September, and scored 47 or more points in three of them.
The Warriors and Lancers are scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. Friday. Highlights from the game and all other playoff games across the county can be seen starting at 10:30 p.m. Friday on the KUSI Prep Pigskin Report.