Last year the Wilcox Chargers took on San Benito down in Hollister and lost 45-30. Almost exactly one year later these two teams met again in Santa Clara; this time with a much different story. Facing the prospect of starting their season 0-3, the Chargers blew out the Haybalers Friday night, 35-0.
“Sometimes you look at the schedule that you put together to start the season and when you start 0-2, you start to second guess it,” chimed Chargers Head Coach Paul Rosa. “But I truly believe these early games, where you get beat bad, make you better down the road. I think tonight proved that. Our defense was awesome, the best our defense has played in years. [San Benito] is a tough offense to stop, they beat us pretty good last year. Thankfully, our defensive team put together a good game plan and our kids were more focused this week than I’ve ever seen them.”
Wilcox particularly needed their defense to shine early. In the first quarter, multiple penalties by the Chargers offense cost them on one drive and another ended in a lost fumble.
Defensively the Chargers were led by the strength of their front seven. Wilcox repeatedly stuffed the Haybalers rushing attack and added numerous big hits on the San Benito quarterback when the Haybalers attempted to pass. One of those quarterback hits came in the third quarter and ended up leading to an interception by safety Kejon Fletcher.
“Our three linebackers, Roan Poulivaati, Robert Padilla and Raymond Orozco all played really tough tonight,” chimed coach Rosa on his defensive standouts. “They aren’t big linebackers per se, but they play hard, they play their hearts out.”
The early defensive stops paved the way for the legs of both sophomore tailback Paul M Rosa and senior quarterback David Hernandez to eventually get churning. While the two standouts each picked up over 150 yards on the ground, Hernandez’s throwing arm shouldn’t go overlooked in the process. Despite being primarily known as a runner, both of Hernandez’s deep throws were right on the money. While Hernandez only attempted three total passes, two of them went for completions, one was a huge 40-yard gain setting up the Chargers’ second touchdown.
“All week long coach told me to stay calm, make sure my arm slot was correct and move my feet,” noted Hernandez on the preparation going into the game. “That’s exactly what I worked on and I trusted my front line to keep me protected and they did exactly that.”
“He threw the ball great today,” noted coach Rosa on Hernandez. “I thought he made great decisions. Those were great balls and [Ryan] Cooper [Jr]’s catch was a great grab. That play set us up so we could get it to 14-0 at halftime. Big time play.”
High school sports website MaxPreps currently has San Benito ranked 186th in California, nearly 100 spots higher than Wilcox (284th). There is no underscoring just how impressive this performance was from the Chargers. A blowout victory and a shutout over San Benito is a big deal.
Wilcox plays next on Saturday as they open up their league season schedule at Levi’s Stadium against Los Altos.