Hilmar High football will get another chance at a State title after they crushed previously unbeaten East Nicolaus (13-1) from Atwater High’s Stadium, 48-14, in the Northern Regional CIF D 6-AA State Tournament on Friday.
“This is surreal, we are going to State… now we get Strathmore and try to get redemption,” said Hilmar head coach Frank Marques, who led his team to their sixth straight win. “We are really beat up, lot of injuries tonight and we just have to get healthy over the next week and prepare for Strathmore.”
Hilmar’s now 12-2 and will face off against a Strathmore team that is 13-1 and have only lost once in the last two years after they won State last season and knocked off the Yellowjackets in the state tournament, 53-52, in a wild double overtime contest.
Strathmore went on to win State with a 16-0 record that year, but it left a sting on all returning players for Hilmar.
“We will take it like we do every game and every day. Take it one day at a time and break it down and long practice but it will be worth it,” said Hilmar’s Nick Aguilera. “We executed, and we did not forget last year with Strathmore… it will always be in the back of our minds.”
Isaac Sharp rushed the ball 18 times and tallied 160 yards.
Justin Rentfro finished with 15 carries for 129 yards.
Treven Crowley of Hilmar tallied five touchdown passes for the game.
“I have to thank my line, if they didn’t do it for me, I probably wouldn’t have had the night I did,” said Crowley. “A lot of credit to my receivers Noah and Aidan as well. I had faith in my teammates and we played our game.”
Bryan Millan finished with a pair of scores.
In the first half alone, East Nicolaus fumbled five times.
It took two plays for Hilmar to score—and they didn’t receive the first half kickoff.
EN fumbled the ball on their first play inside their own 20 and Hilmar’s David Moreno recovered on the 15-yard-line.
From there Justin Rentfro blasted his way through with ease for a 15-yard score to make it 7-0 with 11:49 left in the first.
On the next drive, EN was forced to fumble again after a five-play drive and Brennan Mason recovered the ball just 73 seconds later.
Bryan Millan scored on a 32-yard run after a five-play scoring drive and made it 14-0 with 8:50 left in the first.
Three plays later exactly, Hilmar scored again on a one-play drive after once again EN fumbled inside their own 20.
Crowley found Noah Barcelos for a 14-yard passing touchdown and Hilmar went up 20-0 with 8:09 left in the first--still.
Following back-to-back punts from both sides, Hilmar forced a turnover on downs and on a three-play drive, Crowley found Millan for a 52-yard score to make it 27-0 by the start of the second.
EN fumbled again on their penultimate drive just before halftime and Hilmar capitalized once again, scoring on a Crowley pass to Aidan Azevedo for six-yards, extending the halftime lead to 34-0.
EN scored their first touchdown on their first drive of the second half and cut the lead to 34-8 after a two-point conversion.
Hilmar responded right away with another scoring drive that went 12 plays and Crowley ended it with a 16-yard strike to his twin brother Trent Crowley who jumped up in the air and caught it to make it 41-8 to start the fourth.
Seth Miguel of Hilmar picked off the EN quarterback with 10:12 left and Braiden Stubblefield capped off the final scoring drive for the ‘Jackets with a three-yard run made it 48-8 with 7:07 left in the game.
EN scored in the final minute to end it 48-14.
“We watched film and they are a strong running team, but again we came in and shut them down,” said Hilmar’s Brennan Mason who had two fumble recoveries.
Hilmar will next take on Strathmore for the CIF D 6-AA State Championship from Atwater High at 7 p.m. Saturday.