For The Union Democrat

The Sonora High football team hosted the Bret Harte Bullfrogs on a drizzly Friday, winning the last game of the Mother Lode League regular season by a score of 70-15.

The Wildcats took control of the game as early as they possibly could when junior wide receiver Evan Bearden ran the opening kickoff back 68 yards for a touchdown. A successful point after kick put Sonora up 7-0 with 11:51 left in the opening period. The Wildcats then forced a quick punt, and scored again on their first play from scrimmage. Junior quarterback Jake Gookin ran the 43 yard touchdown in, and within the first two minutes of the game, Sonora led 14-0. From there, the Wildcats opened a relentless assault upon the Bullfrogs on both sides of the ball, forcing another punt and then quickly scoring again. Gookin ran in his second touchdown of the evening to put the Wildcats up 21-0 with 7:24 left in the first quarter.

Bret Harte showed some life after a defensive pass interference penalty on fourth down gave them a new set of downs at the Sonora 40-yard line. Junior Bullfrog quarterback Ryan Kraft then threw a 40 yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Julian Gonzalez, and a successful point after kick left the score at 21-7 with 4:37 left in the quarter.

Senior wide receiver Rico Sanchez then ran out of the backfield for a five yard touchdown, and Gookin later scored his third rushing touchdown. By the end of the first quarter, Sonora led 35-7.

The second quarter was no different, with three different Wildcats scoring four more touchdowns before the end of the period. Senior fullback Jack Camara rushed for 17- and 8- yard touchdowns, while junior running back C.J. Castleman scored from 30 yards out and junior running back Mike McKernon scored from the 19-yard line. Junior defensive back Aki Loh then intercepted a Kraft pass to end the half, and Sonora headed to the locker room up 63-7.

The Bullfrogs received the second half kickoff, but on their first play senior Wildcat defensive end Kyle Graham forced a fumble, and junior linebacker Tristan Hagstrom recovered for Sonora at the Bullfrog 46-yard line. The Bret Harte defense then held strong in one of the few highlights of their game and forced a turnover on downs to end the third quarter. Junior Wildcat defensive back Caleb Smith then intercepted another Kraft pass, returning the ball to the Bullfrog 13-yard line. Kraft took a brutal hit on the play and left the game. McKernon then scored another eight yard rushing touchdown, and with 6:35 left in the game and a continuously running clock, Sonora led 70-7.

On the ensuing Bret Harte possession, senior Bullfrog running back Javon Gilbert ran for an 85-yard touchdown, and a successful two-point conversion left the Wildcats up 70-15 with three minutes remaining. Sonora then easily ran out the clock to secure the victory.

“We came out and did what we were supposed to do,” Sonora head coach Bryan Craig said following the game. “We executed and I’m proud of them.”

“We didn’t have the size on our offensive or defensive line, and it showed,” said Bret Harte coach Casey Kester. “Senior lineman Jonathan Miramontes gave everything he possibly could given his size. At some point in time, the guys were just coming off the field cross-eyed. It was extraordinarily difficult. We were overmatched. Sonora has established coaches and an established weight lifting program, and that’s been the story all year. But most of our skill guys are juniors, so they’ll be back next season. We had to stop them at one point, but we just couldn’t stop them.”

The Bullfrogs finished the season at 2-8 overall and 1-5 in the league.

The Wildcats improved to 6-0 in league play, winning the league outright, and finished the season at 8-2 overall. The team finds out their next opponent and location for the first round of the Division V CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs during a selection session on Saturday. “We don’t know for sure, but we should be at home,” Craig said. The game is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.