Buhach Colony’s first playoff appearance came in 2009 as the No. 16 seed. The Thunder’s reward was a matchup against top-seeded St. Mary’s.
Buhach Colony found out what playoff football is all about in a 49-7 loss.
The Thunder took its lumps that night, but it could see first-hand what a top program looks and plays like. Buhach Colony built off that experience and set the foundation for three straight trips to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinals.
“After we faced St. Mary’s in ’09 in that first playoff game, we always thought we would cross paths with them again,” Buhach Colony coach Kevin Navarra said.
Tonight they will, with the Thunder (3-1) hosting St. Mary’s (3-1) at Falcon Field at 7:30.
Following the loss to St. Mary’s in the playoffs, former Buhach Colony coach Kevin Swartwood started a tradition of having his players pick a word at the beginning of the season that serves as a team mantra throughout the year. The word is written on a sledgehammer that is carried to the field each game.
“That team word in 2010 was ‘foundation’ and that team did set the foundation for where we wanted the program to go,” Navarra said. “These kids know the history and why each word was chosen each year. This year’s word is ‘family.’ Some of our seniors saw some separation on our team last year. This year’s group is extremely close. That word family means something to them.”
The Thunder will face the Rams without one of their family members. Senior Aundre Sherman will serve a one-game suspension after he was ejected for targeting on a hit against a Pacheco receiver late in Buhach Colony’s 24-21 win Sept. 19.
Buhach Colony appealed the one-game suspension, but the Central California Conference principals upheld the ruling.
“We’re definitely going to be missing a piece,” Navarra said. “We’re going to continue to do what we do, but we’re going to have to ask a couple kids to step in to replace Aundre. He’s our kicker, punter, returner, he plays offense and defense. It’s going to take more than one person to replace him.”
The Thunder will miss Sherman against the Rams’ spread offense and their senior receiver Demetrius Ferguson, who has 17 catches for 275 yards and two touchdowns.
Buhach Colony will have to move the ball on the ground and keep the St. Mary’s offense off the field with their powerful running back Justin Stefani, who has racked up 549 yards and five touchdowns.
In other action tonight:
The Bulldogs have rebounded from an 0-2 start with two straight wins, including a 22-19 win over Gustine (3-1) last week.
How tough is Le Grand’s Frankie Contreras? The senior quarterback had his wisdom teeth and seven teeth total pulled on Wednesday and still played, throwing two touchdown passes against the Redskins two days later.
“Everybody was calling me chipmunk because my mouth was swollen,” Contreras said. “There were some plays where they could barely hear me in the huddle, but I tried to speak the best I could. My mouth was fine during the game. It was a little sore the next day.”
Dos Palos was set to have a bye week, one that Broncos coach Shawn Gerrick feels the team needed with some players banged up.
The two schools had dropped the matchup in the spring. However, Kerman had a change in athletic directors and somehow Kerman was still under the impression the two schools were playing, according to Gerrick.
The Central Section gave Kerman permission to find an opponent that had a bye this week and Dos Palos agreed to play an extra game.
“Our program felt obligated to play them,” Gerrick said. “We’re looking at it as a positive. It’s an extra game. It’s an extra home game, which means our seniors get to play in front of their families.”