Vista Beats San Dieguito Down Stretch, 27-20

With the Palomar League championship at stake here Friday night, all No. 1-ranked Vista High School had to do was turn to its meal ticket.

The Panthers (6-0 in conference, 10-0 overall) called on running back Tommy Booker six times on a final drive late in the fourth quarter and Booker--the leading rusher in the county--toppled San Dieguito High’s upset dreams.

Booker gained 61 yards in the final two minutes, including a 3-yard touchdown run with 1:33 remaining to give Vista a 27-20 victory and probably the No. 1 seeding in the upcoming San Diego Section playoffs.

“You’re not very smart if you don’t turn to your meal ticket with the game on the line,” Vista Coach Dick Haines said.


San Dieguito (5-1, 8-2), which had played the defending 3-A champions to a 20-20 stalemate for 3 1/2 quarters, was unable to answer Booker’s final challenge. Booker finished with 142 yards on 22 carries.

“We knew he was coming,” San Dieguito Coach Ed Burke said. “I was hoping maybe he’d get a cramp or something.”

Actually, Booker did get a cramp, a minor one. He got up, rushed twice more from the six-yard-line, and put the ball into the end zone.

“We needed one of those big cramps,” Burke said.


Earlier this week, Burke had decided he would need to try and establish a tough defense against Vista’s heralded running game.

He told his team that the first time Vista lined up in a power-I, all 11 defenders were to rush the line of scrimmage.

Vista lined up in the power-I on its first play and Burke’s team charged. However, Vista quarterback Bill Faraimo faked a handoff and passed downfield to a wide-open Greg Cook, who caught the pass and raced 72 yards for a 7-0 Vista lead.

“As it turned out, it was a horrible thing for me to do to my kids,” Burke said.


San Dieguito responded well, however. The Mustangs scored on their next two drives to take a 14-7 lead. Greg August scored on a 34-yard run to tie the game and, on the first play of the second quarter, Mark Horowitz scored on a 2-yard run.

Vista came back to take a 20-14 halftime lead on a 12-yard run by Marc Jones and a 47-yard touchdown pass from Faraimo to Jones.

San Dieguito tied the score with 7:11 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 32-yard scoring pass from Brett Ward to Tim Bray. Chad Embrey missed the extra point leaving the score tied, 20-20.

Then Vista got the ball and kept giving it to Booker. That was it.