C.J. Stroud leads Rancho Cucamongo past Upland to Baseline League football title – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

UPLAND >> Suffice it to say that Upland High football coach Darryl Thomas won’t miss Rancho Cucamonga senior quarterback C.J. Stroud when he graduates.

Stroud dissected the Upland defense to the tune of 300 passing yards and five touchdowns as the Cougars won the Baseline League title with a 47-28 victory over Upland on Friday at Upland High School.

“It means a lot to do this in my last Baseline League game, against Upland,” Stroud said. “I played with these guys in youth football.”

The victory improved Rancho Cucamonga to 7-3 overall, 4-1 in league and dropped Upland to 5-5, 3-2. Each team forfeited one league win and Upland also forfeited one nonleague win. Both teams will be in the Division 2 playoffs next week, with Rancho Cucamonga improving its chances of getting a first-round home game.

Stroud completed 22 of 31 passes for 300 yards, five touchdowns (to four different receivers) and no interceptions. He did much of his damage in the first half. when he threw for 214 yards and three touchdowns. His top target in the game was Jaden Dixon-Veal, who caught nine passes for 151 yards and a touchdown.

“I’ve been with these guys for four years so I know what they’re going to do,” Stroud said of his connection with his receivers.

It was a big win for coach Mark Verti, who led his team to another Baseline League title.

“This is big, to do it against Upland and win back-to-back Baseline titles,” Verti said. “I was really nervous before this game.”

Upland’s defense took a hit when coach Darryl Thomas found out star linebacker Justin Flowe would miss the game due to an abdominal bruise.

“He’s the No. 1 linebacker in the country, so he would’ve helped,” Thomas said. “But we practiced without him all week and it’s a team game.”

Rancho Cucamonga got off to a quick start, taking a 20-0 lead in the first minute of the second quarter by scoring touchdowns on three of its first four drives en route to a 27-7 halftime lead. The Cougars converted two fourth downs during those touchdown drives. The Cougars outgained the Highlanders in total yards in the first half, 253-67.

Upland’s offense got going in the second half, but it didn’t really matter because of what Rancho Cucamonga’s offense was doing.

“We just couldn’t get stops,” Thomas said.

Thomas wants his team to turn the page and hopes he’ll get Flowe back for the playoffs.

“We talk about the season being three parts — preseason, league and playoffs,” Thomas said. “The first two are over, we have to focus on the third one.”

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