Union Democrat photo by Kevin Sauls

STRONG SAFETY Zeke Delgado puts his 190 pounds to good use raising welts on opposing backs and receivers.


Galt High School running backs probably are seeing green jersey No. 36 in their nightmares this week.

Zeke Delgado, Sonora High School's junior strong safety, beat lumps all over the Warriors to the tune of 18 tackles in Friday's thrilling 22-21 football victory by the Wildcats before a packed house on Centennial night at Dunlavy Field.

The Union Democrat's Athlete of the Week also intercepted a pass and, while playing slotback on offense, made a key block on the penultimate play of Sonora's game-winning drive in the final minute.

The "strong" in strong safety means Delgado lines up on the same side as the opposing tight end the side the offense runs to most of the time. That puts Delgado in harm's way a lot, and that's just the way he likes it.

"I'm prepared to handle the tackles," he said. "They can run to my side all they want."

"He's physical and he's a good tackler," Sonora coach Robert Cendro said. "He's playing really well."

Before Sonora could mount its dramatic final drive, which ended with fullback Louis McColloch scoring on a one-yard run on fourth down with 41 seconds to play, it had to pry the ball away from Galt. The Warriors bled more than four minutes off the clock after Sonora's Ryan Roberson kicked a 40-yard field goal with 6:37 left to draw the Wildcats within 21-16.

As grim as things were looking, the defense dug deep and came up with a big stop.

"We just buckled up and played mountain football," Delgado said.

Sonora finally got the ball back with 2:23 left and went 75 yards to give thousands of alumni on hand for the Centennial something else to celebrate.

The next-to-last play of the drive was a pass in the left flat from Jeff Hess to Tommy Grove, who caught the ball at the six, dove for the endzone and was ruled out of bounds at the one. A key block by Delgado kept the play from being throw for a loss and Sonorafrom facing a much much harder situation on fourth down.

"If I didn't touch the (defender rushing toward Grove), he would have been tackled in the backfield," Delgado said.