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Playoff bound
Hilmar dominates Orestimba in do-or-die situation
Hilmar 2
Hilmar High’s Victor Texiera shakes off Orestimba High defenders on Friday night in Trans-Valley League action. - photo by ALEX CANTATORE

HILMAR — By the time the first quarter ended, it seemed like there were stunned faces all over the Hilmar High football stadium. The scoreboard looked like it was broken, considering what was at stake. Even so, here are some of the Yellowjackets’ highlights in the first 12 minutes.

Four touchdowns.

A safety.

An interception.

A recovered kick return.

A nice little backward touchdown run by junior Garrett Jericoff.

It all helped the Yellowjackets to a 30-point first quarter performance en route a 54-0 thrashing of Orestimba High on Friday night in the Trans-Valley League. It also didn’t hurt that they pulled down six interceptions.

In the past two victories, Hilmar has outscored opponents 105-0. But more important, what made the win even sweeter is that the Yellowjackets secured an extended season.

“We knew it was going to be a big game,” said running back Issac Diaz, whose two touchdown runs of 24 and 15 were more than enough on a night of big play after big play after big play. “It was do-or-die for us. If we didn’t win, we wouldn’t make the playoffs, so we were really focused this week.”

They’ll need that attitude heading into next week, when the Yellowjackets (6-4, 4-1 TVL) will face Escalon High for the TVL title.

The Yellowjackets made a loud and clear statement on the first drive of Friday’s game, in which quarterback Jonathan O’Brien sneaked in from 1 yard out for a 7-0 lead after just 65 seconds and four plays. Diaz also had a big run of 33 yards to help out the series.

There were plenty of outstanding moments on this night for the Yellowjackets. Lineman Anthony Diaz finished with two interceptions. Kurtis Bettencourt nailed a 45-yard field to make it 40-0 at halftime. Jeremy Nickelsen and Zack Giuliano each ran in a score.

And the Hilmar defense forced a bad passing night for the Warriors, with Ravonne Pious and Dillon Martin going 5-for-31 for under 100 yards.

But perhaps one play stood out among all the other impressive ones. After Nickelsen intercepted a pass, O’Brien — who went 3-for-6 for 79 yards and one interception — found Garrett Jericoff for a 44-yard TD pass. But before he ended up in the end zone, two Orestimba defenders caused Jericoff to change directions and he practically ran in the last five yards backwards.

Yes, it was that kind of night.

For the Yellowjackets, it was a nice relief to win because they’d been dealing with injuries all season, including losing their starting quarterback.

“A lot of guys are back healthy,” Hilmar coach Frank Marques said. “It’s the first game where we had the majority of the team together. They really came together, especially with how important the game was.”

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or 634-9141 ext. 2041.