For the first time in five years, the longstanding crosstown rivalry of Delano and Cesar Chavez High School was put to the test. And it went down in what may have been the greatest game in the history of football in the city of Delano.
Great games are remembered because they come down to the wire.
With 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the game tied 20-20, it looked as if Chavez was about to pull off an upset tie against the hyped-up Tigers. There was no possibility of overtime for the two teams because they are in separate leagues.
Delano had to turn to a trick play specially designed for this exact situation. Delano would snap the ball and hand it off to wing back Nicholas Marin, who would then pitch it to receiver Rafael Salas who would then pitch it back to quarterback Fernie Ferrel.
Ferrel would then throw a bullet back to Marin who evaded a confused Chavez defense and ran an amazing 65 yards down the field as time expired for Delano to win the game at the buzzer.
A walk-off touchdown.
Chaos ensued as Delano fans and players alike celebrated on the field. Delano had just completed a 20-point comeback in the final 12 minutes to beat its longtime rival in what most likely will go down as one of the best games in Delano city football history.
The game featured a Delano team fresh off its first winning season in five years playing against the seemingly overmatched Cesar Chavez Titans who were thought to be recovering from the school’s first 0-10 season. Nonetheless, this game has seemingly marked a turning point in Chavez football. So much so that it can impact the team’s season as a whole.
The game began with Chavez kicking off to Delano. The Tigers started the game hot, with multiple first-down runs from running back Brandyn Perez. Delano marched its way to the red zone until penalties set them back and ultimately forced the Tigers to try a field goal they would miss.
This gave the ball to the Titans on their own 20-yard line. Leading the charge for CCHS was quarterback Cameron Huerta and running back Elijah Rangel.
Rangel would start the game hot with multiple long runs during the first drive. Chavez would march all the way to the Delano goal line until the Tiger linebacker Ivan Zapata forced a fumble from a Chavez receiver that resulted in a touchback, giving the ball back to Delano.
DHS took the momentum of the game and ran, with its first offensive play being a 30-yard run. Delano would pick up a couple more first downs before quarterback Ferrel threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to receiver Rafael Salas. After a missed point-after attempt, Delano would go up 6-0 on Chavez.
With the momentum swinging in favor of Delano. Rangel and Huerta took matters into their own hands. Chavez would run its way downfield off of big gains from Huerta and Rangel alike. Huerta would convert a crucial third-down pass to receiver Carlos Macias for 20 yards and go on to score Chavez’s first touchdown. Delano and Chavez would then trade possession until the first half came to an end with the game tied 6-6.
The beginning of the second half was all Chavez. Even though they were stopped by the Delano defense on their first drive, they would capitalize on a Delano fumble by returning it for a touchdown and taking a 12-6 lead. The next possession would result in a Delano interception and Chavez scoring on a 19-yard Huerta touchdown pass to Macias.
At this point, the Delano offense flipped a switch, forcing the team to lock in on their dire situation.
Team leaders running back Sergio Gonzalez and Ferrel would step up and lead the charge as Delano marched down the field and scored on a quarterback sneak.
As the third quarter came to an end, Chavez had stunned everyone and was leading 20-12. But the fourth quarter would be the Tigers’.
Delano’s defense stopped Chavez and forced a punt. The Tigers offense would drive downfield but could not finish after multiple penalties forced them into a tough situation where they would turn the ball over.
Chavez would try to run out the clock but a late turnover proved costly for the Titans. Delano used the turnover to launch their ticket to the end zone and tie the game at 20-20 with 3:33 left in the game.
The Titans got the ball back and took to the air. Huerta got the team down to the Tigers’ 35-yard line. But a couple of incompletions forced Chavez to turn the ball over on downs with 11 seconds left in the game.