As the holiday season approaches, the Pomona Panthers have already had an early start at receiving gifts. One man in particular is all about giving. He gave his teammates, coaches, and fans a great start to the holiday season with a win over the No.1 seeded Grandview Wolves Friday night at Legacy Stadium by a score of 32-21. Junior running back Cameron Gonzales rushed for 223 yards and four touchdowns in a game that was snowy, cold and miserable for anyone to play in.
As the Pomona Panthers huddled around a small heater that was located behind the bench, the players all took turns trying to keep hands, feet and spirits warm. But not one of the players complained about the weather as they braved it weather playing or not. Each one of the players knew that the others were there to support the Panthers and stay warm.
The past three years, Pomona Panthers have been turned away in the quarterfinals. But Friday night, November 20, as the Panthers were starting their Thanksgiving break, Cameron Gonzales rose to new heights.
He is listed at 5’8” and is not the largest man on the field of play, but Cameron Gonzales had the heart of a giant as he thrashed his way past the opposing players. Cameron was “breaking ankles” as he juked players with his athletic abilities and somehow found open daylight to reach the end zone. “Revenge, that’s what I want, that’s what the team wants” Cameron Gonzales said as he referred to the Columbine Rebels team who beat the Pomona Panthers back on October 16 during the regular season matchup in which Columbine beat Pomona Panthers 42-35.
Pomona coach Jay Madden had these words to say about his star running back, “He’s a warrior. He’s and absolute winner. We knew he was going to be a warrior. He always has been, and he has a huge heart.”
Grandview Wolves took an early lead with a field goal as they had a great opening drive. They moved the ball downfield and the Panthers could not stop them until the Wolves got close to the goal. But then Pomona was quick to respond as the offensive line kept pushing the Grandview Wolves deeper and deeper into their own end of the field. The Pomona Panthers proved that they were not going to let the weather stop them as they quickly went down the field on a 78-yard drive and Cameron Gonzales capped off the impressive drive with a 10 yard touchdown run.
The Grandview Wolves could not capitalize on the next series of downs and had to punt. Once again, the Pomona Panthers went 73 yards and capped this drive with a 1-yard run by Gonzales. The PAT was no good, but Grandview quickly found out that the Panthers meant business.
The first half ended with Grandview Wolves scoring another field goal. As the players were relieved to head to the locker rooms and try to get some warmth and feelings back into their bodies, the scoreboard read 13-6, and the Panthers had just one more half to play to advance further in the playoffs than they had since 2011.
Along with a second half to play, the snow intensified and the temperatures dropped further. But for the Panthers, they brushed it off as just another day in the sun. The second play of the third quarter and once again, Cameron Gonzales had no trouble running 64 yards and another touchdown. Grandview Wolves came right back though with their own touchdown but they did eat up a lot of the clock and now time was starting to get away. Panther’s next series of downs and Gonzales was again determined not to be stopped as he added a 39-yard touchdown.
With the game winding down, quarterback Ryan Marquez puts more points on the board as he took the ball for a 1-yard quarterback sneak. Grandview answered with a quick touchdown but was unable to recover the onside kick.
Pomona Panthers advance to the semifinals and will host the Columbine Rebels at the North Area Athletic Complex.