PERENNIAL doormat University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) showed it’s a different animal this year and barged right into contention in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) high school football tournament. USJ-R, which lost to multi-champion Don Bosco Technological Center (DBTC), 27-0, last year showed why it’s a title contender this year with a 1-0 win, its first over DBTC in the 18-year history of the league.
On the other hand, Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu got its second straight win, while the University of San Carlos-Basic Education Department (USC-BED) beat a plucky University of Southern Philippines Foundation (USPF), 2-1.
USJ-R, which needed a last-minute strike from Dustin Ramirez to salvage a draw against USPF in its first game, again leaned on the brilliance of Ramirez in the 16th minute to take a 1-0 lead. USJ-R, which hasn’t made the semis of the Cesafi, held on in the second half as DBTC pushed for an equalizer.
“You can’t say there’s a favorite to win in the high school division unlike in previous years,” said Cesafi tournament director Francis Ramirez.
USJ-R got a big boost this year with the entry of some of DBTC’s players.
“The game was physical but the players were OK. There was nothing untoward,” said Ramirez.
In the last game, USC-BED showed it has recovered from its opening day loss to Ateneo after surviving a game USPF for its first win in the tournament.
Jascha Tabar’s free header in the 38th minute gave USC the lead and early in the first half Johnreil Eldian’s foot-save off a Roberto Aguilar shot preserved for the scoreline. A few minutes later, Aguilar again dribbled his way through the USC defense but the ball went to Dave Arrizala, whose shot sailed wide.
Four minutes later, it was Joshua Labarez’s turn to go for the equalizer but his free header off a corner was just wide. USPF also got another gift after referee Dave Intong slapped Eldian with a violation for taking too long to clear the ball.
However, USPF’s free kick bounced off the USC wall, which led to a counter attack from the left. Ruschien Harl Barbon then found Agustus Canoy free just above the USPF box with keeper Mike Española caught off position. Canoy feigned once then shot past the off-balanced keeper to make it 2-0.
USPF finally got on the tally sheet after a USC defender’s mis-kick led to a hand ball and Aguilar sent the keeper the wrong way. John Vincent Castanas also got a chance, getting free inside the box but he couldn’t control a brilliant cross.
Jimmy Rubio also got a chance for USPF, but his effort outside the box was just high and moments later, Frederick Marcus’ teasing free kick forced Eldian to another save to preserve the win.
USC has re-tooled its program this year, giving the reins of its high school football team to collegiate coach Allan Medalla.
Meanwhile, Ateneo got its second straight win after blanking guest team Sisters of Mary Boys Town, 3-0. Mathew Suico got the opener in the 7th minute, Joseph Lumapas made it 2-0 in the 13th, while Leo Maquiling scored his second goal this season in the 81st.
Ateneo now leads the standings at six points, while USJ-R finds itself in a unique position at second with four points. USC-BED is third at three points, while USPF, DBTC and SMS have yet to win.
This Saturday, Ateneo will take on USJ-R, DBTC will face USPF and USC-BED will take on SMS Boystown. (ML)