In much the manner that it had methodically steamrolled 13 previous opponents, Fontana High School plowed its way to the Big Five Conference football title Friday night. To be sure, however, the Steelers were plowhorses who looked like thuroughbreds.
A 21-0 victory over Fountain Valley before a crowd of 18,532 at Anahiem Stadium was another showing of ball-control offense and winning in the trenches. Another showing of football in the Fontana tradition, this time good for the first Southern Section title in the sport in the 34-year history of the school.
"We came in with a game plan for everyone," Coach Dick Bruich said not long after taking a Gatorade bath at midfield, courtesy of some of his players. "I think we ran most every play we had, and most all of them worked."
In becoming the first team since St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs in 1981 to go undefeated in winning the Big Five title, Fontana (14-0) had no superstar, only plenty of heroes. That pretty much followed the script of a season in which the Steelers beat three of the top teams in the state, Vista of the San Diego Section, Eisenhower of Rialto in a crucial Citrus Belt League game, and Crespi of Encino last week in the semifinals.
Friday night, center stage belonged to several.
The running backs had the stats. Derrick Malone finished with 137 yards in 26 attempts and Edrian Oliver scored all 3 touchdowns while gaining 131 yards in 18 carries.
The offensive line dominated the trenches. The most impressive job was done by Chad Barron, a 6-foot 2-inch, 230-pounder who took on his more-publicized opponent, Fountain Valley defensive tackle Reza Mehdizadeh, and came away with a clear victory.
The defense made a 7-0 lead stand up until Fontana scored the other two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Fountain Valley (9-5) finished with 6 yards rushing on 20 attempts (a 0.3 average) and quarterback David Henigan went 9 for 19 for 90 yards through the air, including 2 of 11 for 20 yards in the second half.
Fontana controlled the line from the start, most notably right tackle Barron, a junior, neutralizing Mehdizadeh, a senior All-Big Five candidate. Barron deserves as much credit for the Steelers' first-quarter touchdown as Malone and Oliver.
Fontana's first possession was a 12-play, 68-yard drive that lasted 6:49 and culminated when Oliver swept right, got a key block from Barron and went in from 11 yards out with 2:51 to play in the first quarter. Malone had three gains of six yards or more on the drive, and Joe Bernal added the extra point.
Fountain Valley, which rebounded from an 0-4 start this season, was in position to tie the game early in the second quarter. The Barons, on a long drive of their own, reached the Fontana three-yard line before Courtney Dubar's fumble gave the ball back to the Steelers.
The Fontana lead went to 14-0 with 10:19 remaining in the game, as Oliver, who put the Steelers in scoring position with a 28-yard gain on a counter play to the left, got the same call and took it in for a 19-yard score. This time, Chris Ybarra had the key block on Fountain Valley's Ed Fischer.
The Steelers' next drive made it 21-0 while taking 6:40 off the clock. Oliver, driving off tackle, scored from 15 yards out.
"As far as the team concept is concerned, everybody threw a major block," said Oliver, who ran for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first-round win over St. Francis of La Canada. "That's what makes Fohi so special."
Friday night, it made them champions.