As the Chowchilla High School offense worked against the scout team Wednesday night at practice, Redskins assistant coach John Henson bellowed: “Be relentless. Celebrate three yards.”
Chowchilla head coach Alex Pittz echoed Henson’s sentiment. “We want to celebrate three yards and a cloud of dust.”
The Redskins hope to grind out a second straight Valley Championship when they travel to No. 1 seed and undefeated Selma (12-0) for the Central Section Division IV championship on Friday.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Don’t expect anything fancy from the third-seeded Redskins (10-1). Expect an old-school, smash-mouth approach as Chowchilla hopes to pound the ball on the ground with its stable of backs to keep moving the chains and keep an explosive Selma offense on the sideline.
“We want to celebrate three yards like it’s a first down,” said Chowchilla running back Ronnie Reyes. “That’s what our coaches have been telling us. Our coaches have told us it will help hype us up and it will get the other team mad. They’re going to be like, ‘Why are they so happy? They got three yards.’ ”
It’ll be the first time Chowchilla has played Selma this season, but the teams have shared five common opponents. Most of those scores are comparable, except the Bears defeated Washington Union 25-3 and Chowchilla lost to WU 23-21 on a night the Redskins turned the ball over five times.
“They are very good,” Pittz said. “They are undefeated for a reason. Their running back is big and physical. He’s very similar to Ronnie Reyes in terms of how he runs. Their quarterback is very athletic. He throws the ball well and they have guys who can catch it. On defense they have guys who can fly around.”
Selma is led by running back Jordan Dominquez, who has rushed for 1,161 yards and 19 touchdowns. Quarterback Junior Ramirez has thrown for 1,531 yards and 14 touchdowns to go a long with 526 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns.
“The biggest thing for us is our (defensive backs) are going to have to step up their game,” said Chowchilla linebacker Damon Perry. “Their receivers are pretty good. We don’t want to get beat deep. We have to be up for the challenge.”
The Redskins counter with their shotgun double-wing attack that features Reyes, who has racked up 888 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. Asa Shields (842 yards and eight touchdowns), Carlos Iniguez (542 yards and seven touchdowns) and Justin Cantrell (460 yards and seven touchdowns) will all take turns pounding the ball at the Bears.
Both teams are averaging around 38 points per game offensively. Selma is No. 1 in the Central Section in points surrendered with 94 – under eight per game. Chowchilla is also near the top, giving up just 12 points per game, or 131 total.
Pittz expects the game. like most, to be won up front in the trenches.
“I think we’re a better defense than any team they’ve played,” Pittz said. “They’ve seen our style of offense two games ago against Wasco. We feel we’re a little better than Wasco.
“We have to match their physicality, if not, be more physical. We’ve been pretty physical against all our opponents. I don’t know how many teams they’ve played that have been as physical as us. I know they’re capable of being physical.”
To have the opportunity to win back-to-back section championships isn’t lost on Pittz. He knows how special it is to still be playing at this time of year.
“It’s definitely something we don’t take for granted,” Pittz said. “It’s been a heck of a couple years, but our job is not done. Our goal was not to make it back to the section title game. Our goal is it win it. We’ve got a lot of work to do.