It was a hard hitting battle Friday night when Hilmar High School hosted Livingston High in the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Division IV football playoffs. It was a slow start for the Yellowjackets (10-2) but in the end they trounced the Wolves (6-6), 27-0
For the majority of the first quarter Livingston methodically moved the ball down the field, relying on running back Brian Perez’ combination of size and strength. Despite the Yellowjackets’ initial difficulty slowing Livingston’s offense they were able to stop the Wolves when it counted. Halfway through the second quarter, with Livingston on the ‘Jackets’ one yard line, Hilmar was able to put together an impressive goal line stand, effectively shifting the game’s momentum in Hilmar’s favor.
“They had a really good game plan and we just had to make some adjustments,” head coach Frank Marques said. “The fourth down stop at the goal line was huge; I think it really turned the game around.”
After the stop Hilmar took over from their half yard line and in six plays ran the ball the length of the field, scoring with 5:50 left in the half off a five-yard touchdown run by Garrett Jericoff.
“All year our line’s been blocking great. Holes have been open all year so really it’s nothing new,” Jericoff said.
Jericoff ended the night with 119 of Hilmar’s 273 yards.
The Yellowjackets scored once more before the half, thanks in part to a key interception and 38-yard run by linebacker Zack Giuliano. With 43 seconds left in the second quarter quarterback Andrew Olson’s pass was tipped by Jesse Burke and caught by Jonathan O'Brien in the endzone putting Hilmar up 13-0.
The rest of the game consisted of desperate moves by the Wolves who opened up the second half with a successful onside kick and finished the game with four fake punt attempts. In the end Livingston was unable to capitalize on their opportunities as the Yellowjackets continued to put points on the board with a 44-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Silva and a seven yard touchdown run by Giuliano.
Hilmar will host next week’s semifinal matchup against Liberty Ranch (8-3) who upset undefeated Colfax.
“Anytime you can practice during Thanksgiving week it’s a sign that you’re having a good season,” Marques said. “Liberty Ranch is an up and coming program and they have a really good program. We’re going to have our hands full.”
To contact Frankie Tovar, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.