While the 47-0 final score wouldn’t seem indicative of a particularly fun game for either side, the Wilcox and Santa Clara junior varsity squads certainly got plenty of enjoyment facing off in their friendly cross-town rivalry.
Despite being on the wrong end of a lopsided score, Santa Clara Head Coach Mike Walke acknowledged the amount of fun his players had facing off against childhood friends.
“Talking to some of my kids, a number of them grew up with kids on the other side of the field. They are still friends, they still see each other at church, family barbecues, things like that. It’s a good rivalry, it’s fun.”
Even though the Bruins were shutout, both sophomore running back Bryan Arellano and sophomore wide receiver Nathan Liu stood out offensively with a number of impressive plays. Arellano made some nice cuts in between the tackles and Liu caught back-to-back first-down catches of over 10 yards in the third quarter.
“Bryan always gets positive yards for us [He’s a] good running back,” noted coach Walke. “And Nathan has been our go-to receiver all year long. When we need a positive six or seven yards, we go to him because we know that it’s a lock. He’s automatic.”
“It’s really fun working with Bryan,” chimed Liu. “We both help each other during practice, make each other better. He’s our go-to running back, he always gets there, he always gets the job done and works hard. We’re lucky to have him.”
As for Wilcox, the non-league game gave them an opportunity to work on some wrinkles in their offense and get playing time for some of their younger players. It is also easy to forget that most at this age still want to be the quarterback, running back or wide receiver, but the team has to put certain players on the offensive and defensive line. Ergo, it was a really nice touch, when Chargers Head Coach Anthony Herrera was able to get starting offensive tackle Osiris Niko a rushing touchdown.
“We were working on [giving Niko a handoff] throughout the week,” chuckled coach Herrera. “We also wanted to get the ball to our other tackle Scott Smith, so we were practicing a dive play with him all week. I know Niko has been working really hard. He’s probably made the biggest offseason transformation I’ve seen in a player. He’s been working as hard as he could, so we decided to reward him. He knew I was going to run it today and he even told me he was a little bit nervous. These are guys that never really get to touch the ball so we decided to throw some fun stuff in there with the linemen and the skill guys loved it too, it was fun to watch.”
Another one of the under-the-radar players coach Herrera wanted to highlight was right guard and defensive end Michael Fiaui.
“I saw him do a pancake. Every time he had a blocking assignment he was putting a guy on his back. He’s also one of our better defensive players as a DE.”
Like most players, Fiaui was more than happy to praise his teammates like star tailback Aaron Ah Sing.
“He’s probably the best running back I’ve ever played with, he’s explosive,” said Fiaui. “I like blocking for him.”
Despite resting for pretty much the entire second half, Ah Sing got a good workout in with three long touchdown runs on a single drive all called back for holding. The standout runner also scored three touchdowns that counted. It what was yet another big day on the ground for No. 22.
“I have to give credit to my line for opening up holes,” admitted Ah Sing. “It was really fun today seeing the lineman score.”
Next week the Chargers will look to finish undefeated and win their league title. They will host Palo Alto in a winner take all championship finale. Santa Clara will finish up their league season at Cupertino.