By Jon D. Gaede, BVN Staff –
Redlands - At 5-0, Redlands East Valley has been seeded at the top of most county high school football polls. These rankings don’t mean much when taking on a traditional powerhouse like Mission Viejo of South Orange County.
On Friday night, the Wildcats held off the the Diablos in a classic defensive battle, 10-7.
They became the first San Bernardino County team to beat Mission Viejo in twelve years.
The Diablos, most recently known for producing former USC and now New York Jet quarterback Mark Sanchez, came to the Inland Empire ranked as high as number three in the state and expecting to win.
The Wildcats benefitted from good fortune as a punt by Brian Sanchez bounced off a Diablo player and was pounced on by a Wildcat special team player, to take a 10-0 lead at halftime.
Mission Viejo may not have anticipated a relentless Wildcat defense that has only allowed 19 points all year. That defense shut down every Diablo drive, but one second half touchdown. The Wildcat defense would be tested as they led 10-7 in the fourth quarter.
Diablo quarterback Alex Bridgford, a tall lanky lefty, would launch several passes into the Wildcat secondary in that fourth quarter. REV’s offense managed only 170 yards on the night, so their defense would have to come up big.
The Wildcat defenders repelled several Bridgford passes over four late possessions. Wildcat defender Stefen Kirkland tipped a ball that was intercepted by Trevor Douglass. Unable to get a first down, REV punted to give the Diablos one last chance. On fourth down, with no timeouts remaining, Bridgford launched a desperation pass that fell incomplete into the end zone. The victory was complete.
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