The Hollister-Milpitas reunion in the Central Coast Section Division I football title game is almost becoming a holiday tradition.
For the third time in five years Hollister and Milpitas fought it out for the D-I title, with the winner of the rubber match going to the No. 2 seed Trojans behind the 220-yard, four-touchdown performance of Squally Canada.
Milpitas (11-2), which lost to Hollister in the D-I finale last year but beat Hollister in the 2009 title game, prevailed Friday night 37-23 at the new 5,000-seat, $7.5 million Rabobank Stadium in Salinas.
It was the first CCS championship football game this city of about 150,000 has ever hosted.
Hollister, meanwhile, was trying to win its third CCS crown since 2000 and its second in a row with a 5-5 regular-season record.
The Balers overcame a 14-3 deficit midway through the second quarter by scoring two touchdowns in 15 seconds to take a 16-14 lead at halftime.
An interception by Cody Freitas one play after Zach Hicks scored on a 17-yard run, set up another Hicks touchdown, this one from a yard out to swing the lead back to the Balers.
Hollister nearly had a third straight touchdown in the second quarter when it reached the Milpitas 15-yard-line with less than a minute to play in the half. But Christian Rita intercepted a pass at the 10 — one of three interceptions for Milpitas. He almost went the distance for a score but was finally tripped up from behind as he neared open field at the Baler 30.
In addition to the three interceptions, Hollister was also guilty a costly turnover on a punt after stopping the Trojans on their first two drives of the third quarter. The kick slipped off the hands of the Baler returner and Milpitas recovered at the Hollister 36-yard-line.
It was the beginning of a second-half surge for Milpitas, which outscored the Balers 23-7 in the final two quarters.
After recovering the punt Milpitas went right to its 6-0, 190-pound scoring machine. Canada, who ran for 1,657 yards and 21 touchdowns entering the night, carried on five straight plays, his last going five yards for the score. He also ran in the two-point conversion to give the Trojans the lead to stay at 22-16.
Milpitas came right back to score again on a 41-yard pass from Ronnie Reed to Canada to build its lead to 30-16 with three minutes to go in the third quarter.
Reed, who passed for more than 1,700 yards on the season, was hurried by the pressuring Baler defense most of the night. He completed only 10 for 28 throws for 166 yards and one interception. Six of those completions for 97 yards went to Tre Hartley.
Hollister used a 56-yard, seven-play drive to cut its deficit to 30-23 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Hicks scored his third touchdown of the game on a 2-yard run. He carried 18 times for 103 yards.
Two more Hollister possessions ended in punts and the third resulted in Rita making his second interception of the game to set the Trojans up at their own 44-yard-line midway through the final quarter.
Canada carried five more times for 40 yards, then Royce Kim applied the finishing touches on a four-yarder to boost the Milpitas lead to a title-clinching 37-23 advantage.
Hollister rushed for nearly 200 yards, but threw a season-high 24 times. David Stanton finished 11 of 24 for 128 yards and three interceptions.