Mustangs shock TU to win EYL crown

Mustangs shock TU to win EYL crown


Mustangs shock TU to win EYL crown


Tulare Western’s David Alcantar runs for a touchdown during Friday’s Bell Game at Bob Mathias Stadium. Tulare Western won 20-17.

Tulare Western’s David Alcantar runs for a touchdown during Friday’s Bell Game at Bob Mathias Stadium. Tulare Western won 20-17.

There’s a new king of East Yosemite League football, and it’s one that not many thought was possible just a few weeks ago — the Tulare Western Mustangs.

Tulare Western captured its first East Yosemite League championship since 2004 with a 20-17 win over the previously undefeated Tulare Union Redskins before a sellout Bell Game crowd of more than 5,500 Friday night at Bob Mathias Stadium.

“It feels great. This is what we’ve been working so hard for,” Tulare Western senior kicker Cameron Horsting said.

Tulare Western (7-3, 5-0), which didn’t look too impressive during its non-league schedule (2-3), hit all the right buttons to march through the rest of the EYL.

The Mustangs utilized big plays and a phenomenal special teams unit to go with a clutch defensive effort to take down every league foe, and they weren’t better at that style of football on the biggest stage of the season — the Bell Game.

“It was a total buy-in from this team. Going into league, it was a completely different mindset than the one we had to start the season. We laid out a plan, and this team followed it perfectly,” Tulare Western coach Ryan Rocha said. “We told them, ‘This is going to work.’ They believed it, and they excelled at executing the game plan. Just a great job by this team.”

What did the Mustangs do so well to hand Tulare Union (9-1, 4-1) its first loss?

Big plays: The tone of the game was set in the first offensive series with Tulare Western senior linebacker snaring a pass from Josh Guerrero for an interception. Alonzo returned the pick to the Redskin 28, and two plays later, Mustang sophomore running back David Alcantar raced past the Tulare Union defense for a 19-yard touchdown.

Tulare Union converted four of its five fourth-down attempts in the first half, but failed on its first two fourth-down tries in the second half. Both attempts were for three yards or less.

Pheonomenal special teams: There are just a small handful of Central Section teams that can rely on a placekicker being a major difference-maker during a game. Tulare Western is one of the few — Horsting has a tremendous leg. Horsting proved to be the difference with a pair of field goals. He nailed a 32-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter to forge a 10-10 halftime deadlock — it would have been good from 52 yards. Horsting provided the Mustangs a 10-point lead with a 43-yard field goal at the 9:47 mark of the fourth, putting Tulare Western up 20-10.

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“I really have to thank the offensive line, my snapper (Michael Salas) and my holder (Jesse Macias), they gave me the opportunity to make those kicks. I couldn’t have done it without them,” Horsting said.

Did Horsting feel any pressure?

“No, I loved being out there in those situations,” Horsting said. “When you’re the kicker, they’re going to remember you as the goat or the hero. And you go can from hero to zero real quick, but I really liked being in those spots.”

Horsting recorded automatic touchbacks on four of his five kickoffs. Those four ensuing offensive possessions for the Redskins resulted in no points.

“When you force a team to have to go 80 yards to score just about every time after a kickoff, that’s big. And Cameron has done that for us all season. He’s a big part of the defense’s success,” Rocha said. “It’s important to win the field position battle, and he helps win it every game.”

Clutch defensive effort: Tulare Union, which entered this week with the Central Section’s highest scoring average (43.7 points per game), never established an offensive rhythm. It was like the Redskin offense entered Bizarro World, and couldn’t find their way out of it.

It’s likely that if the Central Section kept a statistic on the number of offensive plays that gained 20+ yards per game, Tulare Union would have the best rate of all the 94 teams in the section.

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Not on Friday, though.

Tulare Western limited Tulare Union to six plays of 11 yards or more, and only one play of over 20 yards.

Tulare Union had 131 yards rushing on the ground on 34 carries, a paltry average by Redskin standards of 3.9 yards per game. Tulare Union entered the game averaging nine yards per game.

The Central Section’s leading rusher, Redskin senior Romello Harris, who suffered a sprained knee two weeks ago against Porterville, did not play much and did not have a single carry (he had one catch for four yards).

“We couldn’t run the ball, plain and simple,” Tulare Union coach Darren Bennett said. “We had some holes, but couldn’t get it going. We missed Romello terribly. It wasn’t worth it to put him in this game.

“We were probably going to be the (No. 4) seed no matter what, maybe from 4 to 3. It just wasn’t worth the risk. But bottom line, (Tulare Western) played very well. They did a great job.”

But even without Harris the last two weeks, Tulare Union put up video-game-like offensive numbers.

What was the Mustangs’ secret formula?

If you asked Rocha, it was a case of team defense.

“We really stressed gang tackling. We wanted to get to the ball and make plays,” Rocha said.

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The Redskins were limited to two yards or less on 15 of its 34 carries.

Alcantar had a team-high 78 yards rushing for Tulare Western and scored both touchdowns. His second touchdown was a two-yard plunge that capped a 12-play, 67-yard drive to begin the third quarter that put the Mustangs up 17-10.

Tulare Union sophomore Kazmeir Allen had a game-high 87 yards rushing on 23 carries. Guerrero had a hand in both Redskin touchdowns. He had a four-yard scamper in the second quarter, and connected with Emoryie Edwards with a four-yard touchdown pass with 58 seconds left.

After four illegal procedures (all on Tulare Union) on the ensuing onsides kick tries, Tulare Union did recover the onsides kick at its 40. But the drive stalled out at the Mustang 44 as time expired.

Tulare Union






Tulare Western






First Quarter

TW — David Alcantar 19 run (Cameron Horsting kick), 7:44

TU — TW player tackled in end zone for safety, 10:24

TU — Josh Guerrero 4 run (Alonzo Anderson 2 pass from Guerrero), 6:36

TW — Horsting 32 FG, 0:00

Third Quarter

TW — Alcantar 2 run (Horsting kick), 5:37

Fourth Quarter

TW — Horsting 43 FG, 9:46

TU — Emoryie Edwards 4 pass from Guerrero (Alexis Perez kick), 0:58



First downs






Passing yards



Total yards












Time of possession




RUSHING — Tulare Union: Kazmeir Allen 23-87, Josh Guerrero 11-44. Tulare Western: David Alcantar 15-78, Mason Bernardo 6-38, Andre Aguilar 9-15, Josh Portillo 4-27, Andrew Trevino 2-8, team 1-(minus) 1.

PASSING — Tulare Union: Guerrero 21-34-1 172. Tulare Western: Aguilar 2-4-0 18.

RECEIVING — Tulare Union: Elijah Dailey 12-107, Emoryie Edwards 6-48, Alonzo Anderson 2-13, Romello Harris 1-4. Tulare Western: Portillo 1-12, Jesse Macias 1-6.

Records: Tulare Western 7-3, 5-0. Tulare Union 9-1, 4-1.


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