RedHawks top ‘Jackets in defensive battle

14455744_10209627814188932_1987566243_oWhile not offering much in the way of offense, last week’s varsity football contest between Williams and Colusa was defined by defensive and special teams play.

In what was an evenly matched, hard-hitting affair between the intra-county rivals, a 38-yard field goal in the fourth quarter by RedHawks place kicker Freddy Casillas was the deciding factor in Colusa’s 3-0 victory over the visiting Yellowjackets.

With 5:39 remaining in the game, the RedHawks field goal team lined up at the 27 yard line and Casillas’ kick sailed through the uprights, snapping a seven-quarter scoreless spell for the RedHawks.

“He had a really good day yesterday kicking, and we talked about it yesterday: If we get in a spot, he’s our guy,” Colusa head coach Sonny Badaluco said. “(Assistant) coach (Jim) Pingrey told me (it was) 37 yards, we sent him in, and he just went out there and kicked it. I’m super proud of him.”

Despite going out to kick the field goal without warming up, Casillas said he had a good feeling as he headed out onto the field.

“I had a feeling it was going (through), but those nerves hit you and it’s hard. But I focused, and luckily made it in,” Casillas said after the game. “My range is basically around 30 to 40-ish (yards), that’s where I feel comfortable.”

Neither offense found much room to work in the contest, as the RedHawks and Yellowjackets combined for only 269 yards of total offense.

Colusa’s defense held Williams to 103 total yards and forced three turnovers in their shutout of the ‘Jackets, which Badaluco attributed to a good game plan implemented by defensive coordinator Mike Badaluco and buy-in from his players.

“In the first quarter we missed a couple of tackles, but once we cleaned that up and started making tackles initially, (our game plan) really slowed them down,” Sonny Badaluco said.

Offensively, Colusa managed only 166 total yards on the night. Of the RedHawks 58 plays from scrimmage, about a quarter (15) went for no gain or negative yards. Despite the lackluster showing on offense, Badaluco said he was happy with the end result and was hopeful that his squad would be able to build on the momentum from the win going forward.

“Obviously, the defensive effort was great. There were some mistakes on offense, but our defense was what kept us in the game. Again, an ugly win is better than a pretty loss,” Badaluco said. “…We want to get something going here: This is the start of something we need to get going, whether its a winning streak or playing good football. Obviously, we need to get the offense going a little more, but a win is a win and we’re going to enjoy it.”

The first half of the contest had next to nothing in the way of offense, for either the ‘Jackets or the ‘Hawks. In five first half possessions, Colusa tallied 5 first downs and 87 yards, punted twice and turned the ball over on downs twice. Williams, which also had five first half possessions, had only 3 first downs and 46 yards of offense. The ‘Jackets punted three times and twice turned the ball over on downs.

Both squads were able to string some positive plays together in the second half, but penalties and turnovers ultimately caused those drives to stall.

Colusa twice fumbled away possession deep in Williams territory in the second half. Starting a third-quarter drive on the Williams 45-yard line after a Julius Fisher fumble, the RedHawks moved 13 yards in three plays. On second-and-9 from the Williams 21-yard line, Townsend was unable to handle a shotgun snap and Junior Leos recovered the fumble for Williams.

The RedHawks defense held and forced a Williams punt, and started their next possession near midfield. Davison rattled off three consecutive carries of 4, 1, 23 yards. On his next carry from the Williams 21-yard line, Davison scampered for 7 yards before Fisher recovered a fumble Williams’ own 11-yard line.

Williams would go three and out on the next possession, and Colusa’s Justin Pingrey returned the Yellowjackets’ punt to the Williams 30 yard line. Six plays later, Casillas came through on the game-winning field goal.

Colusa’s offense was led by quarterback Wade Townsend, who finished 4 for 11 for 43 yards. Running backs Nan Rodriguez and Lucas Davison led the charge on the ground for Colusa, with the former tallying 34 yards on 13 carries and the latter 65 yards on 19 carries.

For Williams, Julius Fisher had 30 yards rushing on 10 carries (both team highs). Close behind him were Juan Fernandez (8 carries, 25 yards) and Jorge Rodriguez (7 carries, 24 yards). Povlsen finished 3 of 12 for 17 yards. One of Povlsen’s completions – the quarterback’s first completion of the night – was to himself: His pass was batted at the line of scrimmage and back into his own arms for a four yard loss.

“My offense is struggling a lot, and its hard when you put your defense out there for about 80 percent of the game,” said Williams assistant head coach Armando Bautista. “That puts a lot of toll on your defense, especially with our small numbers. And a lot of guys go both ways: Our linemen were kind of dragging a little bit.”

Bautista added that his squad, hit hard by injuries after two hard-fought games against county rivals in three weeks, is headed into a bye week at the perfect time.

“It’s not going to be any break with East Nicolaus coming up, but at least we will have two weeks to prepare,” Bautista said. “Coach McDonald does a good job of putting that bye right before we start league, and it’s worked out well for us in the last four years, so we’ll see what happens.”

On defense, Alec Bailey led Colusa in tackles with 9, followed closely by Justin Davies (7) and Graeson Bell (6). Bailey also forced a fumble late in the third quarter and notched the first of Colusa’s three takeaways. Lucas Davison and Ben Rainsbarger each intercepted Yellowjackets sophomore quarterback Hunter Povlsen in the fourth quarter, with Rainsbarger’s coming on the final play of the game to seal the RedHawks’ win.

Fabian Davalos (11 tackles), Junior Leos and Jorge Rodriguez (10 tackles) led the way for the ‘Jackets on defense. Julius Fisher and Leos each had fumble recoveries for Williams.

While Williams has a bye this week before traveling to Nicholas to play the reigning state champions, Colusa hosts Esparto before opening their Sacramento Valley League play against Willows on Oct. 7.

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net