VICTORVILLE • When Silverado got off to an 0-5 start and the offense was averaging fewer than 10 points per game, the Hawks could have given up on their season and started counting down until next year.
But they didn't, and their refusal to quit was rewarded Thursday night as the Hawks routed Barstow 41-6 to clinch the outright Desert Sky League title and finish the regular season on a five-game winning streak. The Hawks also ran their regular season winning streak against the Aztecs to eight.
"It feels great to be alone at the top," senior linebacker Victor Iosefa said. "We came out and fought and a lot of people had doubts about us after the 0-5 start. It was good to come out and prove people wrong. It says a lot about the team. We pulled together and fought through the adversity."
The league title is the Hawks' sixth in the past eight years, and the fifth outright.
"Things worked out the way we wanted them to," Silverado coach Carl Posey said. "Obviously we didn't get off to a great start. ... The guys stuck with it and understood the message and knew the history that we've done things like this a couple of times. I'm not gonna lie, it was rough, but we had a great core of kids that worked their butts off every day at practice and it paid off."
Silverado (5-5, 4-0 DSL) finished the job early, jumping out to a 34-0 halftime lead behind a dominant defense and an explosive offense. Quarterback Rishon Perez threw touchdown passes of 26, 28 and 53 yards in the half and Tyree Johnson returned a punt 62 yards in the big-play outburst, while the Hawks defense held Barstow (1-9, 0-4 DSL) to just 18 yards and two first downs in the half.
Perez finished the game 4 of 7 for 110 yards with three TD passes before sitting the entire second half, along with all of the rest of Silverado's starters on both sides of the ball.
"(Perez) has matured so rapidly," Posey said. "He's a much different kid than he was six weeks ago. He pays a lot more attention in practice to the little things. He's getting better at his ball fakes and he's throwing the ball more confidently now."
For Barstow's second straight game, the entire second half was played with a running clock because the Aztecs trailed by such a large margin.
James Noble scored Barstow's only touchdown of the game when he burst down the left sideline in the third quarter for a 68-yard touchdown run. Noble finished the game with 163 yards on 26 carries. All but 11 of those yards came in the second half.
While the year finished on a high note for the Hawks, it marked the end of a long season for the Aztecs, whose only win came via forfeit.
Barstow was outscored 378-65 on the year, did not win a league game for the second straight year, and had only about 20 players in uniform for the finale.
"The most positive thing this year is we've played a lot of juniors and we've got a lot of things to build on," Barstow head coach Mike Esposito said. "We've got a full offseason with these guys, and we're going to be a lot better next year. We were in some games against Granite and Burroughs and Sultana. We've got a decent JV team. ... We're gonna build it back up, one brick at a time."
Barstow 0 0 6 0 — 6
Silverado 20 14 0 7 — 41
S — Williams 28 pass from Perez (Velasco kick)
S — Brokenbough 53 pass from Perez (kick failed)
S — Coleman 2 run (Velasco kick)
S — McCain 26 pass from Perez (Velasco kick)
S — Johnson 62 punt return (Velasco kick)
B — Noble 68 run (kick failed)
S — Moore 12 run (Velasco kick)