The Buhach Colony High School football team had no interest in being on the wrong side of history Friday night.
The El Capitan faithful turned out in force and with an abundance of energy for the school’s first varsity football game. But the Gauchos’ home fans didn’t get the opportunity to be much of a factor, as the Thunder took the wind out of them on their second play from scrimmage.
Justin Stefani broke free for a 32-yard touchdown run up the middle and BC never let El Cap off of the mat, scoring on seven of its first eight possessions for a 51-0 victory at Stadium ’76.
“It definitely helps when you can score early,” said Stefani, who finished with a game-high 142 yards on fives carries, two touchdowns and a fumble recovery. “It was definitely kind of a wild start, but we’re a veteran team and we know how to respond to that.
“The first score definitely settled everything down, and after that, we got a rhythm going.”
El Capitan (0-1) opened with some positives, executing an onside kick on the opening kickoff and having Emilio Cuadros recover a fumble on BC’s second possession. The Gauchos could never hold onto that momentum.
Senior transfer Nate Duran connected with Aundre Sherman (three catches for 42 yards) on an 18-yard touchdown pass on the Thunder’s third possession, and the game quickly got out of control.
Stephon Eastman took a punt 45 yards for a score, followed by Brandon Muse scoring on a 16-yard run. Stefani struck again from 65 yards out, and Brandon Sanchez put an exclamation point on the first half with a 35-yard interception return for a score.
“The timing of everything, including the warmup, just seemed to be off tonight, and I think that plus nerves led to a bit of a sloppy start,” BC coach Kevin Navarra said. “The kids played hard and fast. There’s some things we need to get cleaned up, like the penalties and the turnovers, but overall a good first game.”
The Gauchos had chances to answer but were plagued by dropped passes all night. Quarterback Chase Whitaker finished 8 of 27 for 84 yards. EC’s best scoring chance came just before the half, but Whitaker’s 27-yard heave was dropped in the end zone.
“The effort was there. We played hard for four quarters,” El Capitan coach Mike Machado said. “When the kids are lining up for the first time, there’s going to be a lot of firsts. I think once we get a lot of them out of the way, we can settle down a little bit and really focus in on the execution.
“Buhach does what they do very well and has done so for a while. They have an excellent youth program and it goes all the way up to the varsity. That’s where we’re looking to go. Tonight was a first step.”
The Thunder run game racked up just short of 450 rushing yards, with 12 different players getting a carry in the game. Five different players ran for at least 25 yards in the victory.