The Hilmar High Yellowjackets started their season off on a high note Friday night with a 42-22 victory over the Beyer High Patriots, proving once again that they will be a team to beat this season.
The ‘Jackets defense set the tone in the opening minutes of the game, stopping two Patriot running attempts and forcing a punt.
“I was really impressed with our defense,” said head coach Frank Marques. “I think a key to our team this year is how well they play.”
Stellar defense allowed the ‘Jackets to draw first blood, as a forced fumble recovered by Hilmar in the final four minutes of the first quarter put the ball back in their possession after a series of turnovers on downs by both teams. From inside the Patriot’s 39-yard line, quarterback Chase Kindberg completed a 32-yard pass to wide receiver Klay Farris for the first touchdown of the game.
Though the ‘Jackets’ offense was shaky in the first half, their defense allowed them to score twice more before halftime. Another fumble was recovered by linebacker Justin Rentfro in the final two minutes of the first quarter, beginning a drive down the field which resulted in a touchdown by way of quarterback sneak from Kindberg, making the score 14-0.
“We have a great defensive line - our linebackers are really good and our DBs played a hell of a game tonight,” said Marques.
Hilmar’s defensive prowess didn’t go unanswered, as Beyer opened the scoring in the second quarter following a 4th down conversion. With the score 14-6, Hilmar once again forced a fumble and recovered the ball at Beyer’s 33-yard line. After a 28-yard pass from Kindberg to Farris and a helpful helmet-to-helmet penalty against the Patriots, runningback Joshua Jennings was able to score from the 2 1/2 –yard line with 4 minutes to go in the second half, making the score 20-6 after the ‘Jackets’ point after attempt sailed just right of the goal post.
An 85-yard kick return for a touchdown by Beyer’s Carter Williams and a two-point conversion made the score 20-14 at the end of the first half.
The ‘Jackets’ offense picked up in the second half, which Kindberg credited to both calming his nerves and going over plays during the team’s halftime break. Kindberg finished the game with 273 yards, completing 15 of 28 passing attempts.
“A win after our first game feels good,” said Kindberg. “Our offense really feeds off the defense. When the defense gets a turnover, it’s a free chance to score.”
Hilmar once again opened the scoring in the second half, driving 55 yards down the field to the 10-yard line, where Kindberg completed a short pass to Cody Rentfro, making the score 28-14 after a completed two-point conversion.
Rentfro ended the game with 74 yards on 12 carries, and didn’t let Beyer’s size intimidate him.
“It felt good to win…I was just nervous because it was the first game and they’re big guys,” said Rentfro. “But, we watched film of them and knew what to expect – we worked on fumbling drills and stripping the ball in practice this week.”
The ‘Jackets scored once more in the third quarter, thanks to a 15-yard touchdown pass from Kindberg to Xavier Burke. Kindberg connected once more with Ferris in the beginning minutes of the fourth quarter, putting the final nail in the Patriot’s coffin. Beyer would go on to score once more in the final seconds of the game’s last quarter, making the final score 42-22.
“I think I was most impressed with how well we came back in the second half…this early in the season and playing a really good opponent, how you play in the second half is very important,” said Marques.
Farris finished the game with two touchdowns for 45 yards, and Kelby Peres ran 72 yards on just three catches.
The ‘Jackets travel to Lathrop High School next week, and despite last night’s win, Marques sees room for improvement before they take on the Spartans.
“It was a great overall defensive win,” said Marques. “It was a good win, but there are a lot of repairs we gotta do.”