After opening the season with three straight comfortable victories, 35-13, 38-14 and 42-14, the Wilcox Chargers finally found themselves in a tight, competitive football game. Hosting the perennially tough Menlo Atherton squad, Wilcox went up by a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The Bears, however, would come back and score a touchdown with about four minutes remaining. Instead of kicking the tying extra point, Menlo Atherton elected to go for the lead on a two-point conversion.
Bears quarterback Billy Johnson initially dropped back to pass, but then tried to run it in himself. The Chargers, led by junior linebacker Jeramiah Lewis, were able to bring him down short of the goal line.
“They ended up getting ready to pass and so we all got back to our drops [in coverage],” recalled Lewis on the two-point conversion. “As soon as I saw the quarterback turn with the ball, I just got after him and was able to get a hit on him.”
Wilcox would recover the ensuing onside kick attempt and the Chargers would be able to ice the game away with their dominant ground attack. Tailback Elijah Walker ended up rushing 30 times in the game, as the left side of the Chargers’ offensive line was particularly impressive in this game.
A run-based offense, Wilcox typically spreads the ball around more evenly amongst their running backs, but Walker, who lines up on the left side of the backfield kept getting the call behind left tackle Justin Hylkema and left guard Ozzy Cadena.
“It was [Walker’s] best game for sure,” noted Wilcox Head Coach Paul Rosa. “But the left side of the line with Ozzy Cadena and Justin Hylkema, our two linemen, they were just pretty dominant.”
Along with Walker, seniors Andrew Palacios and Frankie Tagoai also added touchdowns in this one for the Chargers. Defensively, Mitchell Gonzalez tipped a pass up in the air while covering Bears star receiver Jurrion Dickey. Johnny on the spot to catch the ricochet was Daniel Escorza. The interception was one of a few big plays made by the defense, which was kept fresh by the Chargers’ ability on offense to control the clock.
That complementary type of football with the offense keeping the defense fresh is exactly what Wilcox will need down the line if they are to get back to another CIF State Championship game. While we are still a long way away from that point, holding onto a slim one-point victory is certainly valuable experience moving forward.
“It’s really important to get that kind of experience for sure,” acknowledged coach Rosa. “We really hadn’t played a competitive fourth quarter yet, so nice to know our kids could battle through some adversity. It’s important to play in these big games to get those experiences, particularly our first time having to recover an onside kick.”
Wilcox will look to carry the momentum from their first competitive game of the season into the start of league play on Friday, Sept. 30 when they play at Mountain View.