Rancho Bernardo 42, San Marcos 10
Sometimes, a team just seems to have another’s number. Such appears to be a possible developing situation in the case of Rancho Bernardo and San Marcos, as the Broncos are headed to the Division II championship game at Southwestern College on the heels of their 42-10 blowout of the Knights Friday night.
While the Knights were in position to reach a divisional final for a second straight year, the Broncos — if one’s only stat for comparison’s sake was a team’s win-loss record — were in position for a complete about-face from 2013, a year in which Rancho Bernardo finished just 1-9. But surface-level stats are funny. They don’t always tell a complete picture.
The only team to suffer defeat at the hands of the Broncos last year was the San Marcos Knights. But it wasn’t just a loss. It was a rout, with a final score in favor of the Broncos of 31-0. Sound sort of familiar? While those numbers alone could make a casual observer think of words and phrases like “fluke,” “luck” or “180-degree turnaround,” a closer comparison of 2013 and 2014 could yield something deeper, such as the idea that maybe Rancho Bernardo wasn’t all that bad last year, and that maybe the Broncos’ single 2013 win was a sign of greater things, both in terms of their match-up specifically against San Marcos and of what was to come this year overall.
That win last year for the Broncos came after they had lost their first four games. San Marcos would eventually go on to the Division III championship game. But what those two points don’t tell is that only three of the Broncos’ nine losses were decided by seven or more points. Five of those losses, in fact, were decided by three or fewer points; three were decided by exactly three points, while one was decided by two points and another by just one.
“Coming off that 1-9 season, these boys wanted it,” Rancho Bernardo’s sophomore running back Milan Grice said after Friday’s upset over San Marcos. “The brothers, they worked hard.”
Even Knights Coach Jason Texler noted earlier in the week how close the Broncos were to victory so many times in 2013.
“Last year, I didn’t like how we matched up,” Texler said, “even though we had played them the year before and I had seen them the last couple of years. It’s gonna be a really tough game, because they’re well-coached, they’re very sound and they’re athletic.”
A year after trouncing the Knights in their only win a year ago, the Broncos again blew them out — this time when it mattered.
Broncos quarterback Tucker Reed threw three touchdown passes, while running back Anthony Barnum had two rushing scores and Grice had another. Grice’s 20-yard score in the first quarter opened the gates for the Broncos, who would go on to build a 21-0 first quarter lead. Reed showed calm under pressure as that lead was built, recovering from a fumbled snap to find receiver Kameron Calhoun for a 30-yard score. Before the quarter was over, Reed again found the end zone on a 17-yard pass to Devin Goodlow.
Unable to find the end zone until late in the game, the Knights managed only three points through the first three quarters, coming on a 35-yard field goal from kicker Jon Diaz in the second quarter. San Marcos wasn’t without opportunity. Later in the quarter, the Knights were inside the Broncos’ 20-yard-line and driving forward. But their hopes for a score were dashed when a Will Freed pass into the end zone was snagged at the goal line by Rancho Bernardo defensive back Nathan Powell, who turned the pass around for a 35-yard return and a new Broncos possession. Rancho Bernardo went on to score on that drive, on a 35-yard Barnum run, to go up by a score of 28-3.
The Broncos widened their lead in the third on another Barnum score before giving up their only touchdown — a 1-yard rushing score from San Marcos running back Semaj Wren. Rancho Bernardo receiver Dylan Cabrera capped the Broncos’ offense on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Reed later in the quarter.
Now 10-game winners in 2014, the Broncos have a chance next week to add to their story of turnaround, or, if you prefer, their story of proving what they might have been capable of each of the last two seasons, win-loss records aside. They’ll face in the finals the undefeated El Capitan Vaqueros — the division’s top seed and a top-20 squad in state rankings. The two teams will meet at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at Southwestern College in Chula Vista.