Brahmas win Branding Iron for second straight year


For the second consecutive year, the Diamond Bar High School Brahmas came out victorious in the annual Branding Iron game against long-time rivals Walnut High School Mustangs, 24-21.

As the matchup between the two teams took a 602-day hiatus, the rivalry game was highly-anticipated. Led by junior running back Michael Gorbea, Diamond Bar ultimately came out on top by a close margin.

Although the game started off slowly with a scoreless first quarter, things changed at the start of the second quarter, with the Brahmas coming out strong offensively. With two consecutive runs by Gorbea and an eight-yard keeper by sophomore quarterback Maddox Bernardino, Diamond Bar had possession of the ball inside the 10-yard line. 

A five-yard run by Gorbea followed, resulting in another quarterback keeper by Bernardino to score the first Diamond Bar touchdown, putting the Brahmas on the scoreboard 7-0.

The end of the first half featured interception after interception by both teams. With about five minutes left in the first half, a 30-yard pass by Bernardino to Gorbea was intercepted by Walnut; the Mustangs were unable to score off the interception with a turnover on downs due to the Diamond Bar’s defensive prowess. 

However, Walnut quickly regained possession with another interception. With the ball in the Mustangs’ hands, a poor pass by them led to yet another interception—this time by Diamond Bar junior Mike Mott.

With under a minute left in the half, Mustang quarterback junior Caleb Del Pozo threw a 30-yard completion to sophomore receiver Ethan Elizalde for their first touchdown. A successful extra point attempt by the Mustang kicker ended the first half with a score of 7-7.

At the beginning of the second half, Walnut tried forcing a 30-yard pass by Del Pozo to senior Donovan Wallace, but was intercepted by Diamond Bar’s senior Jacob Friend, who went on a 40-yard run. This put the Brahmas in position for a 17-yard field-goal attempt, which kicker junior Darrin Veloso completed, bringing up the lead to 10-7 in favor of Diamond Bar. 

Toward the end of the third quarter, the Brahmas went on an offensive run led by Gorbea and junior running back Isaac Mejia, which resulted in Gorbea scoring a one-yard rushing touchdown. Veloso’s completed PAT put the Brahmas up 17-7 at the end of the third quarter.

In the final quarter, the Mustangs had a strong start to the period and gained momentum with successful runs, leading to a touchdown by senior running back Nathan Wong. After a completed extra point, the score was cut to 17-14 with Brahmas remaining in the lead.

Minutes later, Diamond Bar’s offense also showcased its versatility, as senior Daniel Solis rushed for 25-yards, leading to an 18-yard rushing touchdown by senior Joseph Alarcon. The Brahmas brought their lead up to 24-14.

On the ensuing possession, Walnut answered back with an 80-yard kickoff return by junior Ruben Rivera. The PAT that followed was completed by Rivera, cutting the score to 24-21 in favor of Diamond Bar.

The Mustangs attempted to catch up in the last few minutes of the game, but were unsuccessful in getting past the Brahmas’ defense. Following Walnut’s turnover on downs, the game ended in a 24-21 win for Diamond Bar.

The Brahmas finished the season with a 4-1 overall record and a 3-0 record in the Hacienda League, finishing as the league champions.