Some chose to label it just another nonleague game, others prefered to call it redemption. Payback also came to mind.
Whatever. There's only one thing you definitely could not call Friday night's football game between Muir and Antelope Valley high schools.
The Antelopes from Lancaster, combining the all-around play of junior Tommie Smith with an opportunistic offense and a hard-hitting defense, defeated the Mustangs from Pasadena, 31-0, at Antelope Valley to snap the longest winning streak in the Southern Section at 27 in a rematch of the Coastal Conference championship game of 1986.
In a way, the game wasn't even that close. Antelope Valley, the eighth-ranked team in the Southern Section with a 4-0 record, missed a handful of other good scoring opportunities.
Smith, a bruising player on offense and defense, played fullback, tailback, tight end and outside linebacker and had a hand in three touchdowns. His blocked punt started things, his touchdown reception made it 14-0 at halftime, and his 30-yard interception return on a Muir flea-flicker with 9:44 left in the game made it 24-0. A Chris Yergensen 24-yard field goal in the third quarter and a Ron Whipple-to-Charles Hood 17-yard scoring pass took care of the rest of the scoring.
This was a game that had a couple of key "last times" as factors for the buildup, even beyond the fact that it was No. 1 in the Coastal Conference (Antelope Valley) against No. 2 (Muir).
For one, the last time a streak came to town. Canyon of Canyon Country, riding a 46-game winning string, the longest active run in the nation, was stopped here last season.
For another, the last time Muir and Antelope Valley played--last December for the Coastal title. The Mustangs won, 37-0, even scoring on the last play of the game on a fake punt, a run-it-up kind of move that stuck with the Antelopes.
"There probably hasn't been a day that's gone by that I haven't thought about it," Coach Brent Newcomb said a week before the season began. "I've got to get it out of my system, and the players do, too."
Friday night, they started on the recovery early.
Before Whipple (nine touchdowns in the first three games) even got the ball, Antelope Valley had a 7-0 lead. The special teams got the Antelopes started when Smith blocked a punt by Muir's Kenton Hampton at the Mustang four-yard line that was recovered by Mike Soto in the end zone with 7:28 left in the first quarter.
Hampton played a decisive role in the next Antelope Valley score, again one he would like to forget. His 10-yard punt gave the Antelopes possession at the Muir 30. Moments later, Antelope Valley had a two-touchdown lead on Whipple's 14-yard scoring lob to Smith with 11:08 left in the first half.
No. 14 Muir (3-1), whose defense had allowed a combined 10 points in the first three games, got 114 yards in passing from Tarrel Amos in the first half, but an 0 for 7 performance in the second.
Afterward, Newcomb downplayed the pay-back motive. "It really wasn't for revenge," he said.
But the crowd wanted no part of calling off the dogs. With a minute left in the game, it was chanting, "38! 38! 38!."