Baler running back Cody Hendricks ran for 86 yards and a touchdown Friday night in a 55-0 win over Andrew Hill. Look for more photos in the Free Lance on Tuesday.

While first-week matchups tend to play out with a poker-game
like feel
— game film is nonexistent, statistics are unavailable and even
the win-loss record is blank — San Benito may have a better hand
than many were expecting.

While first-week matchups tend to play out with a poker-game like feel — game film is nonexistent, statistics are unavailable and even the win-loss record is blank — San Benito showed Friday night it may have a better hand than many were expecting.

After graduating 35 players, or 48 percent, from last year’s 10-3 team that was a Division I finalist in the Central Coast Section playoffs, San Benito was left with a group that lacked starting experience, as well as many of the names that grabbed headlines from one year ago.

But after Friday night’s 55-0 waxing of Andrew Hill in San Jose, in a game that featured 27 points by San Benito in the second quarter alone, the latest edition of the Balers began to make a name for themselves.

“We lost a lot of seniors that were big players like Nick Acosta and Trevor Fabing, and on defense Michael Murphy and Taylor Coustette. We lost a lot of guys,” said San Benito senior running back Cody Hendricks, who compiled 86 yards and a touchdown on just eight attempts Friday night.

“We were definitely underestimated with all the players we lost last year,” added Hendricks. “But tonight proved that we’re here and we can play.”

Quarterback Tyler Decker ran for a touchdown and threw for another, senior James Sanchez made his San Benito debut to the tune of 67 yards and a touchdown on just three attempts, and cornerback Matt Vallejo returned an interception 95 yards to paydirt.

“It’s a good start,” San Benito head coach Chris Cameron said. “We got to play a lot of kids tonight, although not as many as we’d like to with the running clock.”

The game, which was lopsided at halftime as San Benito opened up a 34-0 lead, switched to a running clock at one point in the third quarter. It was the biggest win for the Balers since last season’s 56-0 throttling at Lincoln on Sept. 11, and the team’s first shutout since a 44-0 drubbing against Alvarez on Oct. 9.

Despite the running clock and very few offensive plays in the first half — the Balers’ 34-point lead came on just 13 offensive plays — San Benito still managed to compile 220 yards of total offense and score six touchdowns on just 30 plays from scrimmage. Moreover, the Balers’ special teams, and Andrew Hill’s frequent botched punt attempts, supplied San Benito with strong field position all night, allowing the offense to score quickly and at will.

Placekicker Tino Granados, meanwhile, was 7 of 8 on point-after attempts, and had six touchbacks on eight kickoffs.

“We played well tonight,” Cameron said. “We played pretty physical tonight, too. I liked that part.”

While the Balers’ defense held Hill to just 111 yards of total offense — and just 29 yards in the second half — the team’s physical play on the field was evident on special teams, most notably on punt return attempts. In fact, three of the Balers’ first four touchdowns in the game were set up by botched punt attempts.

In the first quarter, after both teams went three-and-out, a bad snap to punter Miguel Ortiz resulted in Baler linebacker Ryan Di Salvo making the tackle 14 yards behind the line of scrimmage, setting up first-and-10 for San Benito at Hill’s 17-yard line.

Two plays later, Sanchez burst up the middle for a two-yard touchdown and an early San Benito lead.

It was a sequence of events that played itself out four times on Friday night.

“I’m able to play this year and I’m gonna do the best I can,” said Sanchez, a senior who sat out last season after he transferred to Hollister from Sumner, Wash. “It’s different here from Washington, but you’ve got to settle in. Follow the rules, follow the coaches, and you’ll be OK.”

San Benito was OK almost as soon as the second quarter started. On Hill’s very next punt attempt, Conner Stevens blocked the kick from the right side and teammate Damon Perez recovered the loose football, giving San Benito the ball at the Falcon 11-yard line.

On the very next play, Hendricks found the end zone from 11 yards out.

The punt-attempt trend took a break on Hill’s next possession, although San Benito still managed to find decent field position — starting at the Falcons’ 35-yard line after they went three-and-out. Less than 90 seconds and four plays later, the Balers found the end zone once again when Decker hit a wide open Jake Hunter on an eight-yard play-action pass.

San Benito added another score less than 60 seconds later when another bad snap off a Hill punt attempt resulted in a loose football. Di Salvo recovered the ball in the end zone to supply the Balers with a 27-0 cushion.

After the game, though, Cameron seemed most pleased with San Benito’s final score before the break — Matt Vallejo’s 95-yard interception return. Ortiz’s intended pass to Richard Meeks on the right side was well defended by San Benito; so well defended that when Vallejo picked it off at the Baler 5-yard line, he had an immediate wall of blockers down the left sideline that allowed the senior cornerback to run 95 yards untouched.

“I just saw about four guys — a couple linebackers and a big, ‘ole lineman in Marcos Silva who laid some guy out for me,” Vallejo said after the game. “That’s what opened up the 50-yard run at the end.”

San Benito’s great field position in the first half took a backseat in the second half, although the Balers still managed to find the end zone, nonetheless. Case in point, following a 52-yard sprint down the left sideline by Sanchez, the Balers eclipsed the 40-point mark when James Flook ran it in from two yards out, ending a four-play, 64-yard drive.

San Benito’s longest drive of the game, though, followed on its ensuing possession when it marched 75 yards on nine plays, culminating with a one-yard touchdown run by the signal-caller Decker.

Backup quarterback Michael Bocksnick found the end zone on a 7-yard keeper play later in the third quarter — his very first varsity play — following another failed punt attempt by Hill.

“I thought our non-starters and rookies did really good,” Vallejo said. “I thought we did pretty great. But we still have to learn up on run force and reading the pass and reading the run.”

Things will likely ramp up next Friday night when the Balers will be back on the road against Oak Grove, which lost its 2010 opener by a 24-0 margin against St. Francis.

Kickoff is 7 p.m.

San Benito defeated Oak Grove 24-6 last season, although the Eagles return many of its star players from a year ago.

“After tonight, we’re gonna have to forget tonight,” Hendricks said Friday. “Oak Grove is looking like the team from two years ago, my sophomore year. The next couple games are some pretty tough opponents.”


San Benito’s win on Friday was its second straight victory to open a season, with both wins coming against Hill … The Balers defeated the Falcons 17-7 during last season’s opener. The early-season loss had little effect on Hill, though, which finished with a 7-2-2 overall record and champions of the Santa Teresa Division … Friday’s game was the first for Hill head coach Jake Redmond, who took over the program after Jeff Borges stepped down last season after nine years.

TEAM 1 2 3 4 F

SANB 7 27 21 0 55

HILL 0 0 0 0 0


First Quarter

RUSH (2:35) — SB, James Sanchez, 2-yard touchdown, PAT (Tino Granados) is good; 7-0, SB.

Second Quarter

RUSH (11:43) — SB, Cody Hendricks, 11-yard touchdown, PAT (Tino Granados) is good; 14-0, SB.

PASS (9:04) — SB, Tyler Decker to Jake Hunter, 8-yard touchdown, PAT (Tino Granados) is good; 21-0, SB.

FUMBLE RECOVERY (8:06) — SB, Ryan Di Salvo, PAT (Tino Granados) is no good; 27-0, SB.

INTERCEPTION RETURN (3:54) — SB, Matt Vallejo, 95-yard touchdown, PAT (Tino Granados) is good; 34-0, SB.

Third Quarter

RUSH (10:36) — SB, James Flook, 2-yard touchdown, PAT (Tino Granados) is good; 41-0, SB.

RUSH (3:59) — SB, Tyler Decker, 1-yard touchdown, PAT (Tino Granados) is good; 48-0, SB.

RUSH (:15) — SB, Michael Bocksnick, 7-yard touchdown, PAT (Tino Granados) is good; 55-0, SB.


Passing: Tyler Decker — 2 of 5, 9 yards, 1 touchdown. Rushing: Tyler Decker — 4 attempts, 12 yards, 1 touchdown; Cody Hendricks — 8 attempts, 86 yards, 1 touchdown; Anthony Cervantes — 3 attempts, 11 yards; James Sanchez — 3 attempts, 67 yards, 1 touchdown; James Flook — 2 attempts, 13 yards, 1 touchdown; Justine Raine — 1 attempt, 8 yards; Michael Bocksnick — 1 attempts, 5 yards, 1 touchdown; Nate Valencia — 1 attempts, 0 yards; Anthony Kaye — 1 attempt, 5 yards. Jacob De Leon — 1 attempt, 4 yards. Receiving: Jake Hunter — 2 receptions, 9 yards, 1 touchdown.


Passing: Miguel Ortiz — 1 of 11, 3 yards, 1 interception; Greg Law — 0 of 1, 0 yards. Rushing: Greg Law — 22 attempts, 63 yards; Miguel Ortiz — 7 attempts, 22 yards; Irie Riveria — 3 attempts, 1 yard; Gilbert Herrara — 2 attempts, 6 yards; Cedric Graves — 9 attempts, 16 yards. Receiving: Richard Meeks — 1 reception, 3 yards.


San Benito — 0

Andrew Hill — 3


San Benito — 3 (Enrique Ramos and Aaron Silva) for -12 yards.

Andrew Hill — 0.


San Benito — 220 yards

Andrew Hill — 111 yards

JV Note:

Cody Cameron rushed for two touchdowns — one from 50 yards and another from 37 yards — and the San Benito junior varsity football team routed host Andrew Hill 47-0 in the season opener Friday night in San Jose.

Cameron’s two scores put the Haybalers ahead early in the game, and the initial lead only got greater as the game wore on.

San Benito (1-0) led 27-0 at halftime.

“Our kids came to play,” San Benito head coach Matt Andrade said simply.

Dylan Ito added a touchdown with an 8-yard sweep to the right side, while quarterback Joey Marfia ran for a 50-yard touchdown on a keeper play.

Miguel Gonzalez also added a 6-yard touchdown on a dive play, Marcus Darnell scored a rushing touchdown from eight yards out, and Marcus Angulo pocketed a 20-yard score on a toss to the right side.

Placekicker Rigo Mariscal, meanwhile, was 5 of 7 on point-after attempts.

“But we still have a lot to work on,” added Andrade, noting the four fumbles the Balers had in the game. “That’s something we really need to work on.”

The competition will expectedly ramp up next Friday when San Benito travels to Oak Grove. Kickoff is 4:30 p.m.

“Oak Grove is gonna be a great team,” Andrade said. “They have a lot of athletes and we need to play a lot better.”

Frosh Note:

The San Benito freshmen football team did not play on Friday night, but will square off against North Salinas in a non-league contest on Saturday in Salinas.

Kickoff is 10 a.m.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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