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La Fiesta Grande For The Lions!

-Photo by Duane Barker

El Monte quarterback Brandon Martinez

By Joe Torosian, Sports Writer

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By Joe Torosian

El Monte, CA –

“You want me to bake them a cake?” Said Arroyo HC Jim Singiser when asked by a local reporter to describe his thoughts of El Monte after its 38-21 victory Friday night.

Truth is he probably should have baked them a cake and the rest of us should have attended the party to see the Lions blow the candles out on the Knights 21-game winning streak.

Brandon Martinez threw six touchdown passes, four in the first half, three to Abel Barajas, for 375 yards on 27 of 39 passing.

“Brandon is Brandon,” said El Monte HC Joel Sanchez. “I don’t need to sit here and tell you how great he is. But he’s got Abel, Josh, Adolfo and we’ve got Bryan Luevano, a guy who runs hard for our team and doesn’t get the credit he deserves.”

Across the field Arroyo’s most experienced player was Peter Aholoka. The senior running back rushed for a 161 yards on 20 carries and a touhdown, and was all the Knights could answer the El Monte onslaught with.

It wasn’t close to being enough.

On their opening drive the Lions covered 81-yards over the course of five minutes, playing typical Lion football. They converted a fourth down and eight from their own 45 with a 27-yard pass from Martinez to Josh Morales. A few players later a first and goal at the Arroyo four turned into fourth down from three. Martinez found Abel Barajas for the game’s first score in the corner of the end zone.

The two-point attempt failed.

The Knights had opened the game with a drive that used Aholoka and reached the EM 24 before ending with Aaron Tang taking a tipped ball out of the air for an interception. On the  possession following the El Monte score, they responded with one of their own. Eight plays, eight runs, going eighty-yards before quarterback Natha Coto reached the one on a 9-yard run and fumbled into the end zone where Sonny Gonzalez recovered it for Arroyo. The point after was added and the visitors, the local kings of football, had a 7-6 lead.

Within five minutes everything would change. The Knights for some reason started passing the ball and Lions OC Brian Tabatabai essentially said; “Let it rain…”

The cloud burst arrive with 7:30 to play in the second quarter as Barajas caught a 52-yard touchdown pass from Martinez to give EM back the lead. Luevano added the deuce and it was 14-7.

(…And Memo Silva along with the other who experienced the 2011 loss rejoiced.)

With 4:48, and Arroyo still lacking a center fielder, Martinez went 19-yards to Adolfo Sanchez to make it 20-7.

(…And the team that saw Anthony Wilbur block that kick in 2003 began to dance.)

With 2:04 to play Martinez hit paydirt again by going 8-yards to Barajas. The receiver’s third touchdown grab of the half made it 26-7 at the break.

(…And the team in 2001 that saw Nick Kearney and the Knights grab the MVL’s final playoff spot began to feel the ceasing of their pain.)

With 9:23 to play in the third quarter Morales got behind the Arroyo secondary for a 26-yard touchdown to make it 32-7.

(…And Ev Bjorensen and Jack Barton high-fived in the heavens.)

Aholoka added his 11-yard scoring run to stop the 26-0 run late in the fourth.

“We got suckered out of what we wanted to do,” said Singiser. “Our game plan was to run the ball, and we were up 7-6, but we got pulled out of what we wanted to do and started throwing the ball and turned it over.”

Early in the fourth Martinez and Luevano  hooked up on a 25-yard wheel route to dismiss any remote thoughts of a fantastic comeback or epic collapse.

(…and “It’s time to go tip some back at the El Sombrero,” said one alumnus.)

A 36-yard halfback option pass from Jesus Calvillo to David Cotero window dressed the score for the Knights.

“It means a lot,” Sanchez said about the win. “We’ve talked about this game since losing to them last year, and we didn’t forget about it.

The victory, its first over Arroyo since 1990, improved El Monte t0 4-2 overall (1-0), while the Knights fell  to 3-3 (0-1).

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News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.
La Fiesta Grande For The Lions!