Eric Braziel's 28-yard interception return for a touchdown with under a minute remaining sealed Hayward's win over Mt. Eden, serving as the exclamation mark on an unbeaten run through WACC-Shoreline action for the Farmers this season.
Mt. Eden put one final touchdown on the board, with only enough time left on the clock to attempt an onside kick and watch the Farmers (9-1, 6-0) take one kneel-down as the final seconds of the regular season ticked away for a 28-13 Hayward victory.
The Farmers led 14-0 at the half, thanks to a first-quarter 10-yard touchdown run by quarterback Francisco Sedano and an eight-yard scoring run in the second quarter for Reggie Garrett.
"It was a hard-fought game. Both teams were playing for a league title, it's a city rivalry, and they were playing for their playoff lives, so it was three big emotional factors all wrapped up in one," said Hayward coach Justin Redemer. "We dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides, and were just the more physical, more aggressive team."
After a scoreless third quarter, Lenard LeBlanc III hauled in a 30-yard touchdown pass for the Monarchs (7-3, 5-1) to cut the lead to seven, but Josh Jackson responded with an 11-yard touchdown run a couple minutes later, for a 21-7 Hayward lead. Braziel put the game out of reach before Mt. Eden added some window dressing on LeBlanc III's second touchdown reception of the night, this time from 26 yards out.
Hayward will have the next week off before finding out its fate in the Division 3 playoffs. The Farmers figure to be among the top five seeds, especially after American Canyon's loss to Justin-Siena on Friday night. Mt. Eden is eligible for the post-season, but highly unlikely to make the Division 2 field.
But of more immediate importance for the Farmers was the fact that this win cemented their second straight league title, and the first outright crown under Redemer, who took over the program in 2011.
"This one is more special because it is outright and it is solely ours," Redemer said. "This program has come a long way. I have a great staff, with a lot of alumni coming back to coach in the program, and a lot of continuity with my offensive and defensive coordinators. It means everything to have those guys and this is a credit to them."