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Hughson falls in close contest with Orestimba
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JJ Rodriguez gains yards for the Huskies during their game against Orestimba Friday night (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

In spite of their youth, Hughson High’s varsity football team is proving to be competitive in preseason play following Friday night’s 22-21 loss to Orestimba High — a game that saw fans on the edge of their seats until the final minutes.

“I’m happy with the effort, honestly,” Hughson head coach Shaun King said. “It didn’t go the way we wanted it to go, but we learned a lot. This is a young team…there’s always the opportunity to see (Orestimba) down the road again, and if not, we’ll be ready next year.”

There are six juniors starting on both offense and defense this season, King said, including quarterback Aiden Meyer, who led the offensive effort for the Huskies with 124 total yards — 77 passing yards and 47 rushing. Meyer was 10 for 25 in passing, with one rushing touchdown that put Hughson on the board in the first quarter and another 27-yard touchdown pass to Zander De la Cruz in the second half. De la Cruz also tallied a six-yard rushing touchdown of his own early in the fourth quarter.

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Hughson quarterback Aiden Meyer decides to run the ball to help the Huskies move down the field Friday night against Orestimba. The Huskies lost 22-21 (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Despite Meyer’s energy, King said it was several dropped passes and key mistakes from the offensive line that were the difference in Hughson’s progress down the field. The Huskies tallied 176 total yards on the night, compared to the Warriors’ 288.

Hughson’s defense stifled Orestimba in the first half; the Warriors’ only first down during that time came with just over two minutes left in the second quarter. They ultimately scored before the half, but a missed point after attempt kept the Huskies up 7-6.

Defensive gems kept the game close until the game’s second half: an interception from Brian Hill and another turnover thanks to a fumble recovery by Nolan Rawe.

“Defense is what’s keeping us in these games. We’re definitely going to have to work on our offense and our execution, but defense is flying around the ball,” King said.

Orestimba was able to score twice more in the final two quarters of the game, however, thanks to a mammoth 77-yard pass by Warrior quarterback Anthony Casillas to Jayden Vargas. Thanks to a successful two-point conversion, then another following a 12-yard dash into the end zone by Casillas in the fourth quarter, Orestimba had a 22-21 lead late in the game.

With a minute and a half left, the Huskies called upon Rawe to attempt a game-winning, 39-yard field goal attempt on fourth and nine, but to no avail.

“That was a lot of pressure — he’s only a junior, too,” King said. “If I had to do it all over again, I would.”

With preseason game number two under their belts, the Hughson Huskies are now 1-1 overall on the season. Next week, they’ll play Argonaut High at 7 p.m. in Jackson.