IMPERIAL — The Imperial High football team shocked visiting Mater Dei High of Chula Vista, 41-11, here Friday night.
The Mater Dei Crusaders are the defending Metro Pacific League champions, having gone 8-4 last year, making this victory a sweet one for the Imperial Tigers.
Junior fullback Royce Freeman had another monster game, this time setting a new school record for rushing yards in a single game with 310 yards on just 15 carries.
“It was a great all-around effort from our football team,” Freeman said. “We can only strive to get better each day.”
Mater Dei kicker Paul Ortiz nailed a 30-yard field goal on the first Crusader drive of the evening, with Freeman quickly following that up with a 76-yard touchdown run.
Senior wide receiver Dejon Wilson caught his first touchdown pass as a Tiger in the second quarter when junior quarterback Chris Carter found him for 53 yards, putting Imperial up 14-3 at halftime.
Carter’s stats weren’t stellar, but he did complete 50 percent of them for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
Imperial’s stellar offensive line helped Freeman put the Tigers on the winning track with a 52-yard burst for a touchdown early in the second half.
Tyler Swarthout, James Phillips, Evan Pumphrey, Mickey Lopez, and Azael Castro have been a force to be reckoned with all year in the trenches, getting Freeman past the first line of defense to then make the plays he’s now known for.
Carter followed up with his first rushing touchdown of the year, a 2-yarder later in the third quarter.
Freeman ended the third quarter with yet another huge run, this time for 54 yards and the score, giving the Tigers a 33-3 lead going into the fourth quarter.
With a running clock for the last quarter — the second such time in as many weeks for Imperial — junior tight end Dajon Staton was targeted by Carter for a 13-yard touchdown pass.
The lone Crusader touchdown of the night was scored on the subsequent kickoff return when Jaison Miller took the ball 96 yards.
Imperial secured its second victory in a row when Wilson intercepted the ball late in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense stepped it up,” senior strong safety Alec Ormand, who led the team with seven tackles Friday night, said.
Imperial’s defense held Mater Dei to just 209 yards of offense and no offensive touchdowns, adding one more turnover to a total of 12 taken on the year for the unit.
“We’re ready for whatever else is coming,” Ormand said. “This schedule is getting us ready for (the Imperial Valley) League.”
Imperial (3-1) travels to Parker High of San Diego at 7 p.m. Friday.
“We still have some things we need to work on, but we’re coming together,” Tigers coach Kerry Legarra said. “We’re not just one-dimensional anymore. I’m awful proud of them.”