By SIM RISSO
For The Union Democrat
The Calaveras Redskins defeated the Bret Harte Bullfrogs 51-24 on Friday night at Dorroh Field in Angels Camp.
The Redskins extended their win streak over the Bullfrogs to 13 (2000-2012).
"It didn't really settle in until about three minutes left in the game that this was my last league game, last rivalry game, of my life," said Calaveras quarterback Zack Johnson. "It feels good to know that I left my legacy and that we kept it going for one more year. Now we pass it on to the juniors and hopefully they can keep the ball rolling."
It was a spirited contest by both sides, and one that would prove to be explosive on offense for both as the game wore on.
For the first 22:52 of the game, only nine points combined were scored. But with 1:08 remaining in the first half, the Redskins got the ball back at their own 25-yard line. After two incompletions and a penalty, Calaveras was backed up even further, to its own 13-yard line, facing a 3rd-and-22. But that's where the offense started to pick it up.
A 48-yard completion to Christian Moore from Zack Johnson moved the ball to the Bret Harte 39. The next play was a 29-yard pass to Mike Seawell, taking Calaveras to the Bullfrogs' 10. Then, following a false start penalty, the Redskins finished off the drive by connecting on a 15-yard TD pass to Brian Golston, to take a 14-3 lead at halftime.
"I feel that was more anger," said Johnson. "Our team was kind of upset because we were not playing up to our potential. So that was our drive."
The third quarter proved to be a high-scoring affair for both teams. Calaveras scored four touchdowns in the quarter, while the Bullfrogs scored two touchdowns of their own.
Calaveras started the quarter off with a five-yard touchdown run from Seawell. Seawell's touchdown sparked an explosive outburst by the Redskins offense, which would score touchdowns on three of its next four plays from scrimmage.
Next, it was Seawell again, this time turning a 10-yard out into a 47-yard touchdown. Then, Kellen Hodgson got two lengthy touchdown runs, both of which came running the same play. The first one was a 62-yarder, then on the Redskins' next possession, Hodgson broke a 79-yard touchdown.
"Coach (Scott) Anderson, he and Weatherby, they made an adjustment at halftime," said Hodgson. "We ran the play two or three times the first half and got absolutely nothing on it. We made an adjustment at halftime and two times in a row I didn't get touched."
"That's explosiveness right there," said Calaveras head coach Jason Weatherby. "I think that shows we're capable of it. It might give our kids a little more confidence that, yeah, we are capable of doing it. We don't have to drive 75 yards on 20 plays down the field. We can be explosive."
The Bullfrogs got in on the action, too, with three second-half touchdowns. First, quarterback Chad Testa scored on a four-yard touchdown run. Then, later on in the third, Connor Zumbach ran it in from three yards out. Zumbach would also contribute a five-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"He ran the ball real hard," said Bret Harte head coach Scott Edwards of Zumbach, who finished the game with 136 yards and the two scores. "I challenged him at halftime. I said, 'We need better production on first down, two yards isn't gonna cut it. It makes a tough call for us on second-and-8.' I think he answered that challenge."
As Edwards would go on to explain about his team, they always kept fighting. They showed that again on Friday night.
"I think had we just converted on some of those pass plays that were wide open, it would have been a different story," said Edwards. "But that's why you play the game. Those guys made the plays and we didn't. But my hat goes off to a lot of our kids. Our kids went out there and fought."
The end of Friday's game marks the end of the Bullfrogs' season. For some players, like senior tight end/middle linebacker Sean Hale, it marks the end of their high school football experience.
"All of the seasons I played, they weren't the best, but all the memories we had with all the people, I'll never forget those," said Hale. "The people that graduated before, that I played with last year, the people that are here now, they're all my brothers. It's all family now. When I reflect on high school football, I'm just gonna know it was a brotherhood, a family all together. That's what I get out of it."
For Calaveras, who qualified for the playoffs, the season rolls on. The Redskins (No. 9 seed) will face a familiar foe on Friday when they travel to No. 8 Escalon to take on the Cougars.
"We've faced them before so we're confident in our ability to compete," said Weatherby. "The big thing here is we've got to finish. You know, the section game two years ago, then the year before that down there, they beat us on a last-second play. We just have to finish. We have to play the whole game and finish, and I think we've got a shot at competing with them."