Los Banos High brought the intensity, and a little luck, to the Westside War on Friday, running away with a 43-3 victory in the 79th meeting between the two schools.
A pair of sophomores powered the Tigers to the win, with running back David Walker piling up 137 yards on 17 carries, and Adam Herrera coming up with a fumble recovery and several plays in the DP backfield on defense.
“It’s huge, I mean it’s a game that we try to stress to our kids that it’s one of the bigger crowds they’re going to play in front of. There’s a lot of people here tonight,” said Los Banos coach Dustin Caropreso, who now holds a 2-0 record against the Broncos. “Being here from Los Banos, this is huge to be 2-0 against them as a head coach.
“And it was a big win for us. We got beat up last week against that Manteca team, and we came out and we responded. We had a great week of practice, and the kids responded well.”
Dos Palos still holds the advantage in the series with a 46-27-6 record, but Los Banos has now won five of the last six meetings.
Los Banos jumped out early, with Herrera jumping on a fumble from DP running back Izzac Suarez on the game’s first play from scrimmage.
“It’s my first time playing DP, and I was really enjoying it,” Herrera said. “I wanted to come out here as a sophomore and show them what I got.”
LB mounted a shaky drive with one near interception and two fumbles, both recovered by Tigers. The second fumble came on a Loggan Pimentel quarterback sneak, and lineman Michael Severino fell on the ball in the end zone to give LB the first points of the game.
A 51-yard Noah Croninger field goal in the first quarter accounted for DP’s only points of the night. The Broncos finished with 41 rushing yards as a team, with starting tailback Suarez carrying eight times for negative yardage. Suarez returned to the game after suffering a bad ankle sprain in the team’s opener, and left the field limping several times. Croninger, the quarterback, finished with 44 yards on the ground, but he did provide the team’s only bright spot, completing 12 of 19 passes for 146 yards.
“We didn’t do a very good job up front,” Dos Palos coach Shawn Garrick said. “We definitely thought we’d do a much better job blocking them, and we made some mistakes, but physically, they were taking it to us up front. I don’t know any other way to say it. Physically, we got handled tonight.”
Los Banos opened the floodgates early with a Bailey Rodriguez dive, a 31-yard Walker touchdown, a Bebeto Robles field goal and a Pimentel touchdown pass to tight end Alec Barcellos. Defensive back Gilbert Fuentes’s interception that set up Pimentel’s touchdown broke the Broncos’ back.
Walker kept his approach to the rivalry brief: “Run hard, don’t let them stop me.”
The Tigers defense went back to work after the break, with the Broncos managing just 51 yards of offense in the second half. Robles put two more through the uprights – a 42-yarder in the third and a 45-yarder in the fourth – and the Tigers even got the backups in on the action, with a 28-yard fumble recovery by lineman John Gonzalez capping the scoring in the fourth quarter.
“I think that’s the biggest thing we tried to stress with these guys, the sooner we could get up on them and make them feel they didn’t have a chance, the better off you are,” Caropreso said. “You know, in a rivalry game, you let people stay around, anything can happen.”