OROSI – A record-setting running back and a ball-hawking defense have the Orosi High Cardinals football team off to the program’s best start in not just years, but decades.
Senior Andrew Camarillo rushed for 199 and two touchdowns, surpassing 1,000 yards for the season and 5,000 for his career – and the Cardinals’ defense forced two turnovers and limited Lindsay High to just 48 combined rushing and passing yards while posting a 17-0 shutout victory at Ed Coats Stadium on Sept. 22.
Orosi improved to 2-0 in East Sequoia League play and a perfect 5-0 overall – the team’s best record after five weeks dating back to 2004 according to Max Preps archives. Even the 2019 team, which went 10-4 and advanced to the Central Section Division VI title game, was only 3-3 after six weeks.
“It’s probably back in the ‘80s when they won Valley titles,” coach Ben White said of the Cardinals’ start. “The defense, you can’t say enough about those guys. Our linebackers, those guys were great.” Orosi held Lindsay to just 35 yards passing and a mere 13 yards on 13 rush attempts, controlling the line of scrimmage to win the “Battle of the Cardinals.”
White pointed out the big plays from outside linebackers Valente Nieto (second quarter fumble recovery), Daniel Ballesteros and Estevan Quevedo, along with a strong pass rush from interior lineman and an interception from Jason De La Cruz (his sixth of the season, among the leaders in the state). Lindsay took its first possession of the game into Orosi territory, but only crossed midfield two other times.
A sack for a big loss forced a short Lindsay punt, and Orosi moved into the red zone on completions from Lance Lopez to Benito Villarreal (18 yards) and Justin Villatoro (11 yards). A pair of personal fouls on the visiting Cardinals moved the ball to the 3, and Camarillo squeezed through a hole on the left side to score standing with 42 seconds left in the first quarter.
The 5-foot-6, 175 pound Camarillo was kept bottled up for much of the half by a Lindsay defense that put seven or eight defenders up to the line. But Orosi’s career rushing leader started to find some big holes in the second half, and managed to shake off a mild leg injury in the third quarter before busting loose for more than 100 yards in the final 12 minutes.
Orosi’ first possession of the fourth quarter stalled at the Lindsay 5 after an incompletion in the end zone, and Villatoro kicked a 22-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead with just under nine minutes left in the game. Lindsay’s ensuing drive got inside Orosi territory one final time, but on fourth down a strong pass rush sacked quarterback Uriah Guerrero back at the 45 with a little more than seven minutes remaining.
Camarillo then salted the victory away, ripping through the left side and racing 49 yards to the end zone for a three-score lead. Play began getting chippy on both sides, with Orosi being flagged for a personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct infraction. But De La Cruz intercepted a long Lindsay pass to end the final threat by the visitors.
Orosi then fed the ball to Camarillo, who ripped off runs of 9, 21 and 33 yards as the hosts successfully ran out the clock. Camarillo finished with 27 carries on the night, and he now has 1,093 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season. He also surpassed the 5,000-yard career mark, and now sits with 5,071 yards and 73 rushing touchdowns in three-plus seasons.
“We’ve really got to work on our passing game the rest of the year, because a lot of teams are going to run that kind of defense on us to stack the box to stop Andrew,” said White, pointing out the Cardinals’ 56 yards passing on just four plays. “So we have to make some adjustments ourselves, but that’s what’s fun about football.”
Guerrero finished 5 of 12 for 35 yards for Lindsay, and no individual Cardinal ball carrier was able to eclipse 10 rushing yards. Senior Joseph Ceballos finished the night with 14 tackles defensively for the visitors.
Orosi has another big home game this Friday, Sept. 29, at home against defending ESL co-champion Strathmore (3-2, 2-0) in a 7:15 p.m. kickoff. The Spartans trounced Farmersville, 56-0, on Sept. 22. Orosi then has road games at Granite Hills (0-5, 0-2) on Oct. 5 and co-champ Corcoran (4-1, 2-0).
Lindsay (2-3, 0-2) has a 7:15 p.m home game Friday, Sept. 22, against Corcoran. The Cardinals then host Farmersville on Oct. 6.