In last week’s varsity football match-up between the Williams Yellowjackets and Willows Honkers on Sept. 16, the gamesmanship began well before the opening kickoff.
Following the conclusion of the junior varsity contest, which Williams won 14-7, the Honkers’ varsity squad lined up under the goalpost in the eastern end-zone. The Willows band and cheer squad formed a formed a tunnel that began at the goal line and stretched nearly to midfield. The problem? The east half of McCarl Field is always occupied by the ‘Jackets during pre-game warm-ups.
The Williams squad went out and lined up for warm-ups on the east side of the field anyway, and began their typical warm-up routine in the midst of Willows band members, cheerleaders, and football players — and did jumping jacks as if Willows wasn’t even there.
The first whistle of the contest came with 10 minutes remaining in the period between varsity and junior varsity games. No flags were thrown, as neither side technically did anything wrong. Still, the unusual circumstances prompted the officials to talk to the coaches and caution Williams High School principal Nicholas Richter.
“We’ve never had a problem, in as many times as we have played,” Richter told the referee.
Notably, there were no problems between the two teams in their latest meeting on Friday.
When asked by the officials to move, the Willows band’s drum major picked up his baton, and calmly led the visiting school’s band, cheerleaders, and players — in formation — around the Williams players to the other side of the field.
Willows’ pre-game march to the other end-zone proved to be an auspicious one, as the Honkers offense would follow suit early and often when the game finally started, en route to a 42-8 blowout of the Yellowjackets.
Things didn’t start horribly for the ‘Jackets squad. They began the game with a short field after a failed onside attempt by the Honkers, and drove 27 yards in six plays before coming up short on fourth-and-6 from the Willows 15-yard line.
On their second play after taking over on downs, Honkers quarterback Danny Chavez hit running back Gilberto Macias on a screen that went 77 yards for a touchdown, but was negated by a flag for clipping. Willows was forced to punt three plays later, but that would be the last time the Honkers’ starting offense would be held in check by the ‘Jackets.
The Honkers’ defense forced a Julius Fisher fumble on the ‘Jackets following drive, and took over at their own 37-yard line. The fumble came on Fisher’s only series of the night. The Yellowjackets’ star running back, still hampered by an ankle injury he sustained last week against Pierce, played only three snaps.
The Honkers capped a six play, 63-yard drive when Chavez who found fullback Eduardo Robles open on a wheel route for a 32-yard score with 40 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The Honkers exploded in the second quarter, scoring 28 unanswered points and racking up 251 yards.
Chavez hooked up with Logan Blair and Luke Taylor for a 22-yard and 25-yard touchdown strike, respectively, Macias scored on a two2-yard run, and Leo Esparza scored from 15 yards out on the ground in the quarter.
The Honkers’ starters played one more series in the third quarter. Pushed back to their own two2-yard line on after numerous penalties in the opening drive of the third quarter, Chavez found Jesus Cardenas for a 6-yard completion. On third-and-8, Chavez connected with Nestor Chavez for 34 yards on a deep post. The following play, Macias sprinted 58 yards for another rushing score. With 9:52 remaining in the third quarter, Willows was finished scoring for the night and was up 42-0.
The Yellowjackets narrowly missed getting into the end zone on their next drive, marching 60 yards in 13 plays before fullback Diego Carreno was stuffed on fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line, as time expired in the third.
Three plays later, ‘Jackets defense finally got their squad on the scoreboard with a safety, making it 42-2 opening minutes of the fourth quarter. After the free kick, Williams marched 55 yards in 11 plays and Jorge Rodriguez punched in a 3-yard score, making it 42-8. The Honkers ran out the remainder of the clock to keep the score there.
Leading the way on offense for the Yellowjackets were Juan Fernandez (12 carries, 94 yards) and Jorge Rodriguez (13 carries, 70 yards, 1 touchdown).
Willows (4-0) finished with 434 yards of offense to Williams’ 226. Chavez finished 10/11 with 196 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. On the ground, the Honkers were led by Macias with 7 carries, 95 yards and 2 touchdowns. Seven other players had carries for the Honkers.
Next up for the Williams (3-1) is an intra-county rivalry game against Colusa (2-2), which lost to Durham last week.■