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KLINGERMAN & CRISTINI VAULT WOLF PACK TO VICTORY

WOLF PACK HOIST THE TONY BURNER MEMORIAL TROPHY IN CELEBRATION

2019 EAST COUNTY FOOTBALL

BY ADAM PAUL

2ND ANNUAL TONY BURNER MEMORIAL TROPHY

WEST HILLS 24, EL CAPITAN 14

LAKESIDE (9-28-19) – In a contest that for the second straight year was a close game as the game wasn’t decided until the waning minutes the West Hills Wolf Pack claimed the crucial Division III battle on Friday night. Not only was it crucial but it was also an emotional victory.

Coming into the contest both teams were neck and neck in the playoff power rankings and neither team didn’t want to lose any ground.

Early on the El Capitan Vaqueros kick-started the momentum as they drove the ball 80-yards down the field before Wick Hauser found his way into the end zone on a 2-yard scramble to make it 7-0.

The early lead for the Vaqueros didn’t last as West Hills had an answer albeit having to use a little trickery as on a fourth-down play Kole Klingerman took the snap and jetted down the sideline for a 30-yard gain to give the Wolf Pack excellent field position. For the next trick that the Pack pulled Kole Klingerman would run an end-around where he would pull up and find his brother Kip Klingerman for the 17-yard score.

The score would remain tied until midway through the third quarter when West Hills would take their first lead courtesy of a 31-yard field goal by Elijah Mullett. El Capitan would again regain the lead when Hauser again would find the house via a 1-yard touchdown to make it 14-10.

West Hills knew they had to get something going and they would drive the field in the fourth quarter. Moving into the Vaqueros territory and looking like they would score the Pack was in business until they almost were not. With just a little over 4:30 minutes remaining in the game, the defense of El Capitan looked like they had made the play of the game up to that point.

The defensive line for the Vaqueros was able to break through and Jacobo Villa was able to get to Gerardo Hernandez and bring him down and in doing so Hernandez lost the football. With the ball out El Capitan looked like they had the ball as one of their defensemen tried to pick it up and run but unfortunately couldn’t get a handle on it which led to a mad scramble for the ball.

With everyone from both teams jumping onto the ball the officials had to make sure who had it and in the end, the Vaqueros lost out as the Wolf Pack had recovered the fumble. After the melee, the Wolf Pack faced a fourth-down situation and head Coach Casey Ash decided to roll the dice.

The gamble paid off for the Wolf Pack as Hernandez found Kole Klingerman in the back of the end zone in the left corner. Klingerman on the catch was able to haul it in as he dragged his foot and was ruled in for the go-ahead score to make it 17-14.

There was still time on the clock for the Vaqueros to do something and it looked like they would take advantage of the opportunity as Hauser moved them down the field. He would eventually drive the Vaqueros down to the 14-yard line of the Wolf Pack.

With just under a minute and the Vaqueros looking like they would retake the lead possibly for good, the Wolf Pack would have other ideas.

Hauser would take the snap and unfortunately, his pass to the left side into the end zone was picked off by Steven Cristini who instead of falling down saw there was no one in front of him and would run it all the way back for a 100-yard pick-six score which made it 24-14.


The 100-yard interception by Cristini is the second-longest ever returned for a score in San Diego CIF Section history behind only a 101-yard return by Ben Bernable of Hilltop back in November of 2011.

With the long pick-six, the Wolf Pack sealed the victory and it was on with the celebration.

West Hills with the victory improved to 3-2 and will next week take on El Cajon Valley in the opening night of Grossmont Valley League play at home while the El Capitan Vaqueros fall to 0-5 and will next take on Helix in La Mesa to start Grossmont Hills play.

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