The Cinderella story continues for the 2017 Hilmar Yellowjackets football team.
This after the team captured the programs seventh section banner and the third one for current head coach Frank Marques with a 42-13 shellacking over Trans-Valley League foe, Modesto Christian, on Saturday night in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI Championship game from Lincoln High's field.
“Right now, we are just excited. This is a dream come true,” said Hilmar quarterback Tristan Crowley. “Practice went well and we knew the game plan and what we had to do. We knew that it would come down to our hard work.”
“It's exciting and we are pumped since all the great work paid off,” said Hilmar's Isaac Sharp. “Soon as we made the playoffs, there was a new energy. Last score against MC was flipped this time around.”
In the end, the Yellowjackets earned this banner in one of the most impressive runs to-date in the section.
The 'Jackets are 8-5, having won three games straight in incredible fashion. First, they went on the road and held No. 3 Summerville to just three points and went on a shootout with No. 2 Escalon only to reverse the roles of the regular season with MC, splitting the series for the year.
“We didn’t think about the last time we played them because we are a whole new team and this is a whole new season,” said Marques. “We focused on the little things. Took care of the ball a lot better, we didn’t have the turnovers we had early, then our defense was playing phenomenal.”
They lost to MC 41-13 back on Oct. 20, and this time, the scores were nearly identical once again, only the results were reversed.
“That first loss to MC made us want this and we want to do it next year,” said Hilmar's Johnny Silveira.
Hilmar has also scored 41 points or more in their three playoff games, including Saturday's finale, where they dominated from the onset.
Sharp, along with a powerful performance from the entire squad, including the offensive line, rushed for a game-high 249 yards on just 13 carries while scoring a pair of touchdowns.
The entire MC offense had a total of just 262 yards on offense, as the Hilmar defense stymied any attempts of gaining momentum throughout the game.
Prior to the start, Hilmar was coming in laser focused with only one thing in mind—win.
From a 5-5 team prior to the start of playoffs, the 'Jackets never let their regular season record define them or the season.
Undersized compared to MC, but with the heart of lions, each and every individual on the roster, along with a well-rounded coaching staff led by Marques, were prepared.
“This one being 5-5, lucky to be in the playoffs to get the blue banner this way and coming back to beat two league foes that were very very good… to get the blue banner is very special,” said Marques.
The team looked revamped with plenty of experience under their belt after a tumultuous road to get to the final.
“It was a team effort, no single guy, everyone helped,” said Crowley.
They took it as a challenge.
The doubters were blocked off. The predictions were shrugged off and once the whistle blew it was time.
It took just five seconds for Hilmar to get on the board against MC in the final on Saturday after the Crusaders offense fumbled the opening snap from inside their own 20-yard line on the first play and Yellowjackets Silveira scooped the ball and returned it into the end zone for a score.
“The team had our back. Offense and defense came through,” said Silveira. “I was really nervous before the game, during, and I was shaking. I think maybe the nerves helped me and brought out the best.”
This was just a glimpse of what would transpire as the storyline for the game which was dominance.
Sharp followed up with the second score of the opening quarter after breaking loose for a 79-yard gash to put his team up 14-0 with 4:41 remaining in the first.
MC then scored before the first ended but Justin Rentfro of Hilmar quickly followed up with a one-yard score to extend the lead to 21-7 with 11:28 left in the second.
Hilmar then outscored MC 21-6 for the remainder of the game with touchdowns coming from Sharp on a 62-yard run and Tristan Crowley running it in from four-yards out.
Crowley connected with Gaven Azevedo for a 53-yard score in the air to seal the deal.
With this section title, Hilmar has now won seven in its program's history and earn their first title since 2011. They lost in the 2013 and 2015 championship games, respectively.
Quarterback Crowley was 8-for-11 for 152 yards passing and tossed one touchdown and an interception.
In total as a team, Hilmar accumulated 336 rushing yards. Carter Azevedo had two grabs for 58 yards. Gaven Azevedo caught four passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. They also finished with 488 yards of total offense.
Hilmar wins their first section title since 2011 when they toppled Escalon in dramatic fashion, but since then had lost the section title in the next two odd seasons (2013 and 2015).
Hilmar's run will continue as they will host 13-0 Strathmore High in the CIF State tournament at 7 p.m. Friday.