It was a happy homecoming for the Colusa RedHawks as they ended their two game slide with a resounding 48-7 Sacramento Valley League win over the visiting Willows Honkers and gave the hometown crowd much to celebrate.
Senior Victor Hernandez started the game off with a bang returning the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown and in the process setting the tone for the RedHawks who would score on five of their six first-half possessions to put the game out of reach by halftime.
“We practiced the kickoff returns all week, so I was looking for it,” said Hernandez. “I saw the first guy and knew he wasn’t going to get me and just went from there.”
Hernandez has quietly had a very good season for the RedHawks in his first year of varsity football, where he has been a huge factor in all three phases of the game and leads the team in all-purpose yards.
The RedHawks were definitely on a mission last Friday night, making up for missed opportunities in their last two games and not letting up at all in the first half.
After holding the Honkers to a three and out in their first possession, Colusa needed just four plays to add to their lead as senior running back Manny Morales found the end zone from 23 yards out.
Then after Riley Stice tacked on the two-point conversion, the score was 14-0 with 8:17 left in the first quarter.
Yet the RedHawks would keep the up the pressure when after lineman Xavier Lopez, another RedHawk senior, intercepted a pass and returned it 10 yards to the Honker 10-yard line, Stice scored on a keeper.
At this point, the Honkers would respond for what would be their only points of the night, as quarterback Odell Calzada hit running back Angel Velazquez who did the rest, taking it 75 yards to the end zone.
But the RedHawks had an answer, putting together a 74-yard drive of their own that took nine minutes off the clock and was capped by a Morales nine yard run which extended the lead to 27-7.
On night, Morales carried 15 times for 113 yards and made a spectacular diving catch for an additional 34 yards.
Leaving nothing to chance, the RedHawks kept their foot on the throttle as Stice then connected with Mason Saso for a 30-yard touchdown, before Anthony Berry found pay dirt after bursting 24 yards up the middle to give Colusa a 42-7 advantage at intermission.
Stice had another efficient night from the quarterback spot completing seven of eight passes for 92 yards, while also recovering a fumble on defense.
In the second half, with five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Allan Vega put the finishing touches on the victory with a five yard run to the end zone.
With the game now sufficiently in hand, the entire Colusa team got a chance to get on the field which pleased coach Matt Jessee who saw his team rebound nicely from two tough losses.
“It was a good way to bounce back. It was also a chance for our unsung guys who do a lot of the grunt work in practice to get some playing time and for our young guys to get some valuable experience for down the road. It was a good win all the way around,” Jessee said.
Defensively, Colusa stymied the Honker offense getting solid efforts from Xavier Lopez who recorded an interception and a sack, as well as from Christian Lopez and Miguel Torres who each made four tackles.
With their record now back to .500, the RedHawks (3-3, 1-1) must continue to play consistently on both sides of the ball when they hit the road next week to square off against Durham, a team which has been their nemesis over the years.