Hilmar High quarterback Caden Bailey and Patterson High quarterback Max Medina have more in common than just being the leaders of their respective football teams. The pair played youth baseball and football together for most of their elementary years. Playing each other to open the 2023 football season was something each of them looked forward to, and for the most part through the first quarter, they matched each other’s stellar play, until some crucial mistakes by the Yellowjackets turned the tide.
After the first quarter, the Yellowjackets and Tigers were knotted at 7-7 after Bailey and Medina traded 12-yard touchdown runs in the first two drives of the game. Come the second quarter, the Tigers capitalized on a Bailey interception, a fumbled punt and a handful of false starts to jump out to a 24-7 lead – a deficit that proved too much for the Yellowjackets to overcome as they fell by a final score of 45-20.
Hilmar head coach Frank Marques felt as if nerves got the best of his young team.
“We only have just a handful of players returning from last year that actually had playing time, so inexperience showed there early. It’s a real tough way to get baptized, playing a team like Patterson, one of the top teams in the area. You can’t make mistakes against teams like that. They showed our weaknesses,” he said.
Meanwhile, Medina, a sophomore, took advantage of playing behind a mammoth offensive line while having seniors Frank Callum, Jorge Rodriguez and D.J. Hardin run routes for him, helping him finish with four touchdowns through the air.
“It’s amazing. They all make it so easy for me,” Medina said. “Especially my receivers, they got height, my line has height and size, so I really appreciate them.”
As for Bailey, the dual-threat quarterback ran for 164 yards while only having 13 through the air with two interceptions. Despite the junior’s struggles against the Tigers, Marques is confident that he will use them to learn and get better moving forward.
Marques was also pleased with the way the team managed to put together some defensive stops and scoring drives in the second half despite being down by a 38-7 score at halftime. Receiving the kickoff for the second half, Logan Cardoso helped lead the team down the field, rushing seven times for 41 yards. Bailey capped off the drive with a three-yard touchdown rush.
“I was real proud how they battled back in the second half… I knew we weren’t that kind of a team that played in the first half. I knew it was nerves,” Marques said.
“There’s a lot of positive things to look for and a lot of mistakes that we need to polish, but when you have a really young team, you’re going to have these kinds of days.”
The Yellowjackets will look to break into the win column for the first time in 2023 next Friday when they travel to take on the Tigers of Los Banos High.