SANGER – The Sanger High Apaches’ physical ground game and strong defensive play picked right back up where it left off before its bye week, and the Justin Garza High Guardians proved to be no match in the County Metro Athletic Conference football opener for both teams on Sept. 29.
Buoyed by a fumble return for a touchdown to open up the game, the Apaches (5-1, 1-0) rushed for nearly 300 yards – with Bryson Baker running for three touchdowns and Israel Robles adding two scores – and marched to a methodical 41-14 win over Garza (2-4, 0-1) at Tom Flores Hall of Fame Stadium. It was Sanger’s third consecutive win after its only stumble, a non-league loss at Clovis East last month.
“I thought we executed the game plan well on both sides of the ball,” said SHD coach Matt Logue. The Apaches finished with 354 total yards and shut the Guardians out for nearly three full quarters.
The Apaches took control in the opening moments, as Tomas Barajas scooped up a fumble on the opening kickoff and raced 20 yards to the end zone. Despite a missed extra point, the hosts delivered the first big punch that Garza never was able to recover from.
The Guardians tried on their ensuing possession, moving to the SHS 20 before a Nathan Velasquez sack squelched the drive and the Apaches took over on downs. Later in the quarter, a long run by Baker helped move Sanger inside the Garza 20. From the 19, senior running back Robles (105 yards on 14 carries) raced into the end zone for a 13-0 lead with three minutes left in the quarter.
Sanger’s domination continued in the second, as Baker (who led the team with 132 rush yards on nine carries and three touchdowns) capped a possession with a 9-yard TD three minutes in. Following a Guardians punt, the Apaches posted another long drive that culminated in Robles’ 9-yard rushing score with three minutes left to make it 27-0.
The Apaches made it 34-0 five minutes into the second half, with quarterback Jaden Chanthalangsy connecting with Carlos Young on a long pass followed by Baker’s 10-yard TD run. The Sanger defense shut down Garza’s offense again, and following a punt Baker raced 66 yards for another rushing touchdown and the PAT made it 41-0 with two minutes left in the third.
Garza finally broke up the shutout sparked by a long kick return by Omar Bogan to the SHS 11. Moments later, Jack Petrissans scored from a yard out. The Guardians added another score in the game’s final three minutes on a 10-yard run by Lee Williams.
The Apaches conclude their three-game homestand this Friday, Oct. 6 with a 7:30 p.m. CMAC contest against Edison High. The Tigers (1-5, 0-1) lost their conference opener by a tight 22-21 score at San Joaquin Memorial on Sept. 29.
“Edison has a lot of talent and athleticism, and it’s going to be a tough game,” Logue said. “Hopefully, we can get a win in front of our fans on homecoming (night).”
In other games last week:
Orosi 28, Strathmore 7 – At George Millhorn Stadium in Orosi, the unbeaten Cardinals (6-0, 3-0 East Sequoia League) rode the strength of 149 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries from running back Andrew Camarillo while controlling the line of scrimmage against the defending ESL co-champion Spartans (3-3, 2-1).
“Our offense and defensive lines dominated the game,” said Cardinals coach Ben White, whose team took control after wiping out an early 7-0 deficit. “Our linebackers shut down their run game all night. Offensively, we just played ball control football and we executed that all night.”
Senior Camarillo scored on runs of 4, 5 and 2 yards and demonstrated strong inside running ability on his multiple carries. The touchdowns in the second and third quarters broke a 7-7 tie.
Strathmore scored first when running back Jacob Poole (who had 66 yards on 14 carries) scored on a 4-yard run. Orosi answered back when quarterback Lance Lopez capped a drive by connecting with Benito Villarreal on an 8-yard TD pass in the final two minutes of the first. Junior Daniel Ballesteros added 60 yards on six carries for the Cardinals, who finished with 236 rushing and 317 total yards.
“(Strathmore) had a very difficult time stopping our offense,” White said of Orosi, which didn’t have a punt on the night. Defensively, sophomore DB Jason De La Cruz collected his seventh pass interception of the season.
Orosii has a short week this week, traveling to Porterville on Thursday, Oct. 5 to take on Granite Hills (1-5, 1-2 ESL) in a 7:15 p.m. kickoff at GHHS stadium. The Grizzlies pickled up their first win of the season last week, 28-14 at Farmersville. The Cardinals then travel to Corcoran for an Oct. 13 showdown against the Panthers (5-1, 3-0).
Woodlake 26, Orange Cove 20 (OT) – At Titan Stadium, the visiting Tigers (2-3, 2-1 East Sequoia) recovered a fumble in the overtime period and pulled out the victory on Saul Rodriguez’s 10-yard touchdown run. Orange Cove (3-3, 2-2) scored a rushing touchdown in the third quarter to tie the game, and finished with 207 total yards.
Quarterback Oscar Alvarez had 60 passing yards with a touchdown for the Titans, who couldn’t hold a 13-6 lead after the opening quarter. Woodlake rushed for a pair of touchdowns in the middle two quarters to take a 20-13 lead, but the Titans managed to stay close and tie the game despite allowing 381 total yards, 124 in the opening quarter.
“We have to do a better job defensively, moving forward if we want to compete next week against Corcoran,” OC coach Horacio Bravo said. The Titans and Panthers square off Friday, Oct. 6 in a 7:15 p.m. start at Corcoran High Stadium.
Matilda Torres 49, Sanger West 13 – At Madera, the Hornets fell to 3-3 on the season and 2-1 in North Yosemite League play as the host Toros dominated throughout to collect their third consecutive NYL win. Sanger West had its two-game league win streak snapped, after winning on the road against Hoover and at home over Madera South.
The Hornets remain on the road Friday, Oct. 6, taking on McLane High (4-2, 2-1) in Fresno at 7:30 p.m. The team then closes out three regular seasons with a trio of home games against Fresno (Oct. 13), Roosevelt (Oct. 20) and Sunnyside (Thursday, Oct. 26).
Yosemite 20, Parlier 18 – At Parlier, the Panthers (1-5, 0-3 Northwest Yosemite League) dropped their fourth straight game as the visiting Badgers (2-4, 1-2) pulled out a close victory to collect their first league win.
Parlier hit the road on Friday, Oct. 6, to take on Caruthers High (4-2, 3-0) in a scheduled 7 p.m. kickoff. The Blue Raiders feature star running back Hunter Babb, who leads the state in rushing through five games with more than 1,500 yards and 23 touchdowns.