Friday, Sept. 7, 2018 | 11:59 p.m.
Smiles stretched across the faces of the entire Bonanza High football team as they hastily unrolled the banner at midfield.
Seniors grabbed the corners of the flag and marched toward their screaming fans in the bleachers with their teammates following closely behind.
It may be a $30 plastic banner with the logos of Bonanza and Spring Valley high schools, but to the kids at each school, it’s much more.
“It means everything,” Bonanza coach Dion Lee said. “It means pride, it means representing this area, and it’s very important for the kids — especially the seniors. It’s what we have to play for.”
Bonanza edged Spring Valley 20-13 Friday night in a game that came down to the final minute, winning back “the Banner” after losing it to the Grizzlies a year ago.
“It was a heartbreaking loss on this field during my junior year to lose the banner, and we had so many hungry seniors,” senior quarterback Kyle Allison said. “Our motto this week that our coaches preached to us was, ‘Do your job and make a play.’ All of us seniors knew we had to all do our job if we wanted to get the banner back.”
Allison completed 10-of-18 passes for 114 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He tossed a gorgeous fade pass in the back of the end zone to Armani Burns in the second quarter to give Bonanza a 13-7 lead.
In the second half, Allison took over with his legs, running for a game-high 104 yards.
“I trust my linemen,” Allison said. “They made gaping holes tonight that you could drive a truck through. In the offseason I worked on my speed to be a dual-threat quarterback, so I just trust it.”
Senior Cevion Gurka ran for 93 yards on only four carries, including an electrifying 60-yard touchdown scamper on an end-around play.
“We put people to sleep with the power run, then we use the speed on the edges and get out there,” Lee said. “We knew he was going to get some big plays. It’s just a matter of trusting your blockers, getting around that edge, and one cut and go.”
The Bengals defense kept Spring Valley and quarterback Mason DeCunzo contained throughout the game, holding the Grizzlies to only 135 yards of total offense.
The defensive line constantly pressured DeCunzo, forcing two sacks by Carlos Taylor and Brendan Rehmel-Quinones and a fumble in the backfield.
“The defense has been playing solid all year, to be honest,” Lee said. “They are disciplined. It’s about the little details and getting the most out of what we got. We bend and bend but don’t break.”
The win brings Bonanza’s record to 2-2 entering league play, but Friday night was about more than one in the win column.
“It’s an indescribable feeling when you’re holding that banner and everyone is behind you,” Allison said. “You have your home crowd, your teammates and all your family and friends. To hold it up in front of everybody after that win is one of the best feelings in the world.”