BRENTWOOD -- The Heritage High football team made the playoffs in each of its first five seasons, and by winning three of their final four games, the Patriots became playoff eligible once more.
The Heritage secondary locked down Deer Valley standout quarterback Nsimba Webster for most of the night in 27-24 victory on Friday, but the Patriots won't see the playoffs this season.
With just a 3-7 record overall, Heritage coach Jeff Haagenson said he will not apply to the North Coast Section Division I playoffs, instead collecting the pads from the Patriots players after the game.
With a 3-2 record in the Bay Valley Athletic League, the Patriots meet the NCS criteria, and they likely would have made it with a lack of eligible teams. However, several injuries in the secondary led to an 0-6 start, and the coach felt he shouldn't apply.
That didn't damper the celebration of the victory, which had the Patriot players end the season with their heads high.
"I am very proud (of the secondary)," senior defensive back D'Maree Lewis said. "We came up big tonight."
Meanwhile, Deer Valley (6-4, 2-3) enters the post season on a three-game losing streak and will be without two key players who were ejected from the game. Lewis' interception of Webster in the second quarter started a series of explosive events that included a fight and four ejections.
The Patriots held Deer Valley's athletic and versatile quarterback in check in the first half. Webster was 0-for-8 to start the game with two interceptions.
Lewis picked Webster near midfield with 6:30 left in the first, and intended receiver, Elijah Iakopo, shoved Lewis after the play, setting off a melee that saw several punches thrown and four players ejected.
Iakopo and Ben Malolo were ejected for Deer Valley, while Nick Zalec and Nicolas Calegari were thrown out for Heritage. The coaches did a good job controlling the sidelines during fracas, and there were no further incidents in the game.
It was a physical defensive battle early on. Heritage ran just three offensive plays in the first quarter and 17 total in the first half, but Travon Covington-Zeno got a huge block from Hunter Machado to spring him for an 85-yard punt return for the first score of the game.
Several big hits had both sides a little edgy, and when Lewis elevated above the tight end Iakopo for the interception, the pot boiled over. Iakopo pushed Lewis and then swung at and connected with at least one Heritage player.
After the dust settled, the Patriots secondary made things exciting again, when Sam Hinn intercepted Webster's next pass and raced 42 yards to the end zone to put the Patriots up 14-0.
Webster rallied his team late in the first half, driving 87 yards on 14 plays. On fourth and goal, Webster hit Lee Ward for a 7-yard score with just 9.3 seconds left in the half.
Senior Carter Blaise returned the third quarter kickoff 50 yards to Deer Valley's 35-yard line, setting up sophomore Caleb Michael's 29-yard field with 7:56 left in the third to make it 17-7. The three points proved crucial as Deer Valley missed a 21-yard field goal on the next possession.
Webster rallied his team connecting with Deon Pruitt four times for 125 yards in the game. On a fourth-and-goal late in the third, Webster scrambled in from four yards out to trim the lead to 17-14.
Julian Johnson answered with a 1-yard score for the Patriots, but it wasn't over.
Lewis nearly intercepted Webster again, knocking a pass away with 4:55 left, but as the ball sailed toward the sideline, Nzuzi Webster dove for the ball and caught it in the end zone to make the score 24-21.
Heritage didn't let the Wolverines have the ball back running out the clock with a seven-play, 44-yard drive.
Heritage 24, Deer Valley 21
DV 0 7 7 7-- 21
Heritage 7 7 3 7-- 24
H -- Covington 85 punt return (Barrios kick)
H -- Hinn 42 interception return (Barrios kick)
DV -- Ward 7 pass from S. Webster (Quintanilla kick)
H -- Michael 29 FG
DV -- S. Webster 4 run (Quinanilla kick)
H -- Johnson 1 run (Michael kick)
DV -- Nz. Webster 11 pass from S. Webster (Quintanilla kick)
Rushing: DV -- Pooler 10-52, McDonald 12-48, S. Webster 12-14, Malolo 1-2. Totals 35-116. H -- Johnson 13-53, Sargent 10-43, Carter 7-19, Cleverly 4-6, Darling 1-2, Malabato 1-2. Totals 36-125. Passing: DV -- S. Webster 7-18-2 151. H -- Carter 8-12-0 107. Receiving: DV -- Pruitt 4-123, Nz. Webster 1-12, McDonald 1-9, Ward 1-7. H -- Briseno 2-27, Phipps 2-26, Covington-Zeno 2-25, Cleverly 1-19, Sargent 1-10. Fumbles/lost: Deer Valley 1/0; Heritage 2/1. Records: Deer Valley 6-4, 2-3 BVAL; Heritage 3-7, 3-2.