Orange Glen Patriots 22, Holtville Vikings 7
For the first time in nearly three decades, the Orange Glen Patriots are headed to a championship, after the team handily defeated the visiting Holtville Vikings Friday in the semifinals of the San Diego Section Division V playoffs.
A slow first quarter in this one gave way to a slew of game-making plays starting in the second, most notably in Orange Glen’s nonstop turning to running back Cael Patterson for an injection of offensive power. Compiling yardage in play after play, Patterson not only scored twice in the game, but also amassed enough yardage to surpass 1,900 rushing yards on the season. His 12-yard touchdown in the second quarter opened scoring Friday, and his 9-yard running touchdown up the left in the fourth closed it out. In between, Julien Lesa’s interception and reversal of a red-zone pass attempt from Holtville’s Noah Jongeward provided a gem of a defensive highlight along with another touchdown for the Patriots.
The Vikings’ single shining moment came in the fourth quarter, when down 15-0, Jongeward tossed a pass deep and into crowded Patriots territory. After snagging the ball from the jaws of a potential interception, Vikings receiver Marvin Tamayo did the rest, gaining 34 yards after the catch and getting the Vikings on the board.
Following the Patriots’ final score, Holtville’s attempt at a late comeback failed when, with under 2 minutes to play, the Patriots’ Jeremiah Castro thwarted Jongeward’s plan for a pass attempt to Jose Devoux beyond midfield. Castro’s interception sealed the deal for this Patriots squad, giving the team something to cheer for that it hasn’t had since the early 1990’s: a division championship.
With Francis Parker prevailing over Tri City Christian in the division’s other semifinal, the Patriots will now face off against the Lancers next Friday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m.
Championship game in sight, both the Holtville Vikings and Orange Glen Patriots enter Week 14 and the the semifinals of the San Diego Section’s Division V playoffs on the heels of decisive wins in the week prior. For Holtville (9-2), this match-up represents a chance to win another D-V section title — the Vikings last won the title in 2013. For Orange Glen (7-3), which is slightly favored in this one with the top seed in the division bracket, it represents a chance to drastically change the perception of the school’s football program.
Orange Glen is now enjoying only its second winning season in 15 years. In all that time, the team — until now — has never won any more than six games, and it certainly has never advanced to a championship game. The Orange Glen Patriots may have a higher seeding than Holtville and may come from a bigger city than the Vikings — who hail from a small town outside El Centro — but it’s hard to imagine that this bunch of young men from Escondido isn’t sparkling with the type of hope usually reserved for the Davids of the world leading up to battle with Goliath. The Patriots simply don’t have this kind of experience.
But games like this are precisely why these boys play: to gain experience; to reach new heights.
So expect the potential for these teams to reach new heights, but plan for the ball to stay low in this one, as both the Vikings and Pats will likely turn to what’s worked for them through 2018: rushing. Orange Glen junior Cael Patterson has amassed more than 1,800 rushing yards on the season, while Holtville sophomore Jose Devoux has compiled more than 1,500.
And when it’s all said and done, don’t be surprised at the outcome. This one looks like it truly could go either way.