By Gary Montgomery
REV 59 Bakersfield Ridgeview 42
Redlands – The 2014 Redlands East Valley Wildcats have blazed a record breaking trail through the Inland football landscape this season. The Wildcats (14-1) punched their ticket to the State finals at Stub Hub Center on Saturday. Redlands will meet northern representative Clayton Valley Charter for the Division II State Title.
After wrapping up the regular season as Citrus Belt champions, the Wildcats embarked on a crushing playoff run. First up was the Riverside North Huskies. North, a last place qualifier was barely a speed bump for the peaking Wildcats. REV rolled over North 61-17.
Next up, the Elsinore Tigers, considerably better. REV pulled off its first come from behind win of the playoffs beating the Tigers by 6 and marching on to the semi-final game against an even tougher Perris Citrus Hill.
Citrus Hill, a former CIF Champion itself and a perennial power didn’t go down easily. The Wildcats once again pulled off another come from behind win beating Citrus 34-31 but at a price. Redlands sophomore quarterback Armando Herrera took a shot to his right side and came away with a dislocated right shoulder.
Herrera’s injury created a cloud of anxiety for the Redlands’ faithful and it was unclear whether he would be able to play the following week in the CIF Championship game against hard hitting Riverside Poly.
But pay he did. And very well I might add. After battling the tough Poly team all evening, Herrera led the Wildcats on a 85-yard final drive that put Redlands ahead for good. REV went on to beat Poly 36-31 to become the 2014 CIF Southern Section Div II Champions.
Next up Saturday’s regional matchup against Bakersfield Ridgeview the Central Section Champions. The Wolfpack (12-2) led by triple threat quarterback Lawrence White gave the Wildcats trouble all night. REV found themselves trailing in the second half for the third straight game.
After trailing 34-24 in the third quarter, Malik Lovette scored on what looked like a high jump over a massive pile of bodies. Lovette’s touchdown sparked the REV offense to two more scoring possessions taking over the lead for good.
Ridgeview’s kicking game started to sputter, giving REV great field position on consecutive drives. Adding to the Wolfpacks problems, White took a hard hit and had to leave the game late in the fourth quarter.
REV worked its miracle again, coming from behind to defeat another opponent. REV Quarterback Armando Herrera gutted out another win with a dislocated throwing shoulder aided by his wing man, Malik Lovette running the wildcat occasionally to give Herrera a break.
Herrera didn’t have big numbers but he kept the REV offense scoring anyway he could. Lovette had 198-yards and 2 touchdowns. The Wildcats will compete in their first ever state champion game against Clayton Valley Charter on Saturday evening at Stub Hub Center in Carson.