When Riverbank High football coach James Oliver visits Wildcat stadium on the Waterford High School campus, he may as well be greeted with milk and cookies.
On Friday — and for the second time in back-to-back appearances — Oliver’s Bruins overcame a steady deficit to dramatically overcome the host Wildcats in the prep football season opener.
This year, the Bruins rallied to escape a 9-0 deficit and 15-8 third-quarter disadvantage with 19 straight points to close the contest.
Senior Dominick Jack, a transfer from Turlock, erupted for thee scores. He dashed 88 yards on Turlock’s post field-goal kickoff in the second quarter, hauled in an 18-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Freddie Capas in the third quarter, and gave the Bruins a 12-point lead they didn’t relinquish with his 49-yard scamper in the fourth.
Jack ended with 101 rushing yards on 11 dishes, managed 53 yards on four grabs and marched 145 yards on special teams. He was three feet from the 300 all-purpose yard mark.
“We wanted to put this one away,” Oliver said, referring to Riverbank’s legendary 20-19 overtime win at Waterford in 2011. “We started rough. They kind of jumped on us.”
The Wildcats were (6-1 Southern League, 9-3 overall) SL champs a year ago, having avenged their overtime defeat with a 33-0 win over Riverbank a year prior. They couldn’t escape a second straight loss at home, despite recovering three Bruin fumbles. Riverbank sacked the quarterback four times and were led by the likes of Jack (12 tackles), Bobby Campbell (eight) and Fabian Arana (seven).
“The hard work we put in over the summer really paid off,” Oliver said. “It came down to conditioning and we were a lot better conditioned than they were.”
The Bruins tallied 396 total yards of offense. Quarterback Capas was 8 for 14 for 100 yards and ran six times for 26 yards and a touchdown. Austin Wey (7 carries, 46 yards) and Orlando Gutierrez (6-23, two point conversion) also ran well.
“Waterford was big and physical and they get after it,” Oliver said. “They had a couple of big plays, but we controlled the front seven. Our line was awesome. Fabian was all over the field.”
The Bruins will play at Denair on Friday, Sept. 6, to continue the prep football preseason. The Coyotes were felled 45-0 by Riverbank a year ago, but return a host of starters and have the benefit of a blind match-up for Riverbank. The Bruins have no scrimmage or game tape for Denair (the Coyotes didn’t play a week 0 game), but were likely scouted by Denair on Friday.
“Somebody said they run the double-wing option, but I don’t know what to expect,” Oliver said.