Shawn Hobson …..It’s the matchup that high school football fans in Vista look forward to all season: the annual rivalry game between Rancho Buena Vista and Vista High.
Vista High hosts the game this year, at 7 p.m. tonight (Nov. 6) at Dick Haines Stadium.
It’s been a somewhat down year for two football programs with a rich history, but it shouldn’t make this matchup any less fun to watch.
Tonight’s Avocado East League game pits the Panthers (3-6 overall, 1-2 league) against the Longhorns (1-8, 1-2 league). RBV is coming off its first win of the season—a 31-17 victory over Del Norte last week—and the team hopes to ride the momentum.
“Vista is going to bring it, and we are going to bring it,” RBV coach Paul Gomes said shortly after last week’s victory. It will be Coach Gomes last game; he announced his retirement from the program earlier in the season.
History is on the Panthers’ side. Tonight’s game will be the 28th meeting between the two schools, and Vista High leads the series rivalry 17-10.
The Vista Panthers also go by “Go Big Red,” a nickname that comes from Haines, who coached the team from 1970 to 1994. The longtime coach tallied a record of 195-80-1, leading the school to three CIF-San Diego Section titles. The school named its stadium after Haines. He passed away in 2002.
Current Panthers head coach Dan Williams actually played for Haines in 1981, when the team won its second CIF title under Haines. Williams himself has had success as the coach, leading the Panthers to CIF championships in 2004 and 2010.
There was only one high school in Vista until 1987, when RBV opened. Many of the players who probably would have played for Haines at Vista ended up at Rancho Buena Vista. The Longhorns became an immediate success on the gridiron, winning the CIF San Diego Section 2A championship in 1988 and the CIF 3A championship in 1989.
The first Vista-RBV matchup came in 1989, and RBV came away with the 34-14 win under head coach Craig Bell. The Longhorns won again the next season 58-19. Haines reportedly was upset that some of his players had landed at the new school.
It wasn’t until 1991 that the Panthers would win their first game over their new crosstown rival. That season, Vista was ranked No. 1 in CIF, and RBV was at No. 3. “Go Big Red” prevailed 24-21 over the kids who played at “The Ranch.”
The teams played twice during the 1998 season: once during the regular season, then again in the CIF semifinals. Vista beat RBV both times and went on to win the CIF Division I title that year. It marked the third consecutive CIF title for the Panthers under former coach Steve Silberman.
Vista has won a total of nine CIF championships—fourth most in CIF San Diego Section history. Oceanside claims the most titles, with 15. Rancho Buena Vista has won two CIF football titles in its 27-year history.
Those who have attended games at Vista High this season may have noticed the bleachers on the west side of the stadium have been replaced. Donna Caperton, the Vista Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, said work will not be completed until January. RBV fans will sit closer to the field on temporary aluminum bleachers for tonight’s rivalry game.
Vista High vs. Rancho Buena Vista
Football Rivalry History
Contact Shawn Hobson at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow him on Twitter @HOBMediaWorks.