HUNTINGTON BEACH – The Huntington Beach football team knew that it had a shot at sharing the 2011 Sunset League championship, if the Oilers took care of business Thursday against Fountain Valley and got some help from another team just one beach city south of Cap Sheue Field.
The Oilers held up their part as they defeated the host Barons, 30-12, in the Sunset League and regular-season finale for both teams. It was during halftime, with his team holding a 14-6 lead, that Oilers head coach Eric Lo learned that the team his squad needed help from, Newport Harbor, was trailing league-leading Edison, 28-7, at the break. The Chargers (5-0) went on to run away with a 35-7 victory that gave them an outright league title.
Huntington, at 4-1 in league, sewed up second place. It was a finish that Lo had predicted before the start of the season.
"We're real excited about the season," the fifth-year coach said of his team's 8-2 overall record. "Now, we get to show what we can do in the playoffs but we need to play better football than how we played tonight.
"This one was a good one for us, but we didn't play as well as we could have. We missed some opportunities and we gave up some plays. But that's a credit to Fountain Valley and how well they played and how well they are coached."
The Oilers, who became the first Huntington team to win eight games in a season since the 1993 team went 13-1, overcame a 6-0 first-quarter deficit to get the win against a Fountain Valley team that played its best football over the final month of the season.
A week ago, the Barons gave Edison all it could handle before succumbing, 14-10. On senior night against Huntington, they took the early lead and were within a touchdown at the half before the game slipped away.
"Being inconsistent has been our Achilles heel all year," said Fountain Valley Coach John Shipp who celebrated his 40th birthday on Thursday. "We played hard but in this league, you need to be on your 'A' game every week. It's not due to our lack of heart, because we have played some of our most inspiring football in the last two weeks. It's due to the fact that we haven't been able to put together four, solid quarters of football. We've done it in spurts, but not all the way through."
Just as it had against Edison, Fountain Valley, which finished 4-6 overall and 1-4 in league, took the early lead. The Barons scored on their first drive of the game when senior running back Chris Calvillo broke a tackle at the Huntington 20-yard line and went up the middle to complete a 29-yard touchdown run. Derek Huynen's extra point kick was blocked but the Barons were on top, 6-0.
But the lead lasted only one minute. On Huntington's second play on its ensuing possession, Oilers senior receiver Ramon Vargas grabbed a short pass from senior quarterback Michael Chislock then turned on the after burners as he raced for a 64-yard touchdown. Thomas Harer's conversion put the Oilers in front for good, 7-6.
Huntington again struck quickly on its next possession. A four-play drive that covered 76 yards ended on another 64-yard scoring pass, this one from Chislock to Chris Ogilvie. The senior receiver took in Chislock's pass at the Fountain Valley 42, broke out of the grip of Barons senior defensive back Sean Myers and raced down the Huntington side line to the end zone. Harer's second PAT made it 14-6 with 9:13 left in the half.
The teams combined for three turnovers in the first 2:23 of the second half two of which were by the Barons. The second one proved costly as Huntington senior defensive end Alexander Alagata recovered a fumble in the Fountain Valley end zone. Three minutes later, the lead grew to 28-6 when senior running back Fisher Chavira scored on a 14-yard run.
Alagata also was credited with a safety with 2:36 left in the game that pushed the lead to 30-12.
Fountain Valley had trimmed the Huntington lead to 28-12 on an eight-yard touchdown pass from junior Chris d'Entremont to junior receiver Wyatt Christensen with 4:28 left in the third quarter and was moving in on another scoring opportunity early in the fourth quarter when it reached the Huntington nine-yard line. That scoring threat ended, however, when Vargas came up with an interception with 9:30 remaining.
Chislock threw for 167 yards and in addition to Alagata's defensive TD and safety and Vargas' interception, senior Jack Rulon recovered a fumble on the second play from scrimmage in the second half.
Fountain Valley senior defensive back Brandon Le intercepted Chislock one play after Rulon's fumble recovery.
Huntington will learn its opponent and game site when the CIF Pac-5 Division playoff bracket is released Sunday. The first round of the playoffs is Nov. 18.
In other games involving local teams Thursday: