By TAYLOR LUCKIE
The Union Democrat
After playing one team that was considered to be in the running for its league title in Ripon, the Bret Harte Bullfrogs found themselves in the same situation as they hosted the Trans Valley League's Hughson Huskieson Fridayat Dorroh Field.
The end result would be the same as the earlier contest but the Bullfrogs provided a much stiffer challenge in a 33-7 loss to the Huskies.
Bret Harte allowed two big plays in the first half, including an interception returned for touchdown and 68-yard touchdown run from Huskies running back Andrew Ocegueda.
Those two plays were the blemishes on an otherwise strong defensive effort.
"Our defense was pretty good," said Bullfrog senior guard and defensive end Mack McManus. "The first touchdown was an interception return, and our defense pretty much stopped them the rest of the half. There was one long run, but our defense was solid overall."
But the Huskies truly found their offensive rhythm in the second half and started to pull away from the Frogs. With less than a minute into the third quarter, Ocegueda scored on a 40-yard burst.
About four minutes later, Hughson added another long scoring run and took a 27-0 lead.
That score would hold late into the fourth quarter until the Bullfrogs got on the board on a 1-yard run from fullback Logan Lowe. Lowe finished with a team-high 67-yards rushing.
With the Bullfrogs starting quarterback out, Jacob Bailey, got first string snaps and performed well against a playoff-caliber Hughson team that many favor to win the TVL, although Escalon, Ripon and Hilmar may have a strong say.
"I was a little nervous," Bailey said when asked how he felt going into the game as the starting quarterback. "But once we started getting positive yards on offense, I started getting more confident."
Bailey, in his first start as signal caller, made a few clutch throws that went for first downs.
Despite the loss, Bullfrog players and coaches felt the team gained valuable experience.
"The score may not show it, but we got a lot better today," McManus said. "They're a good team and we took it to them, especially in the first half. I feel we got a lot better with our technique and moved the offense well."
Bret Harte head coach Jon Byrnes echoed those sentiments.
"Hughson made us a better ball club," Byrnes said. "We had fewer mistakes, we were able to move and control the ball on a big, physical team. I can't believe they're favored to win the league - I thought they were a little soft. We knew it was going to be a war, a battle, and we came out and played hard. It was better than, probably, 99 percent of the people out there expected."
The Bullfrogs will travel to Stocktonon Fridayto close out its out-of-league schedule against Brookside Christian at1 p.m.