Don Bauder 3:39 p.m., Jan. 31
Division IV: Mission Bay vs Valley Center
Baxter carries Bucs to section title
On a rainy, muddy Saturday night at Southwestern College, one thing was clear – there’s no stopping Dillon Baxter. Mission Bay’s quarterback ran for 384 yards and record-tying seven touchdowns as the Buccaneers rolled over Valley Center 48-17 in the Division IV finals.
“I’m just glad we got our ring,” Baxter said. “We’ve been working all season. Ever since August coach Matson was telling the team how much of a memory this would be. It’s a blessing.”
Mission Bay delivered the knockout blow on a two-play sequence late in the second quarter. With the ball deep in Buccaneers territory and trailing 21-3, Valley Center fumbled and on the next play Baxter took the shotgun snap and ran 92 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.
“Coach said he needed a big play, so I told the o-line let’s just go ahead and finish this half off to win it,” Baxter said. “The o-line said okay and we took care of it. We were hoping for a touchdown.”
Seventeen seconds into the second half, Baxter found the endzone from 88 yards out to put Mission Bay ahead 35-3. That score would be more than enough for the Buccaneers (13-0) to cap an undefeated season with a section title.
“I’ve been telling coach Matson ever since my freshman year that I’d get him one,” Baxter said. “We came up short twice, but the third time is the charm.”
Baxter finishes the season with 2,974 rushing yards, eclipsing the single-season record of 2,866 yards that Tyler Gaffney (Cathedral Catholic) set in 2008. Baxter also threw for 1,938 yards.
“My O-line did a tremendous job tonight. Without them I couldn’t have done any of this,” Baxter said. “To me that’s the best O-line I could have and I thank them for it.”
The Buccaneers won their first section title since 2001 and first Division IV championship in three tries. The championship is also the first in head coach Willie Matson’s tenure at Mission Bay.
“I got a great coaching staff, the kids bought into what we were doing. You persevere, you believe in each other and this is the result,” Matson said. “The unity and that feeling of getting something accomplished – you can’t beat it.”
In a losing effort, Valley Center running back Stanton Upson rushed for 253 yards on 48 carries. Upson finished the season with 2,134 yards.
“He’s a warrior. He does that every game,” said Valley Center head coach Rob Gilster. “He’s a tough grinder and hopefully he’ll get a chance to play in college.”
As for the rest of the Jaguars (11-2), the finished the season short of a third consecutive section title. Valley Center’s only losses came to unbeatens – Mission Bay and Oceanside.
“It was a great year. It’s a tough one when you have to go out like this. They’re a great football team and Dillon’s great player,” Gilster said. “We didn’t have an answer tonight.”