When Hilmar’s varsity football team fell to Ripon High in the regular season finale, 34-28, the team thought their year was over.
Little did they know, with their strength of schedule in an ultra-competitive Trans-Valley League taken into account, they would clinch a playoff berth in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-VI playoffs as the No. 6 seed.
When the news broke, Hilmar took their 5-5 regular season record and put it aside as they traveled on the road to take on No. 3 Summerville High (8-2) on Friday night in what resulted in a lopsided 47-3 upset for the Yellowjackets who stunned the Bears.
“First of all, it’s a credit to our schedule since we played teams that win but also gives us a shot in the playoffs since it’s 0-0 now,” said Hilmar head coach Frank Marques. “Doesn’t matter everyone starts with a clean slate and you throw the records out the window. So now we told the kids everyone is equal.”
“We were all very grateful to get an opportunity to play the game we love so much,” said Hilmar’s Isaac Sharp. “Like coach Marques was saying at the beginning of the week, we said we felt sorry for any team that we had to play going in, it was great.”
The ‘Jackets, who had a turmoil of a regular season saw multiple games slip away.
In fact, three of their five losses heading into Friday’s playoff game was decided by one touchdown or less.
Now, after the win, standing at 6-5 overall, the Yellowjackets will be taking on a familiar rival in Escalon, a team who topple the ‘Jackets, 28-14, back on Oct. 6.
“First of all, being Loureiro’s last year, it has been a blast,” said Marques. “Everyone is going to miss him. I am going to miss him tremendously, it’s a great rivalry, he’s a great coach, I just can’t wait to see him Friday night and what a way to finish his career playing Hilmar, or continue on.”
If Hilmar picks up where they left off on Friday, Escalon will not know what hit them.
“For me, what I feel… is our team started off really slow during the season and I feel like we are just going to come back better and stronger and we will be ready for them (Escalon),” said Sharp.
It started with Sharp, who immediately took for a 42-yard score in the opening 1:11 as the ‘Jackets took an early and quick lead.
This was the story of the game as Sharp went on to rush for a game-high 139 yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns.
“We were really excited coming into the game. We had to give it to some of the sophomores coming up, that gave us a good look on the scout team, which is great,” said Sharp.
Hilmar added another score less than six minutes later and an interception from Treven Crowley set up a 35-yard field goal by Bryan Milan which extended the lead to 16-0 with 2:35 left in the first.
Tristan Crowley then scored the next two touchdowns, first after tossing a 33-yard pass to Gaven Azevedo followed by a run from four-yards out that gave the ‘Jackets a 30-3 lead with 6:49 left in the second.
Milan had an interception before the second ended and Sharp rushed in his second score of the night with 37 seconds left in the first half which gave Hilmar a 37-3 lead at halftime.
Milan drilled a field goal from 31-yards out and he also scored the final TD of the game after taking a fake punt and running into the end zone for a 68-yard score to essentially seal the deal at 47-3.
“This was really the first game of the year where we actually played like a team this year,” said Marques. “Defense was after it, special teams, this was the first game all year that we executed. Sharp was incredible he just needs to have the ball in his hands more often and we did a good job with that.”
Hilmar will next travel on the road to take on No. 2 Escalon for the D-VI semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday.