Buena takes the win against Ventura in intense hometown rivalry football game


Luigirey Guce

Buena gets in position to make an attempt at a first down.

Nisha Reddy and Julia Geib

To the rest of the world, the night of Oct. 8 may have marked any other evening, but in Ventura, California, it meant the annual rivalry football game between Buena High School (Buena) and Ventura High School (Ventura) was being played. 

After the year prior, when Buena had taken their first victory in over a decade, tension filled every corner of Buena’s home field, nervous to see if they could create a new winning streak, or if Ventura would ultimately return to their winning ways. In the end, Buena hoisted the Suzanne Brown Memorial Trophy for the second year in a row after quarterback and kicker Zane Carter ‘23 nailed a field goal as the clock ran down to zeros to secure a 10-7 victory.

Ventura won the coin toss and began the game with a possession, but excluding some gains by Joseph Peña ‘23, the offense was stagnant and the ball was given over to the Bulldogs.

 Buena struggled similarly with the ball, and the first one and a half quarters showcased little in the way of offense. Around halfway through the second quarter with the ball back in the Cougars’ hands, the Bulldog defense made errors assisting the Cougars’ advancement toward the opponents’ endzone. To conclude the drive, Ventura quarterback Logan Scarlett ‘24 finally completed the first touchdown of the game to Peña to go into the half up 7-0.

Despite the fear that Ventura may take back the trophy, Buena kept up their positivity during the halftime break and never once showed signs of being discouraged. Kyle Banks ‘23 remarked, “We knew it would be a fight but I trusted our teammates.”

The start of the second half afforded Buena the break they desperately needed when Ventura fumbled away the opening possession, which the Bulldogs eagerly pounced on.

Buena quarterback Zane Carter ’23 scrambles in the pocket to find an open man downfield. (Aidan Gomez)

Capitalizing on their newfound momentum, the ball moved swiftly from Carter to wide receiver Colin Guenther ‘23, who outran the Cougar defense and completed a 50 yard run for the game-tying touchdown. Following a successful extra point, the scoreboard read 7-7.

Now without a lead, Ventura received the following kickoff from the Bulldogs with increased intensity, and a 60 yard run made the whole crowd go wild. However, a penalty was called, and Ventura was forced to walk back to the 10 yard line in order to start their offensive drive.

After a break at the quarter, Ventura continued their possession with a completion before the game was stopped to accommodate four streakers running across the field. This gave the teams time to take a quick break before they reached the minute mark in the final quarter of the game. Buena’s Talan Staniland ‘24 spoke regarding the team’s performance when it mattered most, “We all play like a family and make plays when we need to.”

As the last 60 seconds of the game began, Ventura started from the 40 yard line. Scarlett threw a slow ball that ended up in the hands of the Bulldogs for a breathtaking interception. With just 42 seconds left, Buena focused up and made quick plays in order to get them closer to the goal line. 

As the clock ticked down, Buena made the decision to kick a field goal. With four seconds remaining on the scoreboard, the ball sailed through the goalposts on a kick by Carter, leaving Buena with the victory, 10-7.

Queen’s “We Are The Champions” played on Buena’s side as students and parents sprinted to the field to form a congratulatory circle around the players. The trophy was hoisted by the Bulldogs as the Cougars walked off the field, sweaty and defeated. The second consecutive win after a long losing streak left the Bulldogs smiling at what they accomplished. 

Reflecting on the win, Plahn exclaimed, “There’s not really a feeling like it, I mean you can beat the best team in the country that’s great but to beat your cross team rivals, that’s the best feeling in the world.”

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