Clovis East MVP Devin Lopez (far left), Heritage MVP Devon Rivers and Clovis East spotsmanship/character winner Nick Sandoval sign balls for wounded wounded veterans after the Clovis East victory at the 2021 Honor Bowl
Harold Abend/Prep2Prep

Honor Bowl 2021 Recap

September 13, 2021

The pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 Honor Bowl, but after missing a year it came back strong with four games in Southern California on September 3-4 at Cathedral Catholic in San Diego and four games this past weekend at Liberty in Brentwood. It also provided a bit of a surprise, as Clayton Valley head coach Tim Murphy disclosed that he may not be retiring after all.

The event actually started in 2010, but the Honor Group, the non-profit organization that produces the Honor Bowl that was founded by Mark Sato and Rick Sutter, did not officially become a non-profit until December of 2012 when they also launched other educational programs to help educate our youth and fundraise to assist injured, ill and wounded military veterans.

Each year the Honor Bowl games are preceded by ceremonies to honor veterans and Gold Star families. At the end of each game players that are chosen as the MVP and sportsmanship award winners, plus the winning and losing head coaches, sign balls and helmets that will later be given to wounded veterans.

In San Diego national powerhouse Valor Christian from Highlands Ranch, Colorado kicked things off with a 30-7 drubbing of Oaks Christian-Westlake Village. Host Cathedral Catholic won big in the Sept. nightcap with a 50-17 victory over Chaminade-West Hills.

The first game on Sept. 4 saw another out of state school, Utah’s American Fork, pound out a 59-27 victory over Serra-Gardena. The final game in Southern California saw national top 20 and California power Centennial-Corona post a 35-14 victory over a very solid Sierra Canyon-Chatsworth team.

In Northern California, host Liberty shook off a drubbing by Los Gatos two weeks ago to slip past Campolindo 13-7.

Campolindo scored first on a first quarter 5-yard touchdown pass from Dashiell Weaver to Robbie Mascheroni to take a 7-0 lead.

Liberty (1-1) answered back late in the second quarter to tie the game at halftime when junior quarterback Nate Bell scored on a 61-yard run. Bell got the Lions the lead on a 1-yard keeper early in the fourth quarter, but the PAT failed and it was 13-7.

Campolindo (1-2) got to the Liberty 14-yard line with two minutes left but turned it over on downs and the Lions were able to run out the clock.

Clayton Valley 14, Liberty-Bakersfield 13

After Clayton Valley lost to 26-20 on the road at Del Oro-Loomis two weeks ago the Ugly Eagles came into the game with Liberty, a state-ranked team with an explosive offense, as a slight underdog.

The problem for the Patriots from the Central Section, was they had never seen anything like the ball control, grind it out running game, and hard-nosed defense of Clayton Valley that has gotten the Uglies a CIF state Bowl Game championship. They had tried to spread it out a bit both in the pandemic-shortened spring season and early on this season but it wasn’t working the way head coach Tim Murphy had hoped.

“We went back to our old offense and got 400-plus yards against a good team,” Murphy remarked. “Our team functions better off run play action.”

Of the 442 yards of total offense Clayton Valley racked up, 387 of it was on the ground. Rahsaan Woodland II, a 5-9, 185-pound senior workhorse-like running back in the style Murphy has developed the past several years, didn’t find the end zone but had 28 carries for 185 yards.

Senior quarterback Brenden Bush threw just four passes and completed three for 55 yards, but, according to Murphy, the fourth pass looked like it could be a big gainer but didn’t get caught.

“Bush is a heck of a quarterback and we’ll get him more opportunities to throw,” Murphy said.

Clayton Valley (2-1) scored first on a short run by Jordan Barbadillo. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound senior, who was in his first game back after a collarbone injury, had 87 yards rushing and the one score.

Liberty (3-1) answered back with a short touchdown run by quarterback Carson Woods and it was 7-7 at the half.

Bush, who also had 35 yards rushing, gave the Uglies the lead for good at 14-7 with a 4-yard power run early in the fourth quarter.

Liberty running back Jalen Hankins (72 yards rushing) scored on an exciting run midway through the fourth quarter but Clayton Valley forced a missed PAT.

“We brought three guys on our left against one blocker on their right,” Murphy said. “Their kicker tried to avoid our guys and missed left.”

From there, Murphy looked to Woodland to grind it out and that’s exactly what happened.

“We annihilated the clock,” Murphy said with a chuckle.

After all was said and done the Clayton Valley defense only gave up 182 yards of total offense.

Woodland was named Clayton Valley MVP and Bush was the sportsmanship/character winner.

On another note of interest, Murphy dropped a somewhat exclusive bombshell. He may not retire as was previously announced. Longtime assistant Nick Tisa had already been elevated to a co-head coach position and was primed to take the reins with Murphy’s departure.

“With the group of kids we have at all three levels, Tisa being such an awesome co-head coach, and the Superintendent being so supportive, I may not be able to pull the trigger,” Murphy said.

Clovis East-Fresno 35, Heritage 14

After cross-town arch rival Liberty won its game on Friday night, Heritage had hoped to win a second Honor Bowl game for the city of Brentwood, but with a few key linemen out, the Patriots were unable to match up with Clovis East in the trenches.

Clovis East (3-0) got two rushing touchdowns each from senior Devin Lopez and sophomore Nick Sandoval. Lopez, who was named the Timberwolves MVP, finished with 125 yards rushing. Sandoval, who got the sportsmanship/character award, added 74 yards on the ground.

Heritage junior star Devon Rivers never got untracked and was getting hit almost as he took the handoff. He ended up with only 37 yards rushing on 18 carries but did bull his way in from 3 yards out for a touchdown.

Rivers did get to show some pizzazz on the second Heritage TD when he went 61 yards for a score on a pass from sophomore quarterback Jacob Wasso. The last 40 yards he danced on the sideline and then blew past the last two defenders to paydirt. Rivers was named the MVP for Heritage.

Menlo-Atherton 34, Pleasant Valley-Chico 0

Menlo-Atherton may have come into the game 0-2 but one of the losses was 56-41 to a Bellarmine team that is proving to be a powerhouse, and the other loss was 44-33 to Oregon No. 3 ranked Tulatin.

Pleasant Valley is one of the top teams in the CIF Northern Section but not in the same league as the Bears first two opponents, hence the rout.

Highly regarded senior wide receiver Jalen Moss had six catches for 124 yards and three TDs and also had an interception on defense.

Senior quarterback Matt MacLeod was 9-of-17 passing for 196 yards and three touchdowns.

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