LIVINGSTON -- During Hilmar High's week of preparation for Friday night's game at Livingston, Yellowjackets coach Frank Marques consciously avoided uttering what he called the "R word."
To do so, he surmised, would take his team's collective mind off the task at hand -- beating the tough Wolves -- and move it a week forward to next Friday's showdown at Central Catholic.
Hilmar was successful on all fronts. It avoided the look-ahead, rolling to a 31-point lead in the third quarter before settling for a 31-14 victory over Livingston, and it came out of the game healthy and ready to battle the team it defeated in last year's Sac-Joaquin Section final.
"The Central hype started last week, and we were trying to keep that away," Marques said. "We never said the 'R' word, Raider, and we never talked about Central Catholic.
"That's a great program and I know they're going to have revenge on their mind. It was hard for us to keep the "R" word away, and it was important because Livingston was too good a team to overlook."
The Wolves were the surprise of the season's first half, going 4-1 in their non-league schedule. With that kind of a early roll, Hilmar (6-0) knew it had to jump out early in the Western Athletic Conference opener.
The Yellowjackets had the right weapon to do just that in junior running back/strong safety Isaac Diaz.
Diaz, half of the Isaac/Carlos two-headed brothers attack, caught a 75-yard touchdown pass from Quinton McCown on Hilmar's second series to start the scoring.
Then, midway through the second quarter he allowed Hilmar to pull away when he stepped in front of a Brian Alvarez pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown and a 17-0 lead.
"We knew there was a lot of hype with this team, and we knew we had to prepare well for them and not let up once we got in the game," Isaac Diaz said. "We couldn't let them think that they were going to stick around and win the game."
Carlos Diaz got into the end zone from 3 yards at the end of the half for a 24-0 lead, then McCown hit Michael Lebass from 36 yards out with 4:39 remaining in the third quarter to push the lead to 31-0. It was the last pass Hilmar threw.
Livingston, which continued to play aggressively, got a third-quarter score from Charles Brown on an 18-yard run, and Chris Modi added a 15-yard run with 5:08 left to make the score closer.
Brown finished with 58 yards on 11 carries, and Alvarez scrambled for 99 yards on 15 carries for the Wolves.
"Alvarez is a junior and he's growing up," said Livingston coach Chris Lacey. "Hilmar did a great job bottling up Charles Brown. We had a lot of wrinkles put in, but Frank's a veteran coach and he's seen everything."
All of that coaching experience will come in handy this week as Hilmar gets ready to face the "R word."
"It is what it is," said Isaac Diaz, laughing at his own use of the sports cliche of the day. "We're looking to come out strong and give Central everything we have, to come out fighting."