By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
It seems only fitting that before the Monrovia and San Dimas high School football teams can entertain the thought of a CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division title, the two rivals would have to square off one more time. When the Wildcats visit the Saints on Saturday night in the semifinals, it will mark the fourth time in 14 months that the two teams have played. Monrovia won the first meeting in September 2009. Since then, San Dimas has beaten the Wildcats in last year’s Mid-Valley title game and again this season in a nonleague game. (To continue reading, click thread).
“They wouldn’t want it any other way,” Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox said of his players. “I think everybody was rooting for San Dimas (last week). Obviously, you want to face the team that beat you earlier in the season and have a chance to redeem yourself.”
Monrovia (10-2) actually had that chance earlier this season. Seething from their loss in last year’s championship game, the Wildcats spent the entire offseason anxiously awaiting their game with San Dimas on Sept. 24.
The Wildcats appeared on their way to sweet revenge, leading 28-7 entering the fourth quarter. Then, San Dimas rattled off 21 unanswered points to send the game into overtime.
San Dimas scored first in OT and led 35-28, but Monrovia answered with a touchdown and Maddox decided to go for two and the victory. Quarterback Nick Bueno was tackled at the 1-yard line to give San Dimas a 35-34 victory.
“If we beat them three more times in a row, we might own them mentally,” San Dimas coach Bill Zernickow said. “We would sure hope to try and foster that, but we don’t own them mentally one bit right now. We’ve been fortunate enough to have circumstances fall in our laps and have taken advantage.”
Since the loss, Monrovia has rattled off nine consecutive victories. The Wildcats beat Schurr on Friday while San Dimas erupted early to rout Maranatha.
“They wouldn’t be in the position they’re in now if they hadn’t gotten better this season,” Maddox said of San Dimas. “You can see on film that they’re hitting their stride. Both teams have improved greatly.”
San Dimas entered the postseason as an at-large team with an uninspiring 6-4 record. The Saints suffered league losses to Baldwin Park and Covina, but have outlasted both of those teams in the playoffs by beating No. 3-seeded Arroyo in the first round and Maranatha last week.
Having played Monrovia so many times in the past two seasons, Zernickow said the respect each program holds for the other couldn’t be higher.
“You know what, these guys are really good,” he said. “So if you get to play them twice in a season, it’s been a good year. If we don’t win this game, I want Ryan to win this thing because he’s such a good guy.”