HS Insider

Ventura defeats Buena in a close win at 52nd rivalry game


With no time left on the clock and the crowd on their feet buzzing with anticipation, Ventura High School won their sixth victory in a row against rival Buena High School at Larrabee Stadium Friday night. The win defends Ventura’s Channel League football title.

Buena senior AJ Duffner hikes the ball to Quarterback and senior Martin Mijares to start off the play during Friday night’s game. Credit: Jessie Snyder/The Foothill Dragon Press

Ventura started off the game with a kickoff to Buena. The ball landed out of bounds. Buena began at the 35-yard-line pushing forwards until junior Juan Gaytan scored a touchdown from the one-yard line with 10:14 left on the clock.

With the kicker completing the extra point, the first quarter ended with a score of 7-0, Buena.

The second quarter slowed down to a halt. Neither teams were able to score, leading to nonvocal bleachers for both teams. With no points on the board for either team, the score of the second quarter ended 7-0 in Buena’s favor.

Ventura scored a touchdown leaving 3:34 left in the third quarter. The play was made by Foothill senior Roan Moran after a 50-yard run down the field. The touchdown put both teams on equal footing, leaving the score 7-7.

Momentum from Ventura built during the fourth quarter, as junior Michael Morrissey made a field goal with 5:28 left on the clock, bringing the score up to 10-7.

Fans exploded as Buena retaliated with a touchdown by senior Anthony Tennison with only 1:14 left on the clock.

With Buena’s touchdown, Buena regained the lead, 14-10. With less than a minute left, the anxiety in the air grew.

Ventura marched down the field and with four seconds left in the game, senior Tyler Smith threw a faulty pass. A penalty flag was thrown into the air and gave the Cougars a untimed final play.

The crowd held their breath as Ventura senior Zach Sourwine caught a pass in the end zone, winning the trophy for Ventura with no time left.

The Cougar team rushed the field, crowding around Sourwine and the Suzanne Brown Memorial Trophy which is awarded to the annual winner of the cross-town rivalry game.



To Sourwine, winning was “the best feeling in the world under the lights.”

“Just the rivalry and just the huge tradition behind this game really motivated us to do well. We knew this game was really important,” he said. “It was awesome.”

Ventura player junior Daniel Castro “knew [Ventura] had to play hard” and pointed out the criticism towards the team before the game.

“It was a rough first half. It was a close one but our whole team prospered and we did what we needed to do to get the win. We took it on as one of those rivalries where you can’t mess up,” he said. “We faced a lot of criticism going into this game. Calling us ‘underdogs’ and in the end we know who won.”

Buena Coach Matt Villegas had a different view of who should have won the game and what the outcome of playoffs will be.

“I think we’ll find out who the true champion of this city is, without biased referees [but], it’s tough for a referee to make a call like that to make a difference in the game,” Villegas said.

Villegas felt that although Buena lost, he was “proud” of the way the team had played.

“I felt like it was a courageous, gutty effort. Our guys came and played their guts out [and] they did more than what we could have asked for as a team for us,” Villegas said.



Both teams will be going to Channel League playoffs and Villegas is looking forward to how his team plays.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys and I’m looking forward to the run that we make into the playoffs,” he said.

To Castro there was a lot of pride in winning the game.

“We have three Channel League titles in a row. We take pride in that. It feels great holding that Suzanne Brown trophy,” he said. “A lot of the guys, especially on the Buena side, they don’t know what it means.”

-Ryan Moore

Background Photo Credit: Sarah Kagan/The Foothill Dragon Press

Aniah McKenzie contributed to the article.

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