Hilmar prepares for Center, Anderson

sjansen@mercedsunstar.comNovember 27, 2013 

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    What: Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 semifinals

    Who: Center (9-3) at Hilmar (12-0)

    When: Friday, 7 p.m.

    Where: McSweeney Field

— Frank Marques remembers other coaches telling how they had a tough time preparing to face former Hilmar quarterback Nathan Costa.

Teams didn’t have a player who could simulate what Costa could do during practice.

That’s how Marques feels this week as his No. 2 seeded Yellowjackets (12-0) prep to face No. 6 Center (9-3) and its dynamic quarterback Tyrel Anderson in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 semifinals on Friday at McSweeney Field.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“You can’t simulate what (Anderson) can do,” Marques said. “When we had Nathan Costa coaches would tell me the same thing all the time. (Anderson) isn’t extremely fast, but he’s extremely quick. He’s got powerful legs, he breaks tackles. He’s really explosive. He use the term it’s like trying herd cats. He’s really elusive. We don’t have that type of kid.”

Anderson has thrown for 1,089 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s also rushed for 951 yards and eight touchdowns.

“Our defense is designed for a guy like him,” Marques said. “All our guys on defense are athletes. It’s not like we have to rely on our linebackers or secondary. Our defensive line can run too.”

It’s hard to key on Anderson when the Cougars also have a running back in Joe Swen, who has rushed for 1,538 yards and 23 touchdowns.

The Yellowjackets defense has been dominant this season, limiting team to just over nine points per game. The Hilmar defense has been led by middle linebacker Jonathan Bello, who has racked up 107 tackles. Defensive ends Bernardo Duran (13 sacks) and Robert Lindo (12 sacks) spend the bulk of Friday nights causing havoc in the backfield.

Facing Center’s explosive offense, the Yellowjackets will have more success than they had last week in a 14-7 win over Escalon. Hilmar has a solid duel-threat quarterback of its own in Jonathan O’Brien. The senior has passed for 1,826 yards and 24 touchdowns, with just two interceptions. O’Brien also leads the team with 509 yards rushing and eight touchdowns.

Marques also likes his kicker Devon Mederios if the game comes down to a big kick.

“With Center the fear is the big play,” Marques said. “They’re going to score points. Our offense is going to have score at least three times. I think Mederios can be the difference in the game. I think that could be a tipping point in the game for us.”

Hilmar will be spending its Thanksgiving morning on the practice field at 8 a.m. After a two-hour walk-through, the team will eat breakfast burritos provided by the football boosters.

“It’s always a treat to be able to practice on Thanksgiving,” said Marques, who has held Thanksgiving practices in five of his 11 seasons as head coach. “It’s a yardstick of what kind of season you’ve had if you’re practicing on Thanksgiving.”

Sun-Star staff writer Shawn Jansen can be reached at (209) 385-2462 or sjansen@mercedsunstar.com.

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