It didn’t take too long for Herb Bocksnick to figure out what he
had exactly. In fact, the Haybalers had just wrapped up a Week 3
victory over Palo Alto when the head coach of the San Benito
freshmen football team began to believe a perfect, undefeated
season was realistic.

It didn’t take too long for Herb Bocksnick to figure out what he had exactly. In fact, the Haybalers had just wrapped up a Week 3 victory over Palo Alto when the head coach of the San Benito freshmen football team began to believe a perfect, undefeated season was realistic.

“We talked about 10-0 the day we met. It’s a goal we set every year,” Bocksnick said. “But I think everyone knew we had something good going on once we beat Palo Alto, because that was a good football team.”

“Even though that was Week 3,” he later added.

Sure, it’s the goal of every prep football team in the area — an undefeated season, although it’s not always a practical one.

But after a 28-12 victory over North Salinas to open the season, followed by a 21-7 win against San Lorenzo Valley, the San Benito frosh delivered a 20-7 triumph against Palo Alto in Week 3, a come-from-behind victory that catapulted the Balers to win-out the remaining seven games on their schedule.

And none of the games were all that close. San Benito went 10-0 this season for the first time since 1998, and outscored its opponents by a 301-78 margin.

The tightest victory (a 19-6 win against Everett Alvarez) was 13; it allowed double-digit point totals just three times all season (North Salinas and Alisal twice); and it defeated Watsonville by a final score of 54-0.

On average, San Benito defeated its 10 opponents by more than 22 points per game.

“I knew we were going to be a good, solid football team,” Bocksnick said. “I knew we’d win a lot of ball games, but I didn’t anticipate going 10-0.”

Before the season even started, though, Bocksnick could see his Balers were going to be a strong, skilled unit with few weaknesses on either side of the ball. But perhaps more important, it was a team that entered the high school already with a built-in chemistry.

After all, it was only three years ago when many of the players on the freshmen team played for Hollister Pop Warner’s junior pee wee Vikings, a team which went 15-0 in 2007 and claimed the national championship in Orlando, Fla.

“That was really nice,” Bocksnick said. “I had a team with a lot of experience. They knew the game pretty well.”

In his 10th season coaching, Bocksnick had never led an undefeated team, while his previous best team record was in 2006, when the Balers enjoyed a 7-2-1 record and split the Tri-County Athletic League title with both Salinas and Palma.

This season, not only did San Benito eclipse that record, but it defeated Palma 29-6, the first win over the Chieftains since 1998.

Implementing a triple-option formation at the beginning of the year, similar to that of their varsity counterparts, the San Benito frosh ran the formation mostly out of the wishbone as the season progressed, and exhibited a smashmouth-style of play that is often synonymous with Baler football, even in their first year.

“We were so successful with it, we went full-time,” Bocksnick said. “Our offensive production became a lot more consistent. We never had any trouble scoring points.”

Quarterback Josh George, who was called up to the varsity level for San Benito’s CCS playoff game against Independence last Friday, led the Balers in the points department. He threw for 441 yards and eight touchdowns and ran for 241 yards and six touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Zach Hicks led San Benito on the ground to the tune of 569 yards and nine touchdowns on 96 carries, while Damien Botelho (57 carries, 441 yards) and Cody McGrew (nine receptions, 255 yards) both scored six touchdowns each, and Cody Freitas (58 carries, 313 yards) provided five touchdowns.

“We were a complete, tackle-to-tackle, go-right-at-you football team,” Bocksnick said about the run-first approach the Balers employed this past season. San Benito sought to control the clock, work its way upfield 5 or 6 yards at a time and play sound defense.

It never really relied much on the pass, either.

That grind-it-out approach helped solidify San Benito’s Week 3 victory over Palo Alto, a game in which the Balers trailed 7-6 in the fourth quarter.

“The fourth quarter is where we realized this group was pretty solid,” said Bocksnick, whose Balers scored two touchdowns in the final stanza en route to the 20-7 victory. “The fact that we wore them down in the fourth quarter was pretty sweet.”

Although Bocksnick realized then what he had, the team’s 10-0 record as freshmen may only be a sign of things to come.

The last team to go undefeated at the freshmen level was in 1998. In 2001, those freshmen were seniors, and the Balers advanced to the CCS championship. It was a similar story about the 1996 freshmen team, too, which went 7-2-1 that year. In 2009, as seniors, they advanced to the CCS championship.

What may become of this year’s freshmen team remains to be seen, of course. But Bocksnick feels early success usually translates down the road.

Said Bocksnick, “It totally sets the tone for the next four years.”

San Benito High Freshmen Football Team


Week 1 — North Salinas, 28-12

Week 2 — San Lorenzo Valley, 21-7

Week 3 — Palo Alto, 20-7

Week 4 — Alisal, 34-16

Week 5 — Salinas, 34-6

Week 6 — Alisal, 28-12

Week 7 — North Salinas, 34-6

Week 8 — Everett Alvarez, 19-6

Week 9 — Watsonville, 54-0

Week 10 — Palma, 29-6

Season Statistics

Passing: Josh George — 16 of 28, 441 yards, 8 touchdowns, 2 interceptions; Tyler Tobia — 3 of 9, 73 yards, 2 touchdowns; David Stanton — 2 of 5, 38 yards, 1 touchdown. Rushing: Zach Hicks — 96 carries, 569 yards, 9 touchdowns; Damien Botelho — 57 carries, 441 yards, 6 touchdowns; Cody Freitas — 58 carries, 313 yards, 5 touchdowns; Josh George — 36 carries, 241 yards, 6 touchdowns; John Canes — 28 carries, 151 yards, 1 touchdown; Chris Cook — 13 carries, 69 yards, 1 touchdown; Stephen Gause — 14 carries, 174 yards, 1 touchdown; Tyler Tobia — 5 carries, 49 yards; Dylan Yamasaki — 9 carries, 15 yards; Kristian Sanchez — 1 carry, 4 yards; Steven Morales — 6 carries, 17 yards; David Stanton — 4 carries, 11 yards; Cody McGrew — 2 carries, 4 yards; R.J. Collins — 1 carry, 3 yards; Tommy Ford — 4 carries, 13 yards; Curtis Ward — 1 carry, 0 yards; Darius Medina — 1 carry, 3 yards; Dominic Padilla — 3 carries, 25 yards; Austin Tobia — 1 carry, 3 yards; Steven Johst — 1 carry, 5 yards. Receiving: Cody McGrew — 9 catches, 255 yards, 6 touchdowns; Cody Freitas — 6 catches, 139 yards, 2 touchdowns; Zach Hicks — 3 catches, 72 yards, 1 touchdown; Dominic Padilla — 1 catch, 29 yards; R.J. Collins — 1 catch, 48 yards, 1 touchdown; Dylan Yamasaki — 1 catch, 9 yards, 1 touchdown.

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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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