Fillmore, CA — The Fillmore High football team didn’t roll to a league-title-clinching, rivalry trophy-lifting win over its old Route 126 for Friday night. It rolled right. That was the play call sophomore quarterback Anthony Tafoya asked head coach Charlie Weis for in the final dramatic and decisive minutes of the Flashes’ regular season. “I told coach, ‘It’s open,’ ” Tafoya said. “I wanted to get out of the pocket.” And into the annals of Ventura County’s most historic rivalry. Tafoya’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Nate Delgadillo with 3:05 to play lifted Fillmore to a 35-28 win over visiting Santa Paula in the 112th rivalry game Friday night. With the win, Fillmore (8-2) clinched the Citrus Coast League championship at 4-0, the program’s first outright league title since 2016. “We have a really open system the way we teach it,” Weis said. “We want them to understand the ‘why’ behind the offense. So Anthony has freedom to tell me what he likes and what he doesn’t like. “He told me, ‘I want to get on the move a little bit, I want to roll.’ So when we got down there in that spot, I knew … it was easy money.” It may have been the only thing easy about this night for Fillmore, which was pushed for 48 minutes by its neighbors from the west. Spurred by the decision-making of senior quarterback Marcus Castaneda, the grit of sophomore running back Allen Macias and the long athleticism of senior tight end Bryce Nunez, Santa Paula (6-4, 2-2) took a 7-0 lead on its first possession and dug out of holes of 21-7 and 28-14 to threaten to spoil Fillmore’s season. “All season we talked about improving each week,” Santa Paula head coach Mike Montoya said. “We wanted to play our best game on the last day of the season. I feel like we did tonight. “I couldn’t be any prouder of how these guys, the way they battled tonight against a very good team.” In the handshake line after the final whistle, as fireworks lit up the sky behind the stadium, Weis found himself telling each Santa Paula player, “You played such a great game.” “What a great game, right?” Weis said. “This is the kind of game you want it to be. This is what high school football is all about. “It’s such an awesome moment and it’s something these kids will remember forever, but this is going to make us better, too. They pushed us. … This game is always going to bring out the best of these kids and that’s what it did. I’m so proud of them.” With its league title, Fillmore earned an automatic berth to the CIF-Southern Section playoffs. Third-place Santa Paula is eligible for the postseason, but it will have to wait until Sunday’s announcement to know the result of its at-large bid. Tafoya completed 19 of 29 passes for 185 yards and three TDs, Delgadillo caught nine passes for 113 yards and two TDs and junior David Jimenez added 111 yards rushing and a score on just seven carries for Fillmore. Castaneda completed 16 of 22 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns and Macias had 105 yards from scrimmage, including 93 yards rushing and a touchdown on 22 carries. Santa Paula took the opening kickoff and drove 78 yards in 10 plays, spurred by Macias’ 33-yard run off left tackle, and took a 7-0 lead on Castaneda’s 21-yard fade to Nunez on fourth-and-6. Fillmore answered with a 14-play, 73-yard drive, converting a fourth-and-1, third-and-10 and third-and-3. Tafoya tied the game with a 3-yard TD pass to Jarod Uridel. Santa Paula’s next three drives ended in Fillmore territory without points. The Flashes capitalized, building a 21-7 on Jimenez’s 74-yard TD run off left tackle and Tafoya’s 18-yard scoring strike to a leaping Delgadillo with 27.5 seconds left in the half. “That was some basketball right there,” Weis said of Delgadillo’s acrobatic grab. “He’s one of the best basketball players at our school and he just went up there and made a play right there.” But Santa Paula’s response was swift and emphatic. Castaneda hit Anthony Mex for a 42-yard catch and run to the Fillmore 18 with 11.8 seconds left. Anthony Cuevas reeled in an 18-yard touchdown pass on the next snap to pull the Cardinals within 21-14 at the half. “I loved the way our kids battled,” Montoya said. “The touchdown right before the half shows that we never give up.” Fillmore regained control, opening the second half with a 10-play scoring drive. Tafoya’s 1-yard bootleg TD run, set up by a 16-yard pass to Uridel, pushed the lead out to 28-14. But that was erased by another big play by Mex, whose 51-yard catch and run to the Fillmore 3 set up a 2-yard Macias TD run, which pulled Santa Paula within 28-21 with 7:05 left in the third quarter. After Fillmore was forced to punt on its next possession, Santa Paula put together a 14-play, 67-yard drive to tie the game, 28-28, with 10:14 to play. Castaneda converted a third-and-8 with a 15-yard strike to Cuevas, picked up a fourth-and-3 with a 6-yard out to Nathan Perez on the first play of the fourth quarter and tagged Cuevas with a 6-yard scoring strike on third-and-goal to complete the march. “What a game,” Montoya said. “What a game. In a rivalry game, things like that happened. It was fun. I wish it could have been a different outcome, but it was a fun game to be a part of.” Both teams had a chance to take the lead, but both defenses forced consecutive punts. After Ben Meza’s pressure from the left forced a short Santa Paula punt, Fillmore’s game-winning drive began at midfield at the midpoint of the fourth quarter. Nico Virtu converted a third-and-1 from the Santa Paula 24 and Tafoya found Uridel on a play-action pass to move the Flashes to the Santa Paula 3. Tafoya, whose father and grandfather played for Fillmore, grew up watching his cousins play in this game. “I was always a kid watching on the sidelines, hoping I was going to be in this situation,” Tafoya said. “I got it tonight.” After Weis took his input, Tafoya rolled out right and hit Delgadillo, the man in motion, in the flat for the decisive score. “When Anthony asks for something, I’m going to give him an opportunity,” Weis said. “I’ve got their backs, the same way they’ve got ours.” Cuevas returned the subsequent kickoff to the Santa Paula 48, but the Cardinals’ potential response was halted by a second-down offensive pass interference flag and a third-down sack by Ivan Becerra. A Hail Mary pass was batted down by Fillmore’s Mathew Magana. After they gathered to take pictures around the rivalry’s old trophy, the Fillmore seniors seemed equal parts proud and relieved. “That was a dogfight,” Fillmore linebacker Tory Cabral said.