Tigers win, now on the hunt for CIF championship

Imperialquarterback Joseph Tarango reels back to throw against the visiting Patriots in game 1 of CIF playoffs.

IMPERIAL — The Imperial Tigers hosted the Patrick Henry Patriots Friday night in a first round matchup of the CIF San Diego Division III playoffs. Using a balanced attack, a stingy defense, and a 17-point second quarter, the number five seeded Tigers overpowered their opponent with a 41-0 victory.

After holding the Patriots to a three and out on the first possession of the game, it took the Tigers 12 plays to put the first points on the board with a Santiago De La Torre 28-yard field goal with 6:11 left in the first quarter.

Again holding the Patriot defense, senior running back Brandon Hueso broke the game open with a 49-yard rush, but an interception by Patriot defender Carlitos Nothaft put Patrick Henry’s offense back on the field.

After a three and out, it took the Tigers only two plays to put their first touchdown on the board, this one again involving De La Torre as he caught a 53-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Joey Tarango.

In an exchange of possessions and a Dakota Jones defensive interception for the Tigers, Imperial once again found the end zone, this time on a pass from Tarango to Joey Ramos from 11 yards out to put the Tigers up 17-0 after a successful two point conversion, and still 6:32 left in the first half.

Before the half, de la Torre added another field goal, this one from 31 yards out to give the Tigers a solid 20-0 lead going into halftime.

Starting the third quarter, Imperial took over at its own 39 and drove 61 yards for the score in ten plays with highlights in a fourth down conversion from Tarango to Michael Martinez to keep the drive alive. It ended with a 12-yard rush from Jay Ramos to give the Tigers a commanding 27-0 lead in the third quarter.

The Patriot offense threatened late in the game, but fell just yards short on each possession, while Imperial added two more scores, including a one yard rush from Brandon Hueso, and a Joey Tarango quarterback keeper, to push the score to its 41-0 final.

“I thought we played a pretty good game,” said Tiger Head Coach Kerry Legarra after the game.

“We’re getting closer and closer. We’ve got a couple things we need to work on, we had a couple breakdowns, but hopefully we’re peaking at the right time,” added Legarra.

For the night, Imperial’s Joey Tarango finished 10 of 24 with 177 yards and two touchdowns. He also had an interception on defense. Brandon Hueso finished with 189 yards on 19 carries and one touchdown.

Santiago De la Torre added three catches and 97 yards with one touchdown, while Diego Hernandez contributed nine total tackles with multiple in the backfield.

Up next, the Tigers will travel to San Diego’s Hilltop High School, the number four ranked Division III team in San Diego for a quarterfinal matchup.

“This is a new season, where it’s one and done, and so far we get to keep playing,” Legarre said.