Football: Tigers outmuscle Golden Bears

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Adjustments in second half lead Woodlake to 2-0 in the East Sequoia League

By Patrick Dillon
@PDillon_SGN

HANFORD – It was a tale of two halves in the Woodlake Tigers’ 28-12 win over the Sierra Pacific Golden Bears last Friday night. Ultimately it was the adjustments on the Tigers’ defense which provided the win.

“We played well enough to win, but we did not play real good,” Woodlake Head coach Jeff Johnson said. “We need to understand that no game is going to be given to us.”

The Tigers’ (5-1, 2-0) defense has grown accustom to being the most physical players on the field this season. They have one shutout to their credit and have not allowed a team to score more than 21 points in a single game.

Last Friday however, the Golden Bears’ (2-3, 0-1) offense threated to hand the Tigers their second loss of the season with their speed. Instead of attacking the interior of the Tigers’ defense, the Golden Bears ran along the outside. Their faster wide receivers were able to gain the edge more effectively. That allowed Sierra Pacific to stay close behind Woodlake 14-12 at halftime.

In the second half the Tigers took a couple of their faster players, who could keep up with the Golden Bears’ sweep runners and placed them further outside. The adjustment to not give up the edge worked as the Tigers shutout the Golden Bears in the second half.

“We came out with a little more intensity in the second half,” Johnson said.

The positive play by the Tigers fed over to the offensive side of the ball. In the third quarter Damian Hernandez passed for a score to make it 21-12. Then in the fourth the Tigers added another rushing score. Victor Rojas continued to assert his dominance as not only the Tigers’ leading running back, but one of the primer backs in the East Sequoia League. He rushed 20 times for 127 yards and a score. It is the second straight game he has rushed for more than 100 yards.

“Offensively we knew what we had to do, we just had to do things better,” Johnson said.

Damian Hernandez had the Tigers’ other rushing touchdown as he had two carries for 16 yards. He also went 13-17 for 204 yards and two passing scores. Both were to Bryan Cuevas who hauled in seven catches for 145 yards.

Before this week the Tigers had outscored their last two opponents by a combined score of 112-7. Johnson feels this was a good test heading into this week’s game against the two-time ESL champs, the Strathmore Spartans. A game which has major title implications. The winner will be in full control of the league.

“I think my kids get the magnitude of this game coming up,” Johnson said. “How often do you get a chance to play a defending state champion.”

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