The Wilcox Chargers won their second CIF NorCal State Championship in four years on Saturday. Taking on a big Manteca squad, the scrappy Chargers found a way to win 35-21. The Chargers will now travel to San Diego to take on Scripps Ranch for the CIF State 2-A title.
Early on against Manteca, it didn’t look like Wilcox would be traveling anywhere but back to their own homes. Manteca needed just seven plays to march 79 yards for a touchdown on the opening drive. Moments later, the Buffaloes recovered a pooch kick fumbled by the Chargers and had the ball again at midfield. A 14-0 deficit for Wilcox seemed imminent. However, the Chargers proved they could make quick adjustments as they immediately looked stronger on defense.
Manteca’s first play of the drive went for just three yards, and a few plays later, the Chargers intercepted a reverse pass as Luther Glenn would tip the ball up for teammate Chris Sargent to come down with the interception.
The offense would make the turnover count, marching down the field and scoring on a 19-yard run up the middle by Andrew Palacios. After a big third-down sack by Pace Nelson to force a Manteca punt, Wilcox would methodically march down the field again. This time Glenn would score from 4 yards out to put the Chargers up 14-7.
In the second half, the two sides began swapping touchdowns on explosive plays. Glenn took the first offensive snap of the second half 55 yards, putting Wilcox up 21-7. Manteca’s star tailback Blake Nichelson ripped off a 67-yard touchdown run to make it 21-14.
While Wilcox would respond with a long drive capped off by a 14-yard run by quarterback Armand Johnson, the big plays continued thereafter. Nichelson took the first play of the following drive 80 yards for a touchdown, pulling Manteca back to 28-21.
That set the stage for the play of the game. Facing a second-and-14 play from their own 16-yard line, Johnson dropped back to pass and found Glenn in one-on-one coverage just short of midfield. Glenn caught the ball and then used his free hand to shove his defender to the ground before scampering home the rest of the way untouched to the endzone.
“That was my best one,” chuckled Glenn when asked if that was his best George Kittle impersonation on the stiff arm. “I felt like I was Derrick Henry on that one a little bit.”
Wilcox Head Coach Paul Rosa has his team playing both emblematic of NFL stars and the sports cliche, “it’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, it’s about the size of the fight in the dog.”
“I think our program is that way,” responded Rosa when asked about his team being able to beat bigger teams. “Even our previous teams were always small. Our best players are always tiny. They play way bigger than their size. I think it’s a testament to the area, we get a lot of tough kids that are undersized, but we win with them.”
Case in point, arguably the defensive star of the game for Wilcox was Mitchell Gonzalez. He had a second-quarter interception and nearly had another just before halftime that was knocked away by the receiver. Gonzalez is listed at just 5’7” and 135 pounds.