Prep Football: Balers prepare for Palma

Balers cornerback Isaac Regalado breaks up a pass in the team's win over Christopher.

No less than five minutes had passed when the talk of the Palma football team entered the conversation. San Benito High was in its postgame huddle, having just put the finishing touches on a 50-7 win over Christopher on Oct. 23.
San Benito has a bye this week before playing Palma at Rabobank Stadium on Nov. 6. Haybalers coach Chris Cameron talked about respecting Palma as the first step in beating the Chieftains, who have been a perennial Central Coast Section power for the last couple of decades.
Cameron knows what he’s talking about, because San Benito (6-2 overall, 3-1 MBL Gabilan) upended Palma last year, 17-13, in what had to be considered an upset since the Chieftains entered the contest with a perfect 5-0 league mark. When it comes to rivalries, it’s tough to beat San Benito-Palma.
“The Palma game means a lot because if we can beat them, it shows we’re ready to go for another (CCS) championship,” said Isaac Regalado, who had two interceptions in the win over Christopher.
Since 2000, Palma (6-1, 3-0) leads the series, 9-5. Even more remarkable: During this span, there were only three games in which the outcome was decided by eight points or more. It’s one of the best rivalries in the section, and this year’s outcome will have major ramifications for the postseason.
If the Balers can knock off Palma, there’s a good chance San Benito, Palma and Salinas will finish in a three-way tie atop the Gabilan Division standings. For San Benito, facing Palma couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Yes, the Balers have beaten their last three struggling opponents—Monterey, Alvarez and Christopher—by a combined margin of 158-19.
However, in the two games leading up to its current win streak—against strong squads in Wilcox (5-2) and Salinas (5-3)—San Benito lost in runaway fashion, 34-14 and 39-16, respectively. So is next week’s game against Palma a statement/barometer game? You better believe it.
In last week’s contest, the Balers outgained the Cougars 385-173, including limiting Christopher to negative-12 yards rushing. Regalado, a junior cornerback, doubled his interception total for the season. The 6-foot-1, 165-pounder seems to come up with big plays when his team needs it most, most notably in last year’s CCS Division I championship game, when he intercepted two passes in a 14-7 win over Salinas.
“I just try to stay in my routine and make plays,” said Regalado, who admitted he struggled earlier in the season. “I feel like I’m getting back to my form from last year, and coach (Mike) Lango (the defensive coordinator) has been a big help to me.”
Regalado, who is also the reigning MBL champion in the 110-meter high hurdles, said the Palma game takes on extra meaning for him since he knows some of the players on the team.
“We’re friends off of the field, but once we’re on it, it’s all competition,” he said. “There would be nothing better than to have bragging rights on them, so hopefully we can come out on top again.”
Regalado was just one of several players who shined for the Balers last week. Hunter Nye and Kyle Cameron ended up with identical stat lines of 96 yards on eight carries and two touchdowns each. R.J. Clark ran for a 61-yard TD and threw for a 16-yard TD to Abel Pasillas.
Defensively, Tyler Biersdorff blocked a punt that Tanner Okerson recovered, setting up the team’s first score of the game. Biersdorff also had a team-high four tackles, and Michael Camacho had two sacks.
Game Box
San Benito 23 20 7 7—50
Christopher 0 0 0 7—7
Scoring summary
S—Cameron 14 run (Miranda kick)
S—safety
S—Nye 5 run (Miranda kick)
S—Clark 61 run (Miranda kick)
S—Pasillas 16 pass from Clark (Miranda kick)
S—Cameron 7 run (pass failed)
S—Gonzalez 10 run (Miranda kick)
C—Reichert 9 pass from Adamkiewicz (Llamas-Jimenez kick)
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING (carries-yards): SAN BENITO—Nye 8-96, Cameron 8-96, Gonzalez 6-26, Green 1-6, Starke 3-22, Mendoza 2-22, Guevara 3-10, Flores 3-13, Godoy 2-11, Clark 1-61, Raquet 3-5. Totals 40-368. CHRISTOPHER—Calimpong 7-10, Guerrero 5-6, Adamkiewicz 3-(-28). Totals 15-(-12). PASSING (comp-att-yds-td-int): SAN BENITO—Clark 2-3-17-1-0, Raquet 0-1-0-0-0. CHRISTOPHER—Adamkiewicz 14-28-185-1-2. RECEIVING (catches-yards): SAN BENITO—Pasillas 1-16, Nye 1-1. CHRISTOPHER—Reichert 7-88, Bowers 5-82, Calimpong 2-15. Totals 14-185. TOTAL OFFENSE (rush-pass-total): SAN BENITO—368-17-385. CHRISTOPHER—(-12)-185-173. INTERCEPTIONS—Regalado 2. TACKLES—Biersdorff 4, Lovato 3. TACKLE ASSISTS—Schwall 4, Biersdorff 4. SACKS—Camacho 2.

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