Monday, November 30, 2015 • 05:28

Jaguars shut out by Mission Hills in lopsided football loss

Photos by Ray Flores
September 26, 2013
Valley Center varsity football coach Rob Gilster is well known for his passion for the game and the way he expresses himself on the sideline on any given Friday night during the fall.

It's not difficult, most of the time, to know where you stand with Coach Gilster. Whether in jubilant celebration with his team or in a whirlwind of fury over a missed assignment on the field, Coach Gilster's piercing voice can almost always be heard above the noise of the game.

So it's certainly not without a fair amount of shock and concern among the Jaguars and their fans to have watched a silent, subdued Coach Gilster stalking the sidelines as his team turned in one of the worst losses in the program's history, a 45–0 drubbing on Friday night at the hands of Mission Hills, the No. 2-ranked team in the county.

"I don't know how else to say it — we were horrible," he said quietly as the stands slowly and sullenly emptied in front of him. "We're not very good, and when we play like that against one of the best teams in the county, that's what you're going to get."

Despite the obvious emotion of the moment, Coach Gilster conveyed the urgency of the situation to the Jaguars in their post-game huddle.

"They're a better team, no doubt, but you can't stop playing," he told the Jags. "You had a chance to play with them early, but you made a mistake, you let them believe that they're better than you, and then we started believing it too. Don't get me wrong, everybody was horrible, including the coaches. We've got to get better and we're going to work hard to fix it. But this should be a gut check for every man here. You've got to decide if you're going to be a team that lays down when the competition gets better, or if you're going to be the guy who makes a block, makes a tackle, or makes a catch for his team."

The statistics show only a portion of how ugly the game turned out. The Jaguars picked up only eight first downs in the entire game, as compared to the Grizzlies' seven scores that included six touchdowns and a field goal.

Valley Center gained only 101 yards of total offense, while Mission Hills racked up more than twice that number. The Jags passed for 91 yards and, counting the negative yardage from six quarterback sacks, they ran for only ten more yards. The Jaguars also turned the ball over three times — once on a blocked punt after the first series of the game, then on a fumble in the first quarter and finally on an interception that was returned for a touchdown in the third quarter.

The Valley Center defense showed some positive signs, as Jake Newman grabbed an interception in his own endzone and the Jags picked up three sacks.

But all told, the numbers added up to one of the most lopsided losses in school history, only comparable in recent history to a 45–7 loss the Jaguars suffered against Oceanside in the 2009 season.

"Is that even possible?" Coach Gilster said when asked if he could narrow the game down to one area of improvement he would focus on in practice this week. "We could have made it a game, but we had the punt blocked and that gave them seven points right out of the gate. Then we're running the ball and we fumble without even getting hit, and we just stopped playing. I don't know how else to say it. We were horrible."

The Jaguars took the opening kickoff and picked up a total of two yards on three plays before punting away. But a high snap forced punter Matt Barnes to take an extra moment to get the kick away, and the Grizzlies blocked it and recovered at the Valley Center nine-yard line.

Two plays later, Mission Hills had its first touchdown and a 7–0 lead with exactly nine minutes left in the first quarter.

The teams traded punts until the Jaguars had their third possession of the game, and after a good defensive stop, they started putting together a good series on offense. They picked up three first downs on the drive and moved out from their own seven to break into Mission Hills territory on a fourth-down run by Brad Dozier that picked up a fresh set of downs.

But two plays later, Dozier took the handoff and broke through the right side of the line, only to have the ball knocked away by the quick hand of a defender, and the Grizzlies recovered the fumble at their own 43.

The Jags stepped up on defense once again and got a turnover, as Jake Newman picked off a pass in the endzone on the first play of the second quarter and returned the ball all the way out to his own 31.

But the Jaguars couldn't capitalize and punted after a drive that included the first Mission Hills sack of the contest. The Grizzlies nearly gave the Jags another chance when they muffed the punt, but Mission Hills recovered the loose ball and were aided by a Valley Center penalty to start the ensuing drive at their own 45.

From there, it took only three plays to get another touchdown, this one coming on a 55-yard pass down the middle of the field that made the score 14–0 with exactly eight minutes remaining in the second quarter.

The Grizzlies were hurt by a penalty on the next Valley Center punt, as they thought they had returned the kick for a 62-yard touchdown, only to be called back for holding to the Valley Center 46.

It still took only six plays to cover those 46 yards for another touchdown, as they scored on a 17-yard pass that made it 21–0 with 4:39 left before halftime.

Another Valley Center three-and-out gave Mission Hills the ball back at its own 44, and eight plays later, the Grizzlies had another touchdown on a four-yard pass that made it 28–0 with 1:05 left in the second quarter.

The Jags picked up a pair of first downs on their final drive of the half, but the clock ran out on another Mission Hills sack.

The Grizzlies scored another touchdown on the first possession of the second half, then scored again almost immediately on an interception return for a touchdown just eight seconds later, making the score 42–0 with 8:46 left in the third quarter.

The Mission Hills backups came in not long after, and the teams traded punts until Valley Center's final possession ended with a punt attempt in which a low snap led to Barnes getting tackled at his own 14 to turn the ball over on fourth down.

Mission Hills added a 26-yard field goal and the game ended after the ensuing kickoff.

Valley Center will get a chance to bounce back from the difficult loss on Friday night, as they travel to Poway to take on a Titans team that suffered a 61–0 loss to Oceanside in their last game.

"If we play like we did for a couple of series tonight, we can beat Poway," Coach Gilster added in his speech to the team. "This is a character check. I don't want to hear anything but positive between you guys. We didn't have a whole lot of positive tonight, but you've got to find it."

Kickoff for this week's game at Poway High School is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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