ATWATER — A broken toe delayed Justin Stefani's debut this season by one week.
It didn't take long to see the different dynamic he brings to the Buhach Colony High backfield on Friday night.
The 5-foot-9, 225-pound junior racked up 171 of 191 rushing yards and both his touchdowns in the first half as the Thunder routed Enochs 48-16 at Falcon Field.
"It felt good to be out there," Stefani said. "It felt like it's been coming for a long time. At first, I didn't think missing last week's game would be that big a deal. It's just one game, but when I got to the sideline I was teary eyed. It was tough."
Stefani broke free for a 20-yard touchdown run on his second carry of the game to give Buhach Colony (1-1) a 6-0 lead with 5:34 left in the first quarter.
His 85-yard touchdown run with 15 seconds left in the first half was a back-breaker for Enochs, as the Thunder went into halftime with a 22-8 lead.
"It helps a lot having him out there," said Buhach Colony co-head coach Kevin Swartwood. "He breaks tackles. Not that our other guys can't, but he has a knack for it and the body to do it."
Stefani's only worry was trying not to trip in the open field.
"I got great blocking from my line," he said. "They made it easy. I just had to outrun one guy and I got a great block down field by Rafael Sosa."
Swartwood liked the improvement he saw this week after the Thunder opened with a 68-30 loss to San Ramon Valley.
The biggest improvement came in the turnover department. After five turnovers against the Wolves in week zero, Buhach Colony didn't turn the ball over against the Eagles (0-2).
"That was one of our key goals," Swartwood said. "Our Wednesday night practice before our scrimmage against Central Catholic we fumbled eight times. Last week we fumbled four times before the SRV game. This week we had zero. We practice like we play."
Enochs struck quick in the second half as Gabe Gonzalez scored on a 50-yard touchdown run to pull the Eagles within 22-16 with 11:22 left in the third quarter.
However, the Thunder answered with three quick scoring drives to open up a 42-16 lead by the end of the third quarter.
"We have moments of brilliance, we just need to put the whole thing together," Enochs head coach James Stacy said. "We can't just have good series. We have to play well the whole time."
The Eagles couldn't slow down the Thunder fly offense.
The Thunder's Aundre Sherman finished with 118 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
After getting torched last week, the Buhach Colony defense buckled down and had a good showing.
"I think up front we played better overall," said Thunder co-head coach Kevin Navarra. "We became better tacklers. We got to the point of attack last week, we just didn't finish. Tonight we did a better job of finishing."
Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.