TRACY – Just minutes into the second quarter of Bret Harte High School’s visit to take on the Delta Charter Dragons, the Bullfrogs found themselves trailing 8-0. The Saturday temperature had dropped significantly against recent trends, but the sun was out and the wind was picking up. Newly dedicated Elias Gamez Field was buzzing with delight, as fans of the Dragon football team began to believe they could see the second victory in their program’s short history.
The 8-0 score was the culmination of a 15-play drive that featured three 15-yard penalties against the Bullfrogs, including one on a punt that was nearly blocked. What was most disheartening, the penalties overshadowed very good defensive play by the Bullfrogs, spearheaded by linebacker Tyler Cabral and sophomore call-up Joey Fillmore.
After Delta Charter took the lead, the following Bret Harte offensive possession ended after a fumble on a short run. This was the second fumble that plagued the Bullfrogs in the first half. However, with so much that went wrong in the opening 24 minutes, Bret Harte never folded and outscored Delta Charter 19-0 in the second half and ended the afternoon with a 33-8 victory.
After the game, Bret Harte head coach Casey Kester spoke about the first few possessions, saying, “It was very frustrating. You go through things with the kids repeatedly and you get on the field and that ball has a way of bouncing funny. We were running the ball, playing defense, but penalties killed us.”
Following Bret Harte’s second fumble of the game, which came early in the second quarter, the Bullfrog defense forced Delta Charter to punt and the Bret Harte special team’s unit generated instant pressure. The snap was high, which gave Bret Harte senior Adam Ange time beat his defender, block the punt, recover it, and return it in for a touchdown. Ange’s special team’s touchdown was the spark that ignited Bret Harte for the remainder of the game.
“I went in and blocked it and when I saw the ball rolling, I thought, ‘Please don’t screw this up,’’ Ange said. “I think it set the tempo and I hope it got everyone hyped.”
The most notable player that got hyped by this play was junior running back Tyler Cabral, and he was followed closely by the offensive line. Once the Bullfrogs made it a one-point game, the offensive line took over. Over the course of the next two-and-a-half quarters, the option run game began to wear down the Dragon defense.
“I saw a lot of good effort by both teams with good reads from our quarterback and running backs,” said center Alec Landry. “Props to everyone who got the touchdowns.”
Cabral took advantage of strong blocking and found the end zone three times and finished with 16 rushes for 110 yards. Senior Cole Sperry also added a short touchdown, while quarterback Kenny Scott, and first-time fullback Ange also contributed positive yardage on the ground.
Cabral, who has become an integral part on both sides of the ball, remarked about his performance after the game, saying, “Getting those touchdowns felt great. My blockers did their assignments and there were some great reads by Kenny (Scott). And give all the credit to my guys up front.”
Bret Harte (1-1) took the lead in the second quarter after a bad snap on a punt was recovered by Ange and set up a short field for the Bullfrog offense. Two plays later, Cabral was weaving his way through the heart of the Dragon defense for his first rushing touchdown of the season.
Offensively, the Bullfrogs added a new wrinkle featuring a wishbone formation that was effective producing rushing yards.
“It is a bridge offensive adjustment,” Kester said. “Having only 16 players, I learned the hard way that I need to put the players in spots they know. When we rotate into the ’bone, there is consistency there. It doesn’t change our offense and it is a way for me to leverage the players I have.”
The Bullfrogs never looked back and with the lead came the defensive pressure. Junior defensive linemen Kodiak Stephens was a true menace for the Dragon offensive line, recording multiple sacks and teaming up with fellow defenders Victor Gallardo and Thomas Grant, held the Dragons out of the end zone. Kicker Emmanuel Nava also stepped up and played cornerback and made an open field tackle to prevent a first down, as well as defending against a couple of long pass attempts. On every level, the defense stepped up and shut down the Dragons.
“It’s a very good feeling getting an early victory,” Kester said. “I hate and detest losing and it is great for the kids (to get this win). They are going to feel a lot better at school this week.”
After opening the season with back-to-back road games, the Bullfrogs come home to play at Dorroh Field for the next four weeks and begin that stretch by welcoming El Dorado to Angels Camp at 7 p.m., Sept. 13.
Bret Harte’s JV team picked up its first win of the season with a 33-12 victory over Delta Charter Saturday morning in Tracy. Jaden Stritenburger scored three times and Kyler Rolleri found the end zone twice. Quarterback Dylan Knick completed four passes and Sierra Blodgett converted three PATs.
Bret Harte is now 1-1.