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‘Jackets rush past Tigers in playoff opener
Hilmar football
Hilmar running back Broc Perry darts through defenders for a gain.

The Hilmar High Yellowjackets continued their postseason excellence on Friday night with a 62-27 victory over Los Banos, making a statement in the opening round of the Division V CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Football Championship.

The ‘Jackets used their legs to bolt past the Tigers, collecting 494 total yards on offense thanks to a run-heavy offense which saw the team score on six rushing touchdowns. In comparison, Hilmar’s defense held Los Banos to just 75 offensive yards in the first half of the game and 292 on the night.

The game was a rematch between the two schools, who met earlier in the season when Hilmar won 23-6. Hilmar and Los Banos have never met in the playoffs until Friday night.

“When we started the season, we had a lot of slow starts and we were down a lot of games. So to come out like that, it was really rewarding to see,” Hilmar head coach Frank Marques said. 

It was an offensive and defensive effort for the ‘Jackets right out of the gate, with quarterback Jason Pimentel capping Hilmar’s first possession with a 21-yard touchdown to give his team at 7-0 lead. 

Hilmar would go on to score twice more within the next minute and a half: first on an 11-yard pick-six by linebacker Broc Perry, then on a 13-yard touchdown run from Perry again, this time from the running back position on offense after Hilmar recovered a fumble on the previous kick.

“Once we got our momentum going, there was just no stopping us because we were all on the sidelines and got each other up,” Perry said. “I’m just really happy.”

Hilmar football
Hilmar's Luke Cox picks off the Los Banos quarterback during their playoff victory on Friday night.

Hilmar utilized its strong rushing attack all game long, led by Perry with 111 rushing yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns. He was able to score again to start the second quarter, this time on a four-yard run. Up 28-0, Pimentel put the ball back in his own hands by way of an interception on defense, then ran in a 12-yard touchdown after a nine-play drive to go up 35-0. 

Following a five-yard touchdown by Hilmar running back Luis Vargas on their next possession, Los Banos was able to get on the board to close out the first half with a 15-yard flea flicker. 

After a 38-yard field goal attempt by Hilmar kicker Andre Alves was blocked earlier in the game, he made one from 34 yards out to start the second half on a high note for the ‘Jackets. After Hilmar made it 45-7, Los Banos answered back with a 20-yard touchdown of their own.

Both teams would score on the next two possessions — Hilmar thanks to a five-yard touchdown by running back Blake Westmoreland and Los Banos on an eight-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Wyatt McBride to Joseph Archutowski.

Up 52-19, Cameron Moak came in under center for the ‘Jackets and they were able to score again via a 32-yard field goal by Alves. Despite one last touchdown by Los Banos in the final seven minutes of the game, Hilmar’s Dylan Couto was able to put the final nail in the coffin and seal a trip to Sonora for the ‘Jackets next week thanks to a 39-yard touchdown run which put the final score at 61-27.

“They were trying to focus on the left side of the line, and we were doing a good job blocking. We were able to move the ball doing both, with all three of our running backs. We had a great game,” Marques said. 

In addition to Perry, Pimentel got the job done with his speed as well with 89 rushing yards on 11 carries with two touchdowns. Westmoreland finished the night with 69 rushing yards on just six carries with one touchdown, and Vargas collected 102 rushing yards on 12 carries with a touchdown. The Hilmar defense also collected three turnovers on the night.

“I think this team has been through a lot of adversity,” Marques said, noting injuries and other setbacks the ‘Jackets faced in 2021. “...When you go through something like that, you get better and I think we’re playing really good right now.”

After the opening round victory, Hilmar will head to Sonora next week for a rematch with the Wildcats, who they beat 28-21 in September. The game will begin at 7 p.m. at Sonora High School.