LOS BANOS — After the Los Banos offense struggled in the last two games of the regular season, coach Dustin Caropreso challenged the unit to rediscover its identity.
Fifth-seeded LB's offense responded in a 41-18 rout over No. 12 Summerville in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 playoffs on the strength of three passing touchdowns and 217 passing yards from quarterback Chris Corpuz.
"It feels great. I told the guys we need to get back to what we were doing good," Caropreso said. "I thought we did exactly what we needed to do."
LB running back James Sams finished with 123 yards on 18 carries and a pair of scores -- including a 3-yard touchdown in the first quarter that looked like Summerville's Brendan Brick had him stopped at the line. Sams lowered his shoulder and ran over Brick, then bounced off another defender on his way into the end zone.
"We got the ball in Sams' hands, and was he 100 percent? I don't think so," Caropreso said. "But that guy's a gamer, and at 90 percent he's pretty darn good."
Corpuz spread the ball to four receivers, with Keith Turner catching four for 100 yards and a touchdown and Daeton West bringing in a 62-yard touchdown that he caught at the 23-yard line, stepped inside to let a defensive back overshoot, then scampered down the field for the score.
Tight end Markus Rico got involved in the passing game as well -- Corpuz found him crossing the back of the end zone in the second quarter for a 3-yard touchdown. It was Rico's first touchdown of the season.
"I was running my route, and I looked up and Corpuz looked at me and threw it," Rico said. "I was shocked. I wasn't expecting it."
Hernandez was equally shocked to come up with his interception in the fourth quarter when he calmly stepped inside the receiver on a slant route and snagged the ball. His teammates mobbed the junior.
"Daeton was a little under the weather this week. Jesse's played there for us before, and it's always good when you can put a guy in like that and he comes up with a big play," Caropreso said. "He was surprised, but our defense put so much pressure on that guy, he didn't have a chance to sit back there and throw it."