It was no secret.
Players, coaches and fans knew the magnitude of the game. And why wouldn’t they.
A win by Independence would give it the South Yosemite League title outright. On the other hand, a victory by Ridgeview would give it a piece of the league title pie along with the Falcons.
The Wolf Pack’s Ruben Cruz and Justin Hinzo said, “I don’t think so.”
Cruz rushed for two touchdowns and Hinzo threw for two more as Ridgeview shared the league title with Independence by defeating the Falcons in a 35-14 laugher, Friday on Senior Night at Ridgeview High School.
“This was a pretty big win. We wanted to go 5-0 in league, but we’ll take this. This win will prepare us for playoffs,” said Cruz. “I thought we played pretty well, but I think we’re so much better. We’re going to use this as momentum going into next week. I’m so pleased with everyone on this team. They’re such great teammates.”
Independence (7-3, 4-1) got all the way down to Ridgeview’s 1-yard line, however, fumbled and the Wolf Pack (6-4, 4-1) took over deep in their own territory.
Ten plays and 99 yards later, Ridgeview got on the board after Hinzo connected with Daelin Degraffenreid in the corner of the end zone from 32 yards out giving the Wolf Pack a 7-0 lead.
The Falcons tied the score following a 48-yard touchdown run by Armani Denweed. That would be the main extent of the offense for Independence, which will open the playoffs on Thursday as well.
With the score tied 7-7, the Wolf Pack got all the way down to the Falcons’ 2-yard line. Instead of opting for a field goal, Ridgeview went for it and the gamble paid off as Cruz rumbled his way into the end zone, putting the Wolf Pack up 14-7.
“I thought our defense played really well. This was probably the best defensive performance we’ve had all season,” Ridgeview head coach Dennis Manning said. “Our offense didn’t get going until the second half and it was slow coming together. We’re just excited moving forward and we want to play for (at least) another week.”
Ridgeview had a scoring barrage in the third quarter. Ridgeview took over on Independence’s 41-yard line following an 18-yard punt. Later in the drive, Cruz took the handoff, eluded a couple of tacklers, tiptoed up the sideline and danced his way into the end zone from 23 yards out giving the Wolf Pack a 21-7 lead.
Later in the quarter Ridgeview’s Eddie Jackson intercepted a pass from Sergio Borreli and scampered into the end zone for a 34-yard pick-six, extending the lead.
Hinzo then connected with Chris Thompson on a short screen pass and Thompson did the rest as he scored from 54 yards out which capped a 21-point third quarter for the Wolf Pack.
The Falcons’ Malik Delouth rushed for 115 yards on only eight carries, but Independence really couldn’t get anything going offensively.