Weeks ago, with no prompting, San Diego High head football coach Charles James said he considers Raiden Hunter the best junior running back in the county.
Not the best in the Central League. Not the best in the city. San Diego County’s best junior.
Friday night at Kearny, in a showdown of Central unbeatens, Hunter backed up his coach’s claim. The brutish, 5-foot-9, 190-pound Hunter was handed the ball 17 times and responded with 270 yards and two touchdowns as the Cavers clobbered Kearny 34-7 at Birt Slater Field.
San Diego is now 7-0 (2-0 in league), the first time since 1958 the Cavers have been unbeaten this late in a season. Kearny drops to 6-1 and 1-1.
In the first half, Hunter rattled off runs of 81 and 42 yards. In the second half, he zipped off a 77-yard TD. His other score came from 8 yards.
“Ride that horsey!” Cavers assistant coach Ray Mason cried from the press box in the first half.
“He’s eatin’ tonight,” wailed assistant coach Daniel White.
Asked to describe Hunter’s style, James referenced the Raiders’ Marshawn Lynch.
“Beast Mode,” said James. “That’s another Beast Mode.”
Kearny’s Brenton Bell came into the game as the section’s leading rusher with 1,192 yards. But the mob-tackling Cavers silenced Bell, limiting him to 4 yards on 14 carries.
Hunter came into the game with 493 yards on 55 carries, a 9-yard average. His updated numbers: 72 carries, 763 yards and 10 TDs. He’s being recruited by Cal, San Diego State and Boise State.
“I was just trying to catch up to Brenton,” said Hunter. “Kearny was talking smack all week. We wanted to come out and spank them.”
He gave his offensive line mad props.
“I had fat holes,” he said. “You saw those runs. Some of them, I was untouched.”
But on many of them, he banged, bounced and bullied off defenders.
Speaking of defenders, San Diego calls its defense “The Dark Side” and it turned the lights off on the Komets. Kearny came in averaging 39.7 points. Kearny scored one first-quarter TD, set up by a Bell interception.
The rest of the night, the Komets scored zip.
Jayden Wickware intercepted two passes. Despite a bum ankle, Thomas Marcus intercepted a pass, scored on a 4-yard run, plus made a spectacular touchdown-saving tackle after a long sprint. Marcus not only saved a TD, but stripped the receiver and recovered the fumble.
Earlier in the day, he committed to the University of Arizona.
As the final seconds ticked down, the San Diego crowd, which packed the visitors’ stands, chanted, “Seven-and-oh! Seven-and-oh!”
It’s developing into a memorable season for the Cavers, who have been playing football since 1891. Despite a storied history that includes two mythical national championships, the Cavers have won only one San Diego Section title. And that one was shared, in 1969, with Escondido High. No doubt, come November, they will be a factor in Division IV.
As he gathered his team after Friday’s latest celebration, James told his players, “The way you guys brought it (Friday night), I see us winning the rest of the season.”
For one night, he would get few arguments.
Norcross is a freelance writer.
Read More at: https://electricleesd.com