The Hilmar High Yellowjackets are undefeated, and in their mind underrated, as they prepare for the beginning of Trans Valley League play next week.
Hilmar completed its pre-league campaign Friday night with a 47-18 victory over Fresno High, but despite its dominating performance over the Warriors and outscoring its first four opponents 150-39, the ‘Jackets still have lingering memories of last year’s TVL performance. It’s the driving force behind this season’s will to excel.
“Last year people put us down because of how we came out, we didn’t play as good as we could, but we’re Hilmar. You better expect that we’re coming (this year),” Standout lineman David Bisby said. “It’s definitely a motivation. I was not feeling good about that 6-5 record. The goal is green, then it’s blue, and you know what’s after that.”
Friday served as both a demonstration of Hilmar’s resolve and an opportunity to fine tune its offensive and defensive squads, though the green machine seemed to be humming from the first whistle. The shifty tandem of Bailey Gomes and Kenny Camden supplied the night’s first touchdowns with first quarter runs of 11 yards and 1 yard, respectively.
With a pair of Devon Medeiros field goals adding to the score, the ‘Jackets took a 33-0 halftime lead after quarterback Jonathan O’Brien found pay dirt with his legs with a 10 yard scramble and one yard plunge.
That was it for O’Brien who finished with 42 rushing yards and 76 passing yards as the second half belonged to backup QB Beau Balswick for the second week in a row.
“We’re a hit away from him being the starter so we need to get him all the experience he can get,” Hilmar head coach Frank Marques said of his quarterback rotation.
Balswick started off on shaky ground with an interception on his first possession but managed to lead Hilmar to three more touchdowns before the night’s end—the first from Joseph Bello on a one yard run, the second from Gomes on a two yard run, and the third from Balswick himself on an 18 yard run.
“I think last year we limped through the pre-season and I think this year we dominated. We’re a lot better right now going into league than we were last year,” Marques said.
Hilmar’s defense also did its job as its starting lineup kept the Warriors off the board. Fresno finally found the end zone in the third quarter with a 55 yard run before adding two more scores in the fourth quarter.
“I definitely feel more confident. It’s a different team with a different mentality,” Bisby said.
Hilmar must now gear up for league as it will travel to play Modesto Christian High next Friday.
“The TVL is so tough; I know from now on every game is going to be a league championship game. Modesto Christian has a good program and we’re looking forward to playing them,” Marques said.
“They’re extremely athletic. They’re going to throw the heck out of the ball, so we need to cover down on them. If we stop they’re passing game I think we’ll be ok.”
The Crusaders are currently riding a three game winning streak and have averaged 46.75 points a game while only allowing a total of 43 points to be scored by their opponents.
“It’s going to be a good game. We’re going to come out there, talk with our pads, and we’re going to see what happens,” Bisby said. “They’re a good opponent and we’re just going to test ourselves.”