Calaveras gear-clad fans lined one side of field, facing a sea of purple-clad cowbell ringing Bret Harte faithful Friday night in San Andreas.
The smell of tri-tip and hot dogs hung in the air as Calaveras kicked off and ‘Frogs quarterback Ryan Kraft got to work.
Their first series went like this: a handoff, an incomplete pass another handoff, a fourth and four, an unsuccessful hard count, a time out, and a punt that took a ‘Frogs bounce to put Calaveras on their own 30.
Kyle Byrd started his night with a crisp handoff to Tanner Joses, an incomplete pass and a pitch out to the right for a first down.
Then the Calaveras offense pounded their way down the field.
That relentless attack would continue as Calaveras defeated Bret Harte 45-7.
“The kids played well individually,” said Bret Harte’s head coach Casey Kester. “But we’re still making too many mistakes. We’ll have a great play and then we’ll follow that up with a roughing the passer.”
Chance Norton capped the drive with a 30-yard twisting, lunging run for a touchdown. The point after attempt was good and Calaveras put the first 7 points on the board with 6:25 left in the first quarter.
Bret Harte wasn’t fooled by the Calaveras onside kick attempt and earned midfield position.
Kraft took off down the sidelines and made it to the endzone, but the play was called back after a holding penalty on Bret Harte. Another sack pushed the ‘Frogs back to a 3 and 20 situation, and a forced punt.
The Calaveras offensive line gave Byrd a sea of space to run throughout the night.
A screen left by Tanner Joses had everyone on and off the field wondering who had the ball until Joses accelerated down the left side of the field and into the endzone. With 3:24 left in the first quarter and the successful point after, Calaveras moved to 14-0.
“Tanner (Joses) played well. He’s so elusive and he blocks really well,” said Calaveras head coach Jason Weatherby.
Bret Harte found some momentum with their run game, but penalties and a sack at the one-yard line stalled the ‘Frogs offense.
Joses cruised into the endzone less than minute into second quarter play. The Bullfrogs blocked the point after attempt and Calaveras moved to 20-0.
The ‘Frogs started deep in their territory, but Kraft ran left up the sideline for a first down and Calaveras was charged with a late hit out of bounds, moving the Frogs close to midfield.
Kraft then found Karson Kirk with a heated pass and the Frogs were able to convert a first and one, thanks to a grinding run by Kraft.
Kraft took a blind side hit for a loss of downs from Calaveras’ Austin Watters, setting up a third and long and a punt on the next down.
Calaveras took over with 4:34 left in the half.
Byrd threw a deep pass to Cesar Vazquez before finding Logan Arledge in the endozone for another touchdown. The kick was good and Calaveras led 27-0 with 1:15 left in the quarter.
And that’s how the first half would end.
Joses continued his dominant run game with a 19-yard run for a touchdown with 9:21 left in the third quarter. The point after was good and Calaveras led 34-0 in the third.
On the next series a jumble of penalties offset and play eventually resumed. Kraft took the ball up the left for a first down. And another flag on the play. Another set of offsetting penalties and a second down and nine.
With 8:03 left in the third, the officials called a meeting of the players from both teams at the 40 yard line to discuss the rash of penalties.
Kester said the chippiness stems from the longstanding rivalry between the teams.
“Things happen. It’s just the nature of the rivalry. The kids are out there giving everything they can,” he said.
Out of the huddle Kraft ran for the first down.
Nathan Rodriguez rumbled through a tangle of Calaveras defenders for another first down.
Kraft, facing running pressure from the Calaveras defense gave the Bullfrog fans something to blow their air horns about, connecting on a fourth and three with his receiver in the endzone. The point after was good and the score was 34-7 with 5:06 left in the third.
Calaveras tacked on a field goal to move the score to 37-7 at the end of the third quarter.
Calaveras chewed up the clock in the fourth, scoring another touchdown with 4:55 left. Byrd managed to rein in a high snap and run the ball for a two-point conversion and a 45-7 lead.
And so with a final knee Calaveras added its second Mother Lode League win to their season with a final score of 45-7.
The key for Calaveras tonight came on both sides of the ball.
“Our passing game improved. Our defense played lights out,” said Weatherby.
And they were able to contain the Bret Harte passing game.
“He (Kraft) didn’t miss many throws, but he was covered so he couldn’t throw,” Weatherby said.
Kester said he saw plenty of positives from Friday’s loss.
“Ryan Kraft is still running the ball very well. Alikhan Abusaidi is starting to assert himself as a leader of the team,” said Kester.
Calaveras is 6-1 on the season; Bret Harte 1-5. Bret Harte plays Amador High School in Sutter Creek at 7 p.m. next Friday. Calaveras will have a bye week before playing Amador on Oct. 20 in Sutter Creek.