Late Game Heroics Give Jets Sixth Straight Island Bowl Win

Yongqian Li --  Encinal players celebrate winning the 67th Island Bowl on September 23 at Thompson Field.
Yongqian Li -- Encinal players celebrate winning the 67th Island Bowl on September 23 at Thompson Field.

Late Game Heroics Give Jets Sixth Straight Island Bowl Win

As Alameda High School (AHS) scored what looked to be the game-tying touchdown, Hornet head coach Robin Morris had only one thing on his mind, to go for the win. Trailing 19-18 with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Hornets, who hadn’t attempted an extra point the entire game, went for the two-point conversion and the lead. However, quarterback Eli Slez had his pass batted down by Encinal High School (EHS) senior Aiden Letson, giving the Jets their closest Island Bowl win in the past decade.

“Before the play all that was going through anyone’s head was just make a play,” said Letson. “My team was pumped and we wanted this win more than anything. Marques Singleton made a quick adjustment and we switched positions before the play started and, as a team, we were locked in.”

Neither team scored after the failed two-point attempt. Encinal (1-4) defeated Alameda (2-2-1) 19-18 at Thompson Field on September 23 in the 67th Island Bowl. For the Jets, it was their 13th Island Bowl victory in the past 15 years. The Hornets last won the rivalry game in 2015.

“It was really important to not just me but to our team,” said EHS freshman Sefanaia Auelua. “...brought our school spirit up. It was also a really crazy experience as me being a freshman on varsity and winning my first island bowl after generations before me. It was a collective effort on everybody's part.”

The scoring started when running back turned quarterback Tristan Berena ran in a touchdown in the first quarter to make it 6-0.

“Very much needed win,” said Berena. “I had to step up and play a position that was out of my comfort zone but got the job done.”

The junior started under center for the first time this season. He threw one touchdown and rushed for another.

The Hornets struck right back, with junior A’Juan Parker catching a touchdown to tie the game at 6-6.

Both defenses stood firm for most of the half. But with 6 seconds left before half, Berena launched a 30-yard bomb to senior receiver Marques Singleton to give Encinal a 12-6 lead going into the break.

“After the play I told [Tristan] great ball,” said Singleton, an WACC All-League receiver. “But thank you to Kenneth coming in cause the safety shaded his way once.”

With the home crowd on its side, AHS scored again on a quarterback sneak from the one-yard line in the third quarter to make it 12-12. Another failed two-point conversion by the Hornets left the game tied.

Later in the quarter, senior playmaker Kenneth Lorenzo took a handoff to the right, found himself trapped, and cut back to the left for a 20-yard touchdown run. The play, 80 stretch, was originally designed to go to the right.

“I felt like I had a chance to score,” said Lorenzo. “I was watching and coach told me to go in and I knew what I was going to do before I got the ball…scoring late in the game always feels good.”

Senior Trevor Marsh converted the first, and only, extra point of the night to give the Jets a 19-12 lead.

Despite a decade of Encinal dominance the Hornets still lead the Island Bowl series 33-32-2.

AHS will next face San Lorenzo High on October 7 on the road in its first league contest. EHS will next play Castro Valley High on October 7 on the road.

Joshua Linville teaches the Publication Design class at Encinal High School.

Arianna Zalder   Sefanaia Auelua and Kaleb Westbrooks receive instruction from their coach during the fourth quarter of the Island Bowl.