HILMAR -- Expect Frank Marques to do things a little differently if Hilmar faces Escalon in the playoffs.
Marques was so concerned about stopping Escalon's speedster Josh Miguel and the Cougars' battering ram Matt Roberson that the Yellowjackets spent the majority of their practice this week working on defense.
It showed on Friday night.
Hilmar's defense was spectacular, holding the defending state champions to just 10 points.
However, the neglected offense never got going.
Little mistakes like a dropped pass here or a quarterback colliding with a lineman there, turned out to be too much to overcome against Escalon's stifling defense.
"We've got to get better on offense," Marques said. "We were so worried about stopping their offense, we spent a lot of time at practice.
"We really worked hard. They're the state champs for a reason. They're legit, but we really closed the gap a lot from last year. I hope we get to see them down the road."
The Yellowjackets (5-1 Trans-Valley League, 8-2 overall) came into the game confident.
The moment wasn't too big for this group. The players were relaxed in the weight room before the game.
Marques and his coaching staff did their best to try to downplay the big matchup.
There was even a quote from Will Ferrell's movie character Ricky Bobby written on the white board.
"If you ain't first, you're last."
Hilmar is far from last.
The Yellowjackets just made little mistakes you can't afford to make against a team like Escalon (5-0, 9-0).
Hilmar quarterback Andrew Olson, who had thrown only two interceptions all season, threw two picks.
Kurtis Bettencourt has been drilling field goals all year, but he missed two long attempts Friday.
There were too many fumbled exchanges between Olson and the running backs. The Yellowjackets had great field position the entire first half and couldn't score.
Hilmar can overcome these kinds of mistakes against the rest of the TVL, but not against Escalon.
"Just too many little things," Olson said. "We had a crucial third and three and we called a keeper. I ran into my tackle when I should have waited. I was too anxious. I put this loss on myself 100 percent."
There was plenty of blame to go around, but if you look at the bigger picture ... it wasn't too bad.
These are all things the Yellowjackets can fix. There's no shame in losing to the defending state champions 10-0.
With a bye next week, Hilmar has two weeks to get ready for the playoffs.
"We will get better," Marques said. "I guarantee it."
I don't doubt it.
Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com.