When you look at the individual statistics compiled by the Buhach Colony High football team this season nothing really pops out at you.
The Thunder have only one running back that’s topped 500 yards this season in Christian Quirarte. That would lead you to believe Buhach Colony airs it out but quarterback Clay Abrams has barely topped 1,000 yards passing this season.
So how exactly did this Thunder team finish the season with a 7-3 record and still average 32.1 points per game?
“It’s the epitome of the team comes first,” said Buhach Colony coach Kevin Navarra. “We relied on two running backs starting off in (Christian) Quirarte and John (Buttrey). Then we had guys like Isaiah Long and Owen Thomas come along and they’ve been big for us.
“Irik Dobbins and Aaron Sevilla shares time at flyback with guys like Youlas Dickson and LJ Wallace. I’ve said it before, you’ve got to take advantage of the opportunities when you get them.”
Buhach Colony’s running back by committee approach has landed the Thunder in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Buhach Colony is the No. 13 seed and will open the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs at No. 4 Del Campo, which comes into the playoffs undefeated at 10-0.
Kickoff is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m.
This group of Buhach Colony players is thrilled to be the team that got the program back in the playoffs.
“We love it,” Buttrey said. “That was our main goal at the beginning of the year, to get in the playoffs. We’ve accomplished that. Now we want to see how far we can take it.”
The Thunder know the Cougars are a big, physical, experienced team that returns 33 seniors from last year’s team that was bounced from the playoffs in the second round by Merced.
Del Campo is led by quarterback Tyler Dimino, who has passed for 2,110 yards and 29 touchdowns and running back Greg Cabral, who has racked up 1,206 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
“We have a lot of respect for Del Campo going 10-0,” Navarra said. “The part that scares me the most about them is their experience. It’s my experience that when players come back from team’s who have had success in the playoffs, they come the next year hungry. Del Campo is in that position.”
While Cabral has averaged nearly 15 carries per game, Buhach Colony has averaged 239 rushing yards per game without anybody averaging more than 10 carries per game.
“Everyone here knows nobody is going to get 20 to 30 carries a game,” Thomas said. “We want to ground and pound, but it’s not going to be one guy.”
“We know we have a lot of weapons on this team and we’re going to use a lot of players,” Quirarte said. “With a lot of guys going both ways it helps a lot. Everyone knows you can’t be selfish on this team. The team comes first. That’s the mentality. You can’t come in here thinking you’re going to be able to do everything by yourself.”
As a result, Quirarte enters the playoffs leading the team in rushing with 547 yards on 89 carries. Buttrey has 399 yards, Long is third with 388.
“We have a variety of running backs,” Long said. “We have speed guys. We have power guys. We’ve got it all.”
Navarra said there was some complaining early on this season, but as the team started winning the groaning went away. Everyone has bought in.
Every year the Thunder players pick a word that symbolizes their team to be written on a sledgehammer. In the past teams have selected words like foundation and family to write on the hammer.
“This group has been unselfish,” Navarra said. “When it came time to choose a team word they chose not to pick one. They were going to focus on the previous words on the hammer. They didn’t feel they deserved a word. They elected not to go with a set of team captains.
“They are a unique group.”
(Pick in parenthesis)
Buhach Colony at Del Campo (Del Campo)
Rio Linda at Los Banos (Los Banos)
Gustine at Modesto Christian (Modesto Christian)
Hilmar at Summerville (Hilmar)
Mariposa at Escalon (Escalon)
Brookside Christian at Stone Ridge Christian (SRC)
Chowchilla at Kingsburg (Kingsburg)