It’s not often the Chino Hills High School football team faces a “must-win” game outside the postseason. Huskies head coach Derek Bub, however, applied that label to last Friday’s game against Ayala.
Coming off a 41-13 loss to Covina Charter Oak Oct. 5 that all but dashed its seemingly promising Sierra League title hopes, Chino Hills would have bigger problems if it dropped a second straight game in league play.
Coming to its side of Chino Hills was not only a fierce city rival but a revived one-loss Ayala team brimming with confidence after a statement win over a 2011 playoff team in its league opener.
“Even aside from the rivalry and all that comes with that, this was a game we needed to win,” Bub said. “If you have any chance of playing in the postseason, you can’t go 0-2 in the Sierra League.”
After a 49-34 win over Ayala Friday night, Chino Hills doesn’t have to worry about city supremacy or going 0-2. Considering the way it unfolded, Friday’s game may have even felt like two victories for Chino Hills.
It’s safe to say that 34 first-half points against Ayala constituted a bounce-back performance by the Huskies from the loss to Charter Oak. Chino Hills’ back-breaking score with 10 seconds left in the second quarter made the lead three touchdowns going into the locker room.
But eight minutes into the second half, it was a one-score game while Chino Hills went three-and-out for the second time in as many possessions. It was the Huskies’ defense, which was victimized for 41 points a week ago, which took over the game with two fourth-quarter interceptions to help Chino Hills build a commanding 49-27 lead.
“What a lot of people don’t understand is that we play the non-league schedule that we do so we’re ready for things like that,” Bub said. “We’ve been in every situation.”
Chino Hills emerged with only one loss from a non-league slate that included three teams that currently have at least five wins and another that’s a two-time defending CIF champion. The Huskies’ lone loss was a 10-point defeat at the hands of Tesoro, the No. 3 team in the CIF-SS Pac-5 Division. The impressive showing in the first five games was exactly why the lopsided nature of Chino Hills’ loss to Charter Oak was such a surprise. After all, the Huskies tied a La Puente Bishop Amat team earlier this season that beat Charter Oak, 30-14.
Chino Hills lost the 2011 regular-season finale — and the Sierra League championship — to Charter Oak by the score of 38-7. The Huskies responded with what would have been a first-round playoff victory but for a Hail Mary that gave eventual CIF-SS Inland Division semifinalist Rancho Cucamonga a 39-38 win.
They responded again Friday night in a manner that demonstrated the character Bub said is the strength of his team.
“If anything this is a real character team,” Bub said. “This was a must-win situation and they responded. Ayala was saying this was one of the best teams they’ve had. The win was big all the way around.”