The Calaveras varsity football team got its 2017 season off to a good start Friday night with a 44-24 victory over the El Capitan Gauchos from Merced.

Calaveras started strong by getting a safety within the first two minutes of the game.

After winning the toss and letting the Gauchos receive the kickoff, Calaveras pinned them deep on their own 6.

El Capitan quarterback Kevin Reid was sacked in the end zone by Calaveras lineman Victor Moore for a safety and two-point lead.

“I remember seeing the quarterback roll out and Victor hop on his back,” said Calaveras linebacker Chance Norton. “First thing I thought of was, ‘Safety, safety!’ That’s great for us, two points and we get the ball back.”

Calaveras went three and out on its first drive but once again pinned the Gauchos deep in their own territory off a punt from Calaveras quarterback Kyle Byrd, a senior.

Through the first half, Calaveras dominated on defense and never let the Gauchos past the Calaveras 44 yard line.

The first touchdown for Calaveras came off a third-yard run from senior Tanner Joses on Calaveras’ second drive of the game.

Calaveras kicker Kyle Alfred booted in the extra point to put Calaveras up 9-0 with 1:52 left in the first quarter.

Alfred went a perfect 6-6 on the night for extra point attempts.

On Calaveras’ third drive, Joses scored another touchdown off a third-yard run at 9:08 in the second quarter.

“All around we ran the ball hard and our offensive line played great,” said Byrd.

Byrd himself scored the third touchdown for Calaveras on its next drive, keeping the ball for a 13-yard run to the right side of the field.

“I always think of those NFL players who hide the ball behind so no one can see it and act like they’re just walking back to the sideline,” Byrd said. “That’s what I did and just snapped my head and took a step and the hole was there.”

Calaveras ended the first half with a 23-0 lead.

After receiving the kick to begin the second half, Calaveras quickly went to work and scored its fourth touchdown in the first three minutes of the third quarter off a one-yard run by Norton.

The Gauchos’ next drive ended in a turnover with an interception by Calaveras junior Logan Weatherby on third-and-four.

Calaveras, however, couldn’t capitalize on the turnover and punted the ball back to El Capitan.

El Capitan put its first points on the board during the ensuing drive off a 28-yard pass from Gauchos quarterback Kevin Reid to receiver Ronald Harris.

The Gauchos failed to complete the two-point conversion, bringing the score to 30-6 with 3:38 left in the third quarter.

Calaveras would answer the Gauchos on its next drive.

Weatherby powered through El Capitan’s line for a 1-yard run from the goal line and the team’s fifth touchdown of the night, bringing the score to 37-6 after the successful extra-point kick from Alfred.

However El Capitan wasn’t done yet as Gauchos receiver Adrian Moreno returned the kickoff 90 yards for the team’s second touchdown.

With the score 37-12, Calaveras drove the ball 64 yards for its sixth and final touchdown of the night off a 23-yard carry by Calaveras junior Jarrod Biondi with 6:14 left in the game.

The Gauchos would go on to score two more touchdowns but it was too little too late.

Calaveras head coach Jason Weatherby said the offensive line stepped it up in the second half, which he likened to a dogfight.

“We had something to prove, so our offensive line just really started hitting off and creating holes.” Weatherby said. “Instead of two or three yards and maybe break into seven (off rushes), we were getting seven to 10 the whole time.”

Calaveras next travels to Escalon High School to play the Escalon Cougars at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Contact Alex MacLean at or (209) 588-4530.