BARSTOW • The curse of the Cougars was finally lifted on Friday night.
The Aztecs beat the Cougars for 10-straight years, and they had outscored them by nearly 200 points in those 10 meetings. However, that streak was snapped on Friday night when Granite Hills beat Barstow 14-0 during the Aztecs' homecoming game and the first Desert Sky League game of 2010 for both teams.
The Cougars gathered on the visitors side of the field following the game jumping up and down and cheering with a few slurs against the Aztecs mixed in. The cheering grew into a repetitive chant of "What is this? The house of hurt. Forget their house of pain. It's the house of hurt." Several Cougar players said the words were meant to reflect the decline of the Aztecs long standing tradition of calling their field the House of Pain and the rise of Granite Hills football program under coach Joel Hurtt. Just as the chanting died out Hurtt got hurt himself when a cooler of ice cold water was spilled on him in celebration and knocked his head slightly.
"It feels pretty darn good," Hurtt said. "I'm pretty freaking excited and so are the kids. I think it's the result of a couple things, but mostly the program getting established. We had a close game back in 2006, but we couldn't close them out, but we sure did tonight. It's our second-straight shut out. We're getting on a roll."
Granite Hills' defense shut Alta Loma down in their 24-0 win on October 1 before its October 8 bye. The Cougars kept the intensity going against Barstow. Granite Hills didn't allow Barstow into the redzone at any point in the game. The key to their defense proved to be their lineman. Granite Hills defensive line was effective at controlling the Aztecs' passing and rushing offense.
Barstow was unable to establish a passing game and quarterback Steven Deverell was flushed out of the pocket and sacked three times for a loss of 29 yards. He was also forced to scramble three times for 12 total yards that resulted in two punts and a turnover on downs. Deverell had a 46 percent completion rate for 68 yards in the game.
The Aztec had similar difficulties on the ground. Tracy Venable averaged four yards a carry on his way to 124 yards against Sultana last week, but was limited to 57 yards against the Cougars. Barstow's entire ground game dropped from 144 total rushing yards last week to 101 against Granite Hills.
"They won the battle up front," Barstow coach Jose Rubio said. "We just couldn't get any offensive production, and it came down to the battle of the line. We have a couple new guards stepping in to take on the new positions because we have a player out. We've had to adjust."
Granite Hills linemen also helped them grind out their two touchdowns. Maleak Williams ran a punt from Barstow's Christopher Smalls back 33 yards to set up a nine play touchdown drive in the second quarter. The Cougars' line created holes allowing running back Antawaun Jones to pick up short yardage repeatedly until quarterback Collin Willis hit Elijah Henderson for an eight-yard touchdown pass. Granite Hills led 7-0 at halftime. The Cougars double back system of Wavon Parker and Jones pushed Granite Hills into Barstow territory at the start of the fourth quarter. Willis then hit Walter Parker on a 35-yard route to the two-yard line. Jones finished the job with a two-yard touchdown run with six minutes left on the clock.
Barstow went four and out on their next drive and was unable to get past its own 40-yard line on their final drive before turning the ball over on down with under a minute remaining. Willis took a knee when the Cougars got the ball and ran the clock out to end the game.