For the first time in school history the Wilcox Chargers football team will play in a CIF NorCal regional game. A 45-27 victory over the Salinas Cowboys in the Central Coast Section Semifinal has also put the Chargers in line for a CCS Championship, which would be their first since 1997.
“It’s pretty cool for sure, the first time in school history that we’re going to a NorCal game,” said Paul M. Rosa who rushed for 123 yards and three touchdowns against Salinas. The junior added a fourth touchdown as a receiver, kicked all the extra points, knocked through a 26-yard field goal and nearly threw a touchdown pass. “Getting to NorCal has been our goal since the beginning of the season, but we still wanna finish off CCS with a Championship.”
Despite his lone pass attempt falling incomplete, the halfback-pass from Rosa was arguably the most brilliant playcall of the game. Chargers Head Coach Paul Rosa, utilized his son perfectly on a play they had been saving for a key moment.
With the score 14-7 and time dwindling down in the second quarter, the Chargers were continuing to run the ball effectively, setting up the perfect time to execute the trick play. From 22 yards out with 30 seconds remaining the Chargers pitched to Rosa on what looked like a typical running play, but then Rosa gathered the ball in his right hand and launched a pass toward wide receiver Jacob Dominguez. The junior leaped up to catch it, got both hands on the ball in the endzone, but was unable to hang on as he fell to the ground.
“I thought we were gonna get the touchdown on that play,” confirmed coach Rosa. “This was the right situation to pull that play [from of our back pocket]. They hadn’t seen it on any of our tapes for sure as we had been holding that one back waiting for the perfect time.”
Wilcox would eventually score on the drive, a touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Ryan Cooper, giving the Chargers a 21-7 lead at halftime. After stopping the Cowboys on the first drive of the second half, quarterback Alex Adame then found Rosa for a 46-yard touchdown reception over the middle to stretch the lead to 28-7. Salinas however, would hang tough. The Cowboys scored 14 of the next 17 points to pull within 31-21 and nearly a full quarter left to play.
After a Chargers punt, the Cowboys took over with a chance to cut the deficit to three. That’s when Chargers’ corner Aaron Ah Sing came up with his second interception of the game on an overthrown ball. Ah Sing then did his best impersonation of NFL Hall-of-Fame cornerback Deion Sanders as he shaked and baked down the field, returning the interception 65 yards back down to the Salinas three-yard line.
“He’s exciting with the ball. I’ve seen him do that in practice all the time,” said senior tailback Gabe Herrera on Ah Sing. (Herrera would finish with 150 yards rushing and a touchdown). “Really glad to have everyone else be able to see it. He’s one of the best corners in this league, I thought he was gonna score on that return. He showed up big time in a big game.”
The Chargers’ offense quickly cashed in on the interception with an easy three-yard touchdown run by Rosa, essentially putting the game away at 38-21 and just 7:35 remaining. From there the two sides would trade touchdowns with Salinas recovering a late onside kick still down 45-27. Cooper’s interception at the goalline with under two minutes remaining snuffed out any chance at a comeback.
As it should be, Wilcox (12-0, 6-0) will now face their biggest test of the season, taking on perennial CCS juggernaut Menlo-Atherton (10-2, 5-0) in the Division I Open Championship.