Delhi High School quarterback Louie Avalos might have had to ice down his throwing arm Friday night after throwing six passes in the Hawks’ 38-6 win over Big Valley Christian.
Six passes is basically airing it out for Delhi.
“That might be more passes than we’ve thrown all year,” joked Hawks coach Rod McCombs, whose team is 3-0.
McCombs is right. Avalos had thrown only two passes total in Delhi’s first two wins against Florin and Riverbank. Friday, the junior completed 3 of 6 passes for 62 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown to running back Jesse Flores.
The Hawks are getting it done on the ground with their old-fashioned, ground-and-pound, double-wing offense. Through three games, Delhi has rushed for 1,113 yards, including 298 Friday.
Delhi switched back to the double-wing this season after running the Wing-T the last two years.
“I think it’s a work in progress,” McCombs said. “The kids are trying to perfect it. Other teams are starting to load the box against us. Big Valley came out with nine kids in the box on Friday and even put 10 in there sometimes. That’s why we were able to make a couple big passes.”
Avalos and Flores topped 100 rushing yards in the game.
Two other area teams running the double-wing are off to strong starts: Chowchilla (3-1) and Stone Ridge Christian (3-1). Stone Ridge rushed for 600 yards in a 54-0 win over Woodland Christian.
McCombs said the offense fits his team’s personnel.
“In our case, the blocking schemes are simple and you don’t have to be huge, overpowering linemen to be effective,” he said. “That’s the main reason we do it. I think because a lot of teams don’t do it, defenses have to prepare for it.”
The Hawks are 3-0 for the first time since 2013. That year, however, they lost their next five games, all in Southern League play.
“We went flat as soon as league started,” McCombs said. “We’re hoping that doesn’t repeat itself this week.”
Delhi hosts Denair (1-2) on Friday.
Thou shall not score
Stone Ridge Christian has posted back-to-back shutouts, having beaten Delta 60-0 two weeks ago.
The Knights’ defense has turned things around after struggling the first two weeks against El Capitan and Ripon Christian.
“After giving up nearly 70 points in our first two games, we made a collective decision to put a stop to it,” Stone Ridge Christian assistant coach Anthony DeJager said. “We have emphasized assignments and better tackling, but our biggest change has been our mentality. We have realized that we have to take every inch from our opponent. We’re stingy and we’re proud of it.”
Cole Houweling intercepted two passes against Woodland Christian, which had only three first downs. Stone Ridge Christian has forced five turnovers in the last two games.
Defensive end Mark Hooker is leading the area in sacks, and middle linebacker Austin Rees is leading in tackles. DeJager said both leaders help give the Knights’ defense an identity.
“We try to take the air out of the stadium,” DeJager said. “We want to make the other team feel like we’re everywhere, like they don’t even have room to breathe. Our guys are flying to the ball with abandon. There’s a sense of urgency that you can feel. It’s an exciting defense now.”
League play begins
The games become a little more important for teams in the Western Athletic Conference, Southern League and Central California Athletic Alliance with the start of league play this week.
Los Banos and Patterson look to be the favorites in the WAC. Los Banos has rebounded after a season-opening loss to Madera with three straight wins, including a 43-6 victory over Dos Palos in the Westside War on Friday. Quarterback Adam Herrera is looking even better than last year, when he was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year after leading the Tigers to a perfect run through the WAC.
Patterson is 4-0 after defeating Atwater 37-10 on Friday. The Tigers also have beaten Escalon, Ripon and Modesto.
Pacheco, El Capitan and Livingston are 1-3 and still searching for consistency.
The Southern League may be the most competitive in the area. Orestimba, Gustine and Delhi are 3-0 and have been impressive. Ripon Christian, Le Grand and Mariposa also will be battling it out for playoff spots.
Stone Ridge Christian, which is averaging more than 45 points, looks like the early favorite in the CCAA.
Thursday night action
Merced and Buhach Colony play on Thursday night this week on the road. The Bears will head to Buchanan High to face Clovis North (1-2), which is coming off of a 17-10 win over Edison (Fresno). Merced (1-2) is coming off a bye after defeating Edison 18-6 on Sept. 11.
Buhach Colony (2-1) should have some momentum after blowing out Pacheco 60-13 on Friday. The Thunder will play at Central (0-3) in Fresno. The Grizzlies have opened with three tough opponents in Liberty (Bakersfield), Grant (Sacramento) and Bullard (Fresno).
Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m. kickoffs.