Photos by Mona Fowler
By Brian Reed-Baiotto, Sports Editor
Northview’s historic 2021 season came to an end on Saturday night, and some 400 miles from home.
The Vikings fell, 48-29, to Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep in the CIF State Division 4A title game at Kezar Stadium.
And while NHS did head back to Covina disappointed they didn’t close out the year with a state title, the history made, the hurdles leapt, and the way in which they competed and carried themselves against a bigger and more talented Fightin’ Irish program, was a remarkable sight to see on a cold San Francisco night.
Northview got out to a 6-0 lead on the first drive of the game.
Ronal Tebo Jr. followed his 70-yard run from scrimmage, with a 1-yard TD.
Bruce Uperesa, who was easily the game’s most explosive athlete, got SHCP even on a 55-yard TD run.
NHS and SHCP would land punch after punch, but the Fightin’ Irish were finally able to wear the Vikings down late in the second half to win their first state title in school history.
On a number of occasions, SHCP took double-digit leads and thought they had put the Vikings to bed, but each time, this proud group of athletes from Northview fought back.
Trailing 20-6 in the second quarter, Northview would catch the Fightin’ Irish.
James Arellanes hit Erik Saiz on a 14-yard TD pass to get the Vikings to within 20-13.
Cheo Medina got Northview even at 20-20, when he took a Steven Carlin pass 49 yards for a TD, and he did so with some nifty footwork.
With the momentum clearly on their side after Medina’s score, and with less than two minutes to go in the first half, SHCP showed yet again that they can strike at any time and from anywhere on the field.
SHCP quarterback Ray-John Spears’ 29-yard TD pass to Isaiah Keishk just before the half, which was capped by a 35-yard extra-point conversion after one of the many personal fouls against the Fightin’ Irish, gave SHCP a 27-20 halftime lead.
SCHP would score on the first drive of the second half and they never trailed again.
Spears completed 15 of his 22 pass attempts for just north of 300 yards and five TD’s.
Uperesa caught four passes for 104 yards and one receiving TD, and that doesn’t include a 72-yard TD catch-and-run that got called back.
Saiz, one of Northview’s most underrated studs, scored his second TD of the game on a 60-yard sprint in the second half, and Joseph Gutierrez booted a 25-yard field goal to account for the final Vikings’ points of the night.
Medina finished the night with 45 yards rushing on 18 carries.
The Northview running back finished a stellar senior season with 1,891 yards on the ground.
Medina also tallied 90 receiving yards on Saturday.
As mentioned early on, the Vikings not reacting to taunts or late hits is a credit to the program, including the players, coaches and their families.
What one is able to see and hear on the sidelines of a football game is a vastly different experience than even that of the fans in attendance.
And having done this job for 22 years, it was moving to say the least, in watching the Northview players rally together after big SHCP plays and not panic or place blame upon one another.
The discipline to walk away from potential trouble really emphasized just how much they mean to one another.
And lastly, if you needed any additional evidence that this program is a family, here’s the clincher.
The Northview players woke up Sunday morning after a title-game loss in cold and rainy San Francisco, and the easiest and most convenient and comfortable way to get home would have been to hop in their parents’ cars for the 400-mile trip back to Covina.
But not these guys.
This 62-man roster requested one final ride together, and their wish was granted.
Northview ends the 2021 season as the second CIF-SS champions in school history, and the first-ever to win a CIF State Southern California Regional.
Northview quarterback, James Arellanes: “It was a tough game. We came out confident in our ability to play with a team like this who’s bigger and faster, but it didn’t end up going the way we wanted. They were a really well-coached team, and we made some mistakes, but you win some and lose some. We really wanted this win one, but we have to move forward and start working for next year, because now we have even higher expectations than before. We have a lot to be proud of this year. We made history and brought our school something they’ve been waiting decades for. All of our coaches and players really deserved this after all the adversity we’ve faced as a program. After all the Covid stuff from the last year and a half, our community needed something to feel good about, and I’m glad we got to give that to them. We’re really going to miss this senior class. They’re a special group of guys and they’ve been great leaders all year long. I’m glad we got to send them out as history makers.”
Records: Northview (9-7); Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep (8-7)
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