Los Banos High earned a 35-7 victory in the 76th Westside War on Friday behind two interceptions from linebacker Lane Mallonee.
“As a kid growing up, I just remember coming to the games, and since I was 7, since I first started playing football, this was the game that I looked forward to,” said Mallonee, who intercepted two tipped Jacob Baker passes. “Los Banos/Dos Palos, you know how big this is if you’re from Los Banos. It’s probably one of the best games I’ll remember.”
Los Banos got big yards on the ground from quarterback Adam Herrera, who carried 13 times for 120 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and tailback Daniel Fernandez, who carried 12 times for 98 hard-earned yards and one late score.
Receiver David Walker added a pair of touchdowns for Los Banos (2-2) on his only two carries of the game.
Los Banos coach Dustin Caropreso is now 3-0 against his longtime rival.
“It’s not the worst-case scenario if you lose this game,” Caropreso said. “But after it’s all said and done, born and raised in Los Banos, playing against them, you always want to (win). You know, I don’t ever want to lose to them.”
Both teams battled evenly for most of the first half, with Herrera’s first touchdown in the second quarter, a 7-yard scamper, answered immediately by Dos Palos on a 30-yard Baker pass to Lee Navarro, who found an open spot and caught the ball at the 5-yard line and bulled his way into the end zone.
Walker’s first score came on fourth-and-goal from the six-yard line on a fly sweep. The junior barreled over a pair of Dos Palos defenders. Dos Palos protested the score, but Walker slid across the top of a diving Bronco to reach the end zone before his knee touched.
“We needed that. We needed to get in the end zone, Caropreso said. “I wasn’t even contemplating kicking it.”
Herrera struck again on the opening drive of the third quarter, escaping pressure in the pocket and weaving about 10 yards through traffic before cutting back to the wide-open middle of the field.
Mallonee ended DP’s next drive with his first interception at about the 50-yard line and ran it back to the 14. Walker’s second TD came a play later with another sweep around the left side.
Mallonee’s second pick came early in the fourth. He returned that one for a touchdown, but it was called back due to a chop block – the second LB score called back after a Walker kickoff return was negated in the third quarter.
Dos Palos (1-3) again relied on running back Raphael Stewart, who finished with 27 carries for 62 yards.