El Camino revels in resurgence of the Bell Game
By Terry Bernal Daily Journal staff
Nov 7, 2022
The “Bell Game” is back, and for the fourth straight time, El Camino walked away with the coveted Bell Trophy with a victory over archrival South City.
The Colts (6-1 PAL Lake, 7-3 overall) celebrated a dramatic 21-14 win at Clifford Field in the first rivalry matchup with the Warriors since the 2020 season. South City did not field a varsity football team last year, and the 2020 Bell Game was played in the spring of 2021 due to the pandemic.
With the two teams fighting for second place in the Peninsula Athletic League Lake Division, this year featured a rare evenly matched game. El Camino’s three previous wins during the streak were by scores of 49-12 in the 2020 season; 39-0 in 2019; and 41-15 in 2018.
“You know it’s going to be a hostile environment,” El Camino head coach Rustin Mayorga said. “So, I think it was just a great way to end the season if you weren’t going to go to the playoffs.”
Both teams saw a resurgence this season. The Warriors (5-2, 6-4) have garnered much attention for turning around their varsity football program under head coach Frank Moro, who returned this season for the first time since 2013. South City not only snapped a 26-game losing streak, the team finished with an overall record above .500 for the first time since 2012.
El Camino also finished above .500 for the first time in a generation. The Colts last did so in 2013, and in taking second place in the Lake Division enjoyed their best finish since claiming a co-PAL Lake championship in 2011.
Saturday’s showdown came down to the wire, with El Camino rallying back from a 14-0 deficit to take its first lead with six minutes remaining in regulation. Senior running back Antonio Arenas scored the game-winner, bouncing off right tackle for a 7-yard touchdown run.
“We got back to the basics,” Mayorga said. “Just kind of beat guys with speed, wearing them down, and then we got to the red zone, put our big boys in and just kind of beat them to the punch.”
It was a big moment for the Colts, who have played in some big games this year. But both previous outcomes, ones that could have helped propel El Camino to the postseason — PAL Lake champion Woodside is the C-league’s only team to earn a bid to the Central Coast Section playoffs, it was announced Sunday — saw the Colts come up short in the waning minutes.
El Camino opened the year with a 27-20 non-league loss to San Mateo, the eventual champions of the PAL Ocean Division. Then in a battle for first place in the Lake Division at Woodside, the Colts dropped a 41-32 decision.
Arenas’s game-winning touchdown — his second score of game — provided El Camino fans with their playoff-environment moment.
“The crowd was going crazy,” Mayorga said. “The players were up and down because I think they knew in their heart — they knew the momentum was on their side and they had it.”
Still, the game came down to one last defensive hurrah for the Colts.
South City, riding the legs of sophomore running back Elijah Fields, moved the ball into the red zone with just under two minutes to play. The Warriors were facing fourth-and-8 at the Colts’ 19, and ran a halfback option, with quarterback Mariusz Tan pitching to running back Darren Miller, who then pulled up and attempted a pass into the end zone.
El Camino’s defense was ready for the trick play.
“One cue for us that we knew, obviously we knew it was going to come, but the real indicator, we noticed (before the play) the running back took his glove off and wiped his hand,” Mayorga said.
With rushers Christopher Anguiano and Carlos Luna breathing down Miller’s neck, the pass was broken up in the end zone by James Stam and Jeffrey Gamboa.
“I kid you not though, when he threw that ball up, it felt like it was in the air for about 10 seconds,” Mayorga said.
https://www.smdailyjournal.com/sports/local/el-camino-revels-in-resurgence-of-the-bell-game/article_af9ff004-5e78-11ed-aca4-73b0fc69e75f.html Source: San Mateo Daily Journal