SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — While the members of the Hoover High football team took a knee near the end zone to listen to their coach, 50 yards away, Glendale High celebrated and chanted at Moyse Field.
“City champs, city champs, city champs,” the Nitros repeated.
Glendale's celebrations have become common after the schools' annual “Battle for the Victory Bell.”
For the fifth time in six years, the Nitros defeated the Tornadoes, frustrating Hoover with a 44-13 victory on Friday in the Pacific League and season finale for both teams.
The win, coupled with Glendale's victory against Crescenta Valley earlier this season, allowed the Nitros to win the city championship for the first time since 2003.
“I wanted to win this pretty bad,” Nitros senior wide receiver Michael Davis said. “I wanted to be city champs.”
Davis played an important role in helping Glendale (3-7, 2-5 in league) capture the city championship.
The BYU-bound standout took a pass from Kevin Felix at the line of scrimmage, broke an arm tackle, and outran every Tornado for an 85-yard touchdown. The score was the first and only play of the Nitros' second drive of the night, and it gave Glendale a 20-7 lead.
“I'm happy for all of the seniors,” Glendale first-year Coach John Tuttle said.
While he said good bye to his seniors, Tuttle also smiled at the idea that he will coach Daniel Jung for two more years.
Jung, a sophomore, had a career night, on offense and defense, scoring three total touchdowns.
Hoover started the game with a 38-yard run by Jesse Pina, and seemed primed to take a quick lead.
But two plays later, the Tornadoes (3-7, 1-6) fumbled the snap, and Jung was in perfect position to pick up the ball. No Tornado stood in his way and Jung returned the fumble 70 yards for a touchdown.
The Tornadoes' troubles continued on the ensuing kickoff.
Hoover fumbled the kickoff and Carlo Maquiddang recovered.
Five plays later, Glendale's Christian Osorio scored on a one-yard run for a 13-0 lead.
In less than three minutes of play, Hoover was already in a hole that it could not get out of.
“We're down, 13-0, and we haven't blinked yet,” said Tornadoes Coach Andrew Policky, whose team cut the Nitros' lead to six when Pina scored on a 40-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
“We were digging ourselves out of a whole the entire night.”
While Jung's first touchdown deflated the Tornadoes, his second score broke Hoover's spirit.
Hoover felt like it still had a chance to defeat Glendale, despite a 30-13 deficit. Jung took away all of the Nitros' hopes.
He intercepted an underthrown pass and returned it 59 yards for a second defensive touchdown and added a 36-yard scoring run in the fourth.
“We did a good job of executing on their mistakes,” said Tuttle, whose team had taken the 17-point lead when Martin Marin scored on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Felix in the third quarter. “We had not done that in the past.”
Glendale might have played its best game of the season while the Tornadoes might have played their worst.
Felix completed seven of nine passes for 132 yards and the Nitros ran for 183 yards without committing a turnover.
Hoover had three turnovers and had five fumbles.
Pina was solid, though, running for 107 yards in just nine carries. Pina also caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brendon Kerr, who threw for 140 yards, but misfired on his last six passes.
One of those incompletions came when one of his receivers dropped a ball without a defender near him in the fourth quarter. A catch would not have likely made a difference in the outcome, but it was symbolic of the Tornadoes' struggles.
“Not our night tonight,” Policky told one of his coaches after the drop.
It certainly was Glendale's night.