Tears rolled down the faces of many of the Buhach Colony High football players as they gathered around head coach Kevin Navarra for one last postgame speech.
The Thunder’s season had come to an end just moments ago with a 50-21 loss to undefeated No. 4 seed Del Campo in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs on Thursday night.
Navarra took the time to thank all his players for all the sacrifices they gave, especially the seniors who helped lead Buhach Colony to its first playoff appearnce since 2012.
Navarra asked the seniors to make sure they passed along a message for him to the younger players in the program. He wanted them to share just how hard it was for this group to get to where they were.
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All the early mornings spent in the weight room. All the after school workouts. All the time watching film.
Navarra was already planting seeds for the next group of players.
“This has been a long time coming,” Navarra said. “We had some really good kids. The leadership that they showed helped us get here. I want them to pass it on to share what it took them to here. It’s not easy.”
For the seniors Thursday night was their reward for four years of hard work. They got to experience the postseason.
For the younger players in the program it was an opportunity to experience the playoffs. It was a chance to see what a legitmate section champion contender looks like in Del Campo (11-0).
The Cougars came out and put away the Thunder (7-4) early, sprinting out to a 22-0 lead as they capitalized on BC’s mistakes.
Buhach Colony opened with a strong drive, but Aaron Sevilla fumbled at the Del Campo 21-yard line.
The Cougars then drove 79 yards in eight plays as Levi Markey broke free for a 40-yard touchdown run to give Del Campo a 7-0 lead with 7:26 left in the first quarter.
A botched punt by Buhach Colony set up the Cougars offense at the Thunder 15-yard line and Del Campo quarterback Tyler Dimino found Marshaun Hunter for a 15-yard touchdown pass on the next play.
The Thunder then were stopped on fourth down at their own 39-yard line on their next possession. Del Campo eventually turned that into a 3-yard touchdown run by Roy Johnson and after a two-point conversion the Cougars were ahead 22-0 with 2:49 still left in the first quarter.
“I think we did some uncharacteristic things in the first quarter that put us behind early,” Navarra said. “We put the ball on the ground. You got to give it to Del Campo. They’re a good team.”
Marley finished with 98 rushing yards on seven carries. Greg Cabral added 147 yards on the ground on 10 carries, including a 92-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter that squashed any Buhach Colony notions of a comeback after the Thunder trailed 29-7 at the half.
“We knew coming into this game it was going to be tough,” Buhach Colony senior Aaron Sevilla said. “We knew they had us beat in size. We had to focus more. We had to eliminate all the little mistakes. We had to try to be perfect.”
Christian Quirarte put the Thunder on the board early in the second quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run.
Sevilla and freshman Anthony Berry scored touchdowns in the second half, but the Thunder never really threatened.
Del Campo advances to next week’s quarterfinal matchup against No. 5 seed Sacramento, which demolished No. 12 Wood 55-3.
Buhach Colony players struggled coming to grips that there will be no next game for them.
“It really sucks,” Sevilla said. “These are my brothers. I tried not to think about it at (Wednesday’s) practice that this could be our last practice. I didn’t think this would be our last game.”