Barstow looks to finish the job

Four points. That’s all that separated the Barstow High School football team from an unlikely CIF-SS Eastern Division championship, as heavily-favored Perris Citrus Hill escaped with a 31-27 win on a frigid, windswept Saturday night at Barstow High School.

With the temperature in the upper 30s and winds blowing in upwards of 40 miles per hour, the Aztecs couldn’t quite finish off what would have been a pretty huge upset. But the disappointment of the loss has turned into inspiration in the offseason, as the Aztecs have 32 lettermen returning who are completely set on finishing the job and bringing the title to the middle of the Mojave Desert.

“It’s wonderful to have that type of experience coming back,” Barstow coach Jose Rubio said. “We have 32 guys that were part of our run last year and who are in the second year of my system. Last year’s run was really fun and really rewarding and now with another year in the books, the sky is the limit.”

Leading the returnees is a bruising offensive line which returns five of its top seven players from a year ago. 265-pound John Britto, 220-pound John McPheron and 255-pound Philip Albornoz return to pave the way in Barstow’s double-wing offense, while 6-foot-7, 310-pound sophomore Bobby Alvarez and 6-2, 270-pound junior Dylan Barton will help to pave holes for Curtis Webb, the only remaining part of the lethal Curtis Webb-Damario Webb-Jerrelle Green 3-man rushing tandem from a year ago.

“We feel really good about our offensive line,” Rubio said. “Not only do we have a lot of experience, but those guys are in better shape now than they were a year ago. There are a lot fewer guys with bellies this year.”

Rubio also hopes to see Barstow, which plays mostly out of the double-wing, open up the offense a bit. Junior quarterback Steven Deverell adds a passing threat that Tulilo Tofi didn’t have a year ago. Tofi, also a standout linebacker for Barstow, will be missed, but the Aztecs are high on seniors Steven Locke and Sean Silva at that position. Webb will see time at cornerback, while many of the linemen are expected to go both ways.

Barstow’s schedule (Home games in CAPS, league games with *)

Sept. 11 – at Rialto
Sept. 18 – at Paraclete (Antelope Valley College)
Sept. 25 – QUARTZ HILL
Oct. 2 – HESPERIA
Oct. 9 – at San Bernardino
Oct. 16 – at Ridgecrest Burroughs*
Oct. 23 – SILVERADO*
Oct. 30 – at Sultana
Nov. 6 – at Victor Valley*
Nov. 13 – GRANITE HILLS*