The high school football season kicked off with a bolt of lightning down at Valley Christian High School. No, there wasn’t an actual thunderstorm Friday night in San Jose, but Wilcox Chargers star speedster Elijah Walker returned a kickoff 95-yards for a touchdown in what turned out to be a surprising blowout win for the Chargers.
Typically, the two teams meet during the non-league portion of the season and end up playing tight, competitive football. This year, however, Wilcox cruised to a 35-13 victory after going up 35-7.
“We felt good on offense and we were bending, but not breaking on defense,” remarked Head Coach Paul Rosa on a first half that remained close, just a one score game going into the third quarter. “And then the big kickoff return put us up two scores and that was a big difference maker.”
Walker added a second rushing touchdown, finishing the game with 51 yards on 10 carries with the 2 touchdowns. Andrew Palacios led the way for Wilcox on the offensive stat sheet. The senior had 2 touchdowns rushing and a whopping 133 yards on just 8 carries, for a 16.6 yards per carry average.
The Chargers’ cross-town rival Santa Clara Bruins also ran the ball well in their opener but finishing off drives was the biggest stumbling block in an opening week loss against Terra Nova in Pacifica.
“I think we have eight guys who have never played football, five of them start,” noted Bruins Head Coach Andrew Calderon. “They just don’t know how to finish yet. We would do really well and then just a mental mistake here and there cost us.”
Calderon did praise Bruins junior quarterback Matthew Conklin for his performance, particularly his ability to change the play at the line of scrimmage when given different looks from the defense. Santa Clara would eventually fall by a final of 42-21 but nearly pulled within one score late in the third quarter.
For four quarters, the Fremont Firebirds dominated even without taking flight in their season opener. The Firebirds attempted just two passes through the air because their rushing attack simply could not be stopped. All told, the Firebirds combined for over 400 yards rushing as a team. They were led by junior running back Don Martinez, who carried 13 times for 145 yards, but Fremont had 6 players with 5 or more carries, including 4 with 8 or more rushing attempts.
“We’re running a derivative of the option this year and that kind of naturally spreads the ball around to multiple players,” remarked Fremont Head Coach Rob Swartz after a 43-18 opening week win. “We are running three different fullbacks and a rotation for our slot backs as well. The ball gets mixed around and we like it, everyone feels like they have a role on the team. It worked out well for us this week.”
Fremont will look to make it 2-0 when they travel to take on Independence in two weeks on Thursday, Sept. 8. Santa Clara will look to bounce back with a home game against Overfelt on Thursday, Sept. 1. Wilcox, meanwhile, will also play on the first of the month when they host Hollister.