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Title Fits Redlands to a Tee

Football: Terriers stop Rialto, 30-7, for first league championship since 1977 and complete 10-0 regular season.

November 10, 2001|BEN BOLCH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The celebration was as much orchestrated as it was spontaneous. But after winning their first Citrus Belt League title in 24 years, Redlands High players were in no mood to complain.

The Terriers exchanged mini-hugs and chants of "CBL, baby!" near the end of a 30-7 victory over Rialto that clinched the league title outright before about 5,000 at the University of Redlands. A few moments later, players dumped the liquid contents of a cooler on Coach Jim Walker.

Then, after a quick break to pose for a team picture, the Terriers, No. 8 in The Times' regional rankings, raced to the locker room to embark on the part of the celebration that was 10 years in the making.

Redlands had purchased a box of league champion T-shirts late in the 1992 season in anticipation of a victory that would have given it a share of the league title. But the Terriers lost, and the shirts were exiled to the back of a football office--until Walker pulled them out for inspection earlier his week.

The only possible snag Walker found was that the shirts seemed a bit small.

"An extra large 10 years ago is a large now," Walker said. "The girth of the players has changed. They might fit a little tight."

Redlands running back Ryan Rogers, who caught three passes for 139 yards and returned a kickoff for a touchdown, said he didn't care.

"I'll wear it around town every day," Rogers said. "It feels so great."

The league title was the Terriers' first since 1977, when they finished in a three-way tie, and first outright title since 1974. It is Redlands' first 10-0 start since 1952.

Redlands (10-0, 5-0), which scored two touchdowns in the second half to pull away after leading 16-7 at halftime, probably will enter next week's Southern Section Division I playoffs as the No. 2 seed behind Long Beach Poly.

"I can't even explain how excited I am," said Terrier running back Herman McBroom, who rushed for 76 yards and a second-half touchdown.

No. 25 Rialto (7-3, 3-2), which will enter the playoffs as the No. 3 team from the league behind Redlands and Eisenhower, kept the game close until committing two turnovers in the third quarter.

Rialto Coach Don Markham publicly ripped his team for a lack of character earlier in the week, but Knight running back Dramayne McElroy, who rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown in 15 carries, said the criticism didn't affect his teammates.

"He tells us that all the time," McElroy said of Markham's choice words. "We do mess up a lot. But no team is perfect."

Rialto's discipline problems continued this week when school administrators suspended the team's starting center.

"It's the saddest bunch of kids," Markham said. "But 16 or 17 of them, I'd trust with my life."

Rialto led midway through the first quarter when McElroy bounced off a tackler and sprinted for a 54-yard touchdown.

But the lead lasted only 16 seconds. Redlands' Zach James fielded the ensuing kickoff at the one-yard line and handed off on a reverse at the 10 to Rogers, who bolted the remaining 90 yards for a 99-yard touchdown.

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