Su’a Cravens of Vista Murrieta is the best football player in the Inland Empire, really? When it comes to game-changing abilities on both sides of the ball, it’s a no contest. Though just a junior, Cravens looks like a college player on the football field, from his physical characteristics to his instincts to his advanced athletic abilities. Cravens pretty much single handedly defeated Chaparral, 27-10, in a Southwestern League opener Friday night. He scored on a 17-yard catch and run on third and 16 to give the Broncos a 14-10 lead in the third quarter, caused and recovered a fumble at the Vista Murrieta seven-yard line with the Broncos still clinging to a four-point lead with about four minutes remaining in the game and then intercepted a pass on Chaparral’s next possession and returned it 27 yards for a game-sealing touchdown. He could probably boot long field goals too, but the Broncos are pretty well set in that department (see below).
Which teams in the I.E. combined to set a state record last weekend? Big Bear and Desert Hot Springs needed eight overtimes to settle their De Anza League game Friday night in the desert. Big Bear finally won, 56-50, when Lucas Jenkins scored on a nine-yard run after Desert Hot Springs failed to get points on its previous possession. The score was tied, 22-22, after four quarters. The previous state record for overtimes was seven in 1991, when Perris defeated Palm Springs, 70-62. The national record is 12 overtime periods. It just so happens Big Bear was also involved in one of the state’s longest softball games. The Bears needed 30 innings over two days to defeat San Jacinto, 3-2, in 2001.
What was the next-best game in the I.E. last weekend? Serrano and Apple Valley needed just one overtime in their Mojave River League game, but it was a classic matchup of undefeated High Desert teams. Serrano, the two-time defending league champion, scored on a 39-year field goal by Leo Farias with 7.5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to tie the score, 17-17. Apple Valley, which was seeking its first victory over the Diamondbacks since 2006, had to settle for a 46-yard field goal by Jonathan Gonzales on the first overtime possession. Serrano then handed the ball to Adarius Hogan on five consecutive snaps and he scored on a one-yard run on the final carry for the game-winning touchdown.
While on the subject of kickers, who has the best leg in the I.E. this season? We’ll have to point toward Vista Murrieta for this title as well. Tyler Rausa is second in the Southern Section with nine field goals in 13 attempts. He has a long of 50 yards, which ties him for the fifth-longest kick in the section. He showed his leg in the 27-10 victory Friday night against Chaparral, attempting field goals of 55 and 54 yards. Both had the distance but were just wide left. Rausa has 21 field goals in his three-year varsity career at Vista Murrieta. The Southern Section record for career field goals is 33, shared by Luis Zendejas of Don Lugo (1977-80) and Chris Sailer of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (1992-94).
Who is the most unheralded player in the I.E.? Coming into the season, Upland senior Christian Powell wasn't very high on many recruiting lists. Perhaps it was because he transferred from Alta Loma before his junior season, where he was buried within a losing program. But the 5-foot-11, 250-pound fullback/defensive end is one of the key reasons the Highlanders are 6-0 heading into their Baseline League showdown Friday night against visiting Rancho Cucamonga. Upland coach Tim Salter calls Powell the best blocker on an offense that averages 41 points a game, and he has a team-high nine sacks and 50 tackles on defense. Some recruiters are beginning to take notice, however. Powell reportedly received his second offer last week, an open invitation to play fullback at Nebraska.