Here are some of the more newsworthy stories surrounding the Escondido sports scene.
Cougar icon – Mike Williams did his share of winning on the court, amassing 277 victories during his lengthy 1971-96 tenure as the head basketball coach at Escondido High.
But more importantly, Williams was even more of an impactful winner when it came to being a quality human being.
In the aftermath of his recent death at the age of 81 due to Alzheimer’s disease, the expressions of praise and admiration voiced by those that knew him reflect the goodness of his nature.
To many he was a father figure, a life mentor and simply a great man.
Perhaps one of the most telling indicators of Williams’s character was that he worked closely with everyone who occupied a place on one of his rosters. It was immaterial if you were a star, starter, role player or an end-of-the-bench type of guy, Williams invested in you and made you feel wanted and valued.
There were occasions when, from a talent standpoint, some of Williams’s squads weren’t exactly loaded but he developed a reputation for coaching his guys up and getting the most out of them.
Perhaps Williams’s best team was his 1987-88 group that rolled to a 20-6 record, featured future USD star Brooks Barnhard and ultimately fell in the playoffs to Madison, the eventual San Diego Section champion. A total of two of Williams’s squads did advance to the Section semifinals.
Williams lived by a code that taught you to be accountable for your actions. He emphasized the importance of competing hard but with integrity and sportsmanship.
This past Sunday a Celebration of Life was held in his honor at a most fitting place – the Escondido High gym where for so long his presence loomed. Among those who spoke was another legendary Cougar hoop coach Paul Baldwin, one of Esco’s best- ever cagers in Jerry Haynal, recently retired athletic director Steve Bridges and former EH baseball coach Bill Kutzner.
Maybe all you need to know about Mike Williams is that the High School Sports Association named its Sportsmanship Award in his honor.
The impact Williams had on the court and in the hearts and minds of those that he touched, is a fitting legacy for a mighty good man who made Escondido a much better place.
Pats’ long wait is over – It’s been a while with some undeniably tough times but Orange Glen’s lengthy losing streak is finally over.
Thanks to a highly commendable effort at home, the Patriots (1-3) scored in every quarter en route to a 25-20 victory over previously unbeaten Lynwood High (3-1).
How long had it been since OG last experienced a victory? You’ve got to harken back to October 15, 2021 when the Pats last tasted success after a 27-14 triumph over Classical Academy.
Since then, OG dropped 16 straight games while giving up at least 40 points in 14 of those contests. In many respects, matters had turned into one testing and deflating slog.
But relief has come at last and the proverbial monkey is now off of OG’s back.
A potent running game proved to be the elixir to the Pats’ woes. Hard-charging sophomore Bowyn Cannon absolutely ran wild, toting the rock a massive 32 times that he parlayed into 243 rushing yards and three trips to the end zone. Watching this kid in action you can’t help but be struck with his toughness and desire to get the most out of every carry.
Though Cannon was clearly the headliner on this night, Angel Rios did some serious damage on the ground. Handed the ball 21 times, this soph piled up 135 yards on the ground and nailed down a touchdown of his own.
The one-two punch of Cannon and Rios simply overpowered the Knights; who were at a loss trying to corral either of these two.
Credit must also go to the Pat defense that made its share of key plays, especially in the second half when it limited the visitors to just six points.
Among standout defenders were junior Aaron Conley who posted five tackles and a sack; cornerback Homero Vargas who recovered a fumble, knocked down a pass and collected a tackle for loss; and Todd Riddle, a senior lineman credited with a hurry and a TFL.
So the Pats are thankfully off the schneid. Let’s see if this desperately needed win is a springboard to better results in the future.
Esco comes through – In another sign that Escondido coach Stephen Dixon has his ascending team believing in itself, the Cougars (2-2, 1-0) got the Valley League portion of their schedule off to a positive start with a 36-21 home win over Vista (0-4).
Once again frosh quarterback Caden Thompson was a game-changer as he threw for 310 yards and four TDs. It’s scary to think just how productive this youngster could be in upcoming years given how dynamic he’s been through the early stage of his prep career.
Meanwhile, Esco’s other high-profile standout Josh Gonzales continues to show out and impress. Not only did this dangerous wideout latch onto seven passes that translated into 150 yards and a pair of scores but he also wowed the crowd with a nifty punt return for a touchdown.
If Thompson and Gonzales along with a passel of other contributing teammates can sustain their gathering momentum, they could very well challenge in a wide-open VL race.
SP secures a big win – Quarterback Robert Renteria’s coming out party couldn’t have come at a better time. With his team in real need of a victory, the Golden Eagle signal-caller went large by setting school passing records while tossing for 344 yards and four TDs in a 36-21 conquest of host Valley Center.
Two other SP players of note were Marcus Rocha—who snared seven passes for 116 yards and a brace of scores while Josh Roberts did his thing by hauling in a TD pass and taking a kickoff return to the house.
Coming out on top in their Valley League opener should give the Golden Eagles (1-3, 1-0) a real boost moving forward as they try to soldier on without the sideline presence of longtime coach Tony Corley—who continues to recuperate from recent surgery.