The Foothill High School rushing attack dominated Liberty Ranch on Friday night in Galt, leading the Mustangs to a 47-30 victory in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoff opener.
Foothill (8-3) has had a streaky season, beginning the year 4-0, losing the next three and then entering the playoffs on a three-game winning streak. The Mustangs put it together against Liberty Ranch (5-6).
“This season has been a little rough,” Foothill coach Mervin Brookins said. “We started out slow, relying on our senior running back and our offensive line. We’ve had our ups and downs (with a) new system, new coaching staff, but the kids are very resilient.”
Dae’vonnie Williams had a game to remember as the Foothill senior rushed 23 times for 290 yards and five touchdowns. Williams got his team going early as he had 161 yards and three scores in the first half to give the Mustangs a 26-13 lead.
“He’s very humble,” Brookins said of Williams. “He doesn’t talk much, and he’s a blue-collar kid. He wants to come in, work and lead by example, along with his offensive line. So we’re gonna rock with them ‘til the wheels fall off and let our athletes be athletes.”
The Hawks attempted to mount a comeback in the third quarter, scoring 10 points to narrow the Mustangs’ lead to three. Foothill quickly erased any hope Liberty Ranch may have had, scoring three consecutive touchdowns to put the game out of reach. The Hawks scored with 11.6 seconds left to make the final score more respectable.
Williams had four long rushes to the end zone, going for 80, 25 and 54 yards before capping his commanding performance with a 43-yard score with 4:36 remaining.
“That’s not even our ceiling,” Williams said. “We still have room to improve. We still have mistakes that we need to improve on. That was just a taste.”
The rushing attack for Foothill this season has been a two-headed monster, with Williams and sophomore quarterback Joel “Jojo” Powell running behind the offensive line. Powell took a backseat to Williams against the Hawks but he was still effective, completing 4 of 8 passes for 38 yards and one touchdown while rushing nine times for 48 yards and a score.
“We had our ups and downs,” Brookins said of his team’s performance. “We rode that emotional roller coaster every now and then. But again, that resiliency that the kids show. We stuck together tonight and we got a road victory.”
The Mustangs now travel to Ripon (9-1), a longtime power in the southern part of the section.
“We’ve got to keep our heads,” Williams said. “You got to continue to work hard. Weight room, classroom, on the field — you have to execute. We have to have a good week of practice.”
Brookins is ready for the challenge.
“We got to put our big boy pants on and improve on what we did tonight,” he said. “(If) we can do that, we might have a chance.”