The Tracy High football team’s 28-14 loss to St. Mary’s on Friday had some signs of encouragement for the Bulldogs, who put up a defense that shut down a couple of the Rams’ potential scoring drives and limited their offensive gains.
Just being able to hold the Rams (4-4, 3-0 Tri-City Athletic League) to 28 points after a 62-41 loss to Lincoln last week was a plus for the Tracy team (2-6, 1-2 TCAL). Tracy senior quarterback Logan Fife said the Bulldog defense gave him a better opportunity to make it a close game.
“We knew our defense had to step up a little bit -- especially compared to last week when we had a rough one -- and they did. They kept us in the game the whole time, and on offense we had to execute,” Fife said. “We usually make some of the bigger plays and tonight we missed them by a few inches. That’s football.”
The Rams covered 327 yards of offense, most of it from junior running back Tyrei Washington, with 166-yards on 28 carries, and senior quarterback Noah May, completing 12 of 19 passes for 161 yards.
May’s passing could have counted for a lot more had it not been for Tracy junior defensive back Tommy Chavez. He picked off two of May’s passes in the end zone, including one to nullify the Rams’ first drive of the night and also to end the Rams’ first drive of the second quarter, allowing Tracy to keep the Rams scoreless for most of the first half.
“Coming into this, St. Mary’s is a powerhouse every year, it’s hard. Our defense played their hearts out though,” Chavez said.
“Our mentality coming in was, let’s go. We’ve got to bring it to them,” he said. “We learned that we’re not giving up on games. This is a good team and they fought hard but we fought back.”
The Bulldogs totaled 293 yards of offense on Friday, with Fife connecting on 11 of 28 passes for 195 yards. He also was responsible for the bulk of Tracy’s running game, but fumbles and sacks negated many of his gains, leaving him with 48 rushing yards on 25 carries.
St. Mary’s scored just after midway through the second quarter when May connected with senior Elijah Wood for a 44-yard touchdown, and the Rams then covered 72 yards on seven plays, including a 2-yard touchdown run for Washington, to put St. Mary’s up 14-0 at the half.
May passed to sophomore Jadyn Marshall for an 8-yard touchdown on the Rams’ first possession of the second half, and the Rams went up 28-0 later in the third quarter when junior Charles Jones intercepted a Fife pass and ran it back 70 yards for a touchdown.
Tracy answered with a 14-play, 80-yard drive, with Fife making the 1-yard rushing touchdown. After the Rams went for an unsuccessful field goal the Bulldogs covered 80 yards again, this time on just five plays, including a pass from Fife to senior Blake Vollbrecht, who was wide open on the right side for a 52-yard dash to the end zone to make it a 28-14 game. Senior Matthew Giuliacci made both of his point-after kicks.
Vollbrecht totaled five receptions for 120 yards on Friday
“We knew it would be a tough game, but we thought that we had a better chance than we usually would, because our team is a lot better than it has been, and their team is not as good as it has been in the past,” Vollbrecht said. “Just come out and make plays. That’s all we try to do every year.”
Tracy coach Matt Shrout said he also expects the Rams, the TCAL’s repeat league champion, to be among Tracy’s hardest competition in any year.
“They’re athletic. They’re the best athletes money can buy. They prepare well. They’re well coached. They have depth that most schools don’t,” Shrout said, adding that his players stepped up to the challenge to deny the Rams further scoring opportunities.
“I don’t think (St. Mary’s) made mistakes. I think we played it right finally. We’re playing better and I’m ready to move on,” Shrout said.
Tracy travels to Lodi next week, and hosts West for the final week on Nov. 1, with a chance to make playoffs, with this year’s brackets decided based on teams’ rankings. League champions are automatic qualifiers for playoffs, and all other teams must have at least four wins, and will be ranked based on the strength of their records and the strength of their schedules.
St. Mary’s won the junior varsity game 26-25, and on Thursday the St. Mary’s freshmen defeated Tracy 25-20.
Lodi 37, West 13
The Lodi Flames (5-3, 1-2 TCAL) took over in the second half to take the 37-13 win over West (1-7, 0-3 TCAL) on Friday at Steve Lopez Stadium.
The Wolf Pack and Flames played to a 7-7 tie in the first quarter, with senior Elijah McKnight putting West on the scoreboard with a 70-yard run, and junior Jasmine Cochiaosue making the point-after kick. The Flames scored twice in the second quarter to take a 21-7 halftime lead.
West came out with a touchdown in the third quarter, with McKnight completing a 14-yard pass to senior Nathan Nelson. Lodi scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter and a field goal in the fourth to get the 37-13 win.
Lodi won the junior varsity game 41-6
Oakdale 49, Kimball 21
The Oakdale Mustangs (6-3, 4-1 Valley Oak League) claimed a decisive win over the Kimball Jaguars, 49-21, on Friday at Don Nicholson Stadium.
The Mustangs scored on their first possession and the Jaguars (5-4, 2-3 VOL) tied it up on their first possession with a touchdown run for senior Louie Pacheco. After that the Jaguars had a tough time trying to stop the Oakdale offense.
Kimball scored twice more, including a touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Nicholas Coronado to senior Darren Jackson in the second quarter, and another touchdown run for Pacheco in the third quarter. Jose Ahumada made all three of his point-after kicks.
Coronado finished the night with 312 yards on 34 of 46 passes, with seven of those passes to senior Kaleo Ballungay for 107 yards, nine to senior Jaxen North for 81 yards and seven to senior Andre McDaniel for 66 yards.
Kimball coach Mike Kuhnlenz added that senior tight end Ballungay made a significant contribution to much of the Jaguars’ offensive production, not just as a receiver but with blocking of Oakdale’s defense as Coronado hit his targets on screen passes.
Oakdale’s junior varsity team beat Kimball 51-21.
Pacheco 18, Mountain House 0
After a scoreless first quarter the Pacheco Panthers of scored twice in the second quarter and again in the third to take the 18-0 win on Friday at Mountain House High. The outcome puts the Mustangs at 0-8 overall, 0-5 in the Western Athletic Conference. Pacheco is 4-4, 3-2 WAC.
The Mountain House junior varsity team beat Pacheco 27-0.