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Hilmar blasts Livingston in football opener
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Hilmar senior quarterback Tyler Freitas runs around a Livingston defender.

Corey Bayer, Tyler Freitas, Victor Teixeira, and John Brindeiro led Hilmar High onto the football field for the first time in eight months on Friday. The Yellowjacket captains stared down their Livingston High opponents from the 50 yard line, they were ready to get the game started and so was everyone in attendance.

The Wolves (0-1) received the ball first and began a steady drive down the field, converting on critical third down plays with their passing game. Livingston found itself on Hilmar’s five yard line with an opportunity to draw first blood when disaster struck in the form of a fumble. Hilmar’s defense recovered on their own nine yard line and turned the ball over to Freitas and the ‘Jacket offense. Livingston’s misstep would be a recurring trend throughout the game.

Freitas and co. wasted little time attacking the Wolves with a balanced approach. A 38-yard pass to Ryan Oliveira set up a 16-yard touchdown connection between Freitas and Tyler Robinson to cap a 10-play drive.

Livingston immediately responded, taking advantage of a roughing the passer and a pass interference call against Hilmar to score from four yards out to tie the game. Unfortunately for Livingston, it would be their only trip to the end zone.

Hilmar’s next possession ended with a 20-yard Devon Medeiros field goal, extending the lead 10-7. Hilmar’s defense forced yet another fumble on the subsequent Livingston possession which in turn led to an 11-yard touchdown run by ‘Jacket Breck Smith. Hilmar’s defense shut the Wolves down for the remainder of the first half as Hilmar hit halftime with the lead.

The beginning of the third quarter brought about personnel change for Hilmar’s offense as Beau Balswick assumed quarterback duties from Freitas. Balswick seized the second half’s momentum with an opening run of 25 yards in a five-play drive that ended with a Jesus Izazaga touchdown run. Balswick remained under center until late in the fourth quarter when Hilmar’s third quarterback, Dustin Fantazia, stepped in to close the game.

“We got guys who can play,” Hilmar’s head coach Frank Marques said of his quarterbacks.

Hilmar scored once more for good measure with 9:10 left to play as Smith finished his day with a 76-yard dash to the end zone. Smith ended with 142 total yards in Hilmar’s 31-7 victory.

Even with all of the ‘Jackets’ big plays there were more than enough flags and mistakes on the field to frustrate any coach, and Marques was no exception.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Marques said. “We made some mistakes but we’ll work on it. It’s the first game of the season.”

Hilmar will continue their work next Friday at home against Dos Palos High.