Wideout Andre Cornell gets past a diving defender during the first quarter of Friday's blowout win over Lincoln.

Chargers will showcase power running game, led by back Anthony

Following his team’s 56-0 romp on the Lincoln Lions last Friday night in San Jose, San Benito head football coach Chris Cameron was already moving on to the next opponent.

“‘Hey,'” Cameron told his players after the game, “‘it’s a completely different animal next week.'”

Indeed. The Balers will go from playing a youthful and inexperienced Lions team to an explosive and seasoned Wilcox Chargers squad that has posted 79 points through two games this season, and is ranked No. 9 in the Central Coast Section, according to MaxPreps.com.

“I tell you what, we haven’t faced a team like this,” Cameron said. “We’re gonna find out what we’re made of.

“They’re physically formidable, and way better than the two teams we’ve played so far – way better.”

Big up front – 6-foot-1, 320-pound Finau Likio will be the featured lineman – the Chargers are somewhat similar to the Balers on both sides of the ball, and even run a triple option offense that is anchored around running back Anthony Herrera.

Last season, Herrera rushed for 2,053 yards on just 179 carries – an 11.47 average. Through two games this season, the senior back has already accumulated 406 yards on the ground, including 338 yards last week in a 34-25 victory over Terra Nova.

“They’re a running football team, a powerful running football team,” San Benito defensive coordinator Tod Thatcher said. “They’ve got the line and the horses to do it up front.”

The Chargers have favored the run more than 80 percent of the time this season. In last year’s game between San Benito and Wilcox, which ended in a 15-13 Haybaler victory, the Chargers ran the ball 30 times but were held to just 60 yards. Even Herrera was limited to just 35 yards total.

“We know it’s coming,” Thatcher said of Wilcox’s running attack, “but we’ve still got to stop it.”

The Balers, though, are just as strong this year against the run. Whether that changes Wilcox’s game plan remains to be seen (the Chargers compiled 218 yards in the air against the Balers last season), as San Benito’s reputation for having a stout rush defense often precedes them.

In its two games against Hill and Lincoln this season, San Benito has allowed 152 yards on the ground on 70 attempts – a 2.2 yards-per-carry average.

“But they are very much run-first – run until you stop us,” Cameron said of Wilcox.

While Herrera is Wilcox’s go-to back, Michael Roman (20 carries, 164 yards) and Anthony Pohahau (10 carries, 49 yards) could also see some action.

Pohahau is also considered the Chargers’ best linebacker. A 5-foot-10, 240-pound senior, Pohahau led the team last season with 116 tackles.

Quarterback Kyle Johnson (12 of 21 for 214 yards), meanwhile, can also run the football (14 carries, 60 yards), but is less of a threat on the ground than last year’s signal-caller Cory Murphy, who is now at San Jose State.

“It makes it easier, but they’re so good up front,” Thatcher said. “They’re gonna run first, run second.”

On offense, Cameron said the team’s game plan could change depending on what Wilcox is showing defensively, but will look to force the Chargers into defending all three facets of the triple option, which has worked very well for the Balers this season.

“Can we match up with their might?” Cameron said. “We’re gonna find out what our boys are made of this week.”

Kick-off is 7:30 p.m. at Wilcox High School in Santa Clara.

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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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