By Krissy Hetherington
Special to the Sun-Gazette Newspaper
VISALIA- Under the Friday Night Lights in the Mineral King Bowl on Friday, Oct. 12, the Hanford Bullpups triumphed over Redwood 34-14. Their deadly weapons: a strong and powerful Texas Tech commit quarterback and positive, uplifting coaching staff lead by head coach, Josh Young.
Going into this game, both teams were undefeated (2-0) in the West Yosemite League (WYL), so stakes were high. Now that Hanford gained the sole spot at top, it is most likely they will keep this position and remain league champions. They will go on to compete against Golden West next Friday. If they win, they are guaranteed at least a share of the title.
Young’s expectations prior to the game were simple: “We needed to execute, Redwood plays really sound football, they’re coached really well, we needed to execute, make tackles, and we played the best game of the year so far and we need to continue to do that in WYL. He really enjoys coaching these boys and specifically, “their heart and desire to win, their will to win, they know what’s at stake and the importance of a league championship, which has been our number 1 goal all year that we’re just trying to achieve.
Hanford’s quarterback, Juaron Watts-Brown finished the game with four touchdowns. His successful offense and the defense’s ability to create a great limit on Redwood led to the overall team victory.
“We want to win league, that’s our biggest goal, coming into this both undefeated, we had to get the dub,” Watts-Brown said.
In the first quarter, Hanford struck first on the feet of Watts-Brown from the two yard line. It gave the Bullpups a 7-0 lead and was the only action in the quarter.
Redwood answered Hanford’s early score with one of their own in the second quarter. Caden Shafer punch in from four yards out making it 7-7.
The game was not tied for long as on the ensuing Hanford drive they began to pull away with two more rushing scores. Luttrell Young and Watts-Brown score on runs of nine and six yards, and after one missed extra point put their team ahead 20-7.
With 1:31 left in the half, Redwood was able to cut the lead to 20-14 after a 31-yard pass from Julian Sanchez who connects with La Dre Aguilar.
The game slowed to a defensive struggle in the second half as both defenses kept teams out of the endzone in the third quarter. Hanford’s defense did the biggest damage when they blocked a punt and recovered the ball on the Rangers 14 yard line. A few plays later Watts-Brown rushed in for this third score to make it 27-14. His last score came after the Bullpups intercepted a pass from Sanchez on the Ranger’s ensuing drive.
“[We planned to beat them up front], they couldn’t hold against us, they got tired after the first half, and we just kept punching them in the mouth,” Watts-Brown said.
Hanford didn’t hold back from scoring when the opportunity was given proving them to be a strong, competitive team to look out for in the last few weeks of regular season and postseason.
Hanford heads into their last two games of league with their heads held high off the previous three wins but remain humbled by their coaches and the clear leaders of the team. Being 3-0 now, Hanford’s head coach.
“It feels great, we’re starting to come together as a football team and find our identity, they came out in the second half and played really great football, I’m really happy where we’re at, there’s still a lot of football left,” Hanford head coach Josh Young says.