Here is a categorical breakdown of the “battle for the bone” as Chino Hills High School football coach Derek Bub dubbed the football game between crosstown rivals, the Ayala Bulldogs and Chino Hills Huskies.
The winner of this matchup will obtain at minimum a share of the Sierra League title. If CIF-SS Central Division No. 6 Chino Hills (8-0, 3-0) wins, it will secure an outright league championship. A victory by No. 5 Ayala (7-1, 3-0) will assure it of a share of the league championship, but its regular-season finale against Glendora will have league-title implications if Glendora beats Chino this week.
The Huskies and Bulldogs maintain a rivalry as fierce as any in the area, adding further intrigue to a meeting already with plenty.
Fresh off an 0-10 season in 2006, Ayala beat Chino Hills last year by blocking a potential game-winning field goal in the final minute and returning it 69 yards for a game-sealing score. Consequently, Chino Hills missed the playoffs for the first time in three years while Ayala went on to nearly claim a league title.
“We’re glad it has come down to these two teams,” Chino Hills coach Derek Bub said. “This is a clean rivalry. There is definitely a buzz around the city.”
Chino Hills running back A.J. Johnson is responsible for nearly 40 percent of the Huskies offense. The senior is thriving in first-year head coach Bub’s newly implemented spread offense having carried 140 times for 989 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging over seven yards per carry.
“He’s got real good speed,” Ayala coach Tom Inglima said. “He can break tackles. He’s not a dancer, he’ll go straight ahead. And they can throw when they have to.”
Quarterback Ryan Verdugo – also the Huskies’ best outside linebacker, according to Bub – is averaging 125 passing yards per game and has thrown for 13 touchdowns against three interceptions. Chino Hills is averaging a league-best 33 points per game but Ayala is allowing a league-low 13.5 points per game.
Building on the blocked Chino Hills field goal of last season, the Ayala special teams are producing remarkable results this year.
In last week’s 35-6 win over Damien alone, the Bulldogs returned a punt for a score, returned a kickoff to the opponents’ 1-yard line, blocked a punt, blocked an extra point and ran a fake punt from midfield that resulted in first-and-goal on the Damien 1-yard line. They even had another punt return for a touchdown called back. In all, Ayala has blocked 11 kicks in eight games this season.
Lead dog II:
Ayala running back Courtney Samuel, who will return this week after a knee injury shelved him last week, is averaging a team-leading 121 rushing yards per game. Wing back David Quiroga, the team’s second option, picked up the slack last week with 123 yards on 14 carries.
The Bulldogs’ variation of the wing-T looks considerably different this season than it did last year with 2,400-yard passer Matt Baca and 1,000-yard receiver Quiroga. Junior Dylan Lada has completed 39 percent of his passes for 567 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions.
Despite a one-dimensional offense Ayala doesn’t have trouble scoring points – its 28 points per game trail only Chino Hills’ 33.
“To not have more of a passing game than they do and still be 7-1 is a tribute to the athletes they have,” Bub said. “We’re going to have to bring guys into the box because this is a case where you have to stop two main guys in Samuel and Quiroga.”