ST. HELENA — The celebration began early for the St. Helena High football team on Homecoming and Senior Night.
In the Saints’ first nine plays, they found the end zone five times and jumped out to a 34-point lead against Cloverdale before the Eagles knew what hit them.
By that point, 7:50 remained in the second quarter and the rout was already on.
The Saints went on to win 47-0 on Friday night at Bob Patterson Memorial Field, the last regular-season home game for St. Helena and its second straight North Central League I win.
The early offensive onslaught that the Saints (7-2, 4-2 NCL I) delivered was fueled by rushing touchdowns from their Big Three: senior running back Cody DiTomaso, junior quarterback Daniel Martinez and sophomore running back Ivan Robledo.
DiTomaso had the first strike, a 23-yard touchdown run. Martinez had the second from 45 yards out, evading defenders and breaking tackles with ease. Finally, Robledo shed defenders like nothing en route to a 26-yard score with 1:39 left in the first quarter for a 20-0 lead.
The Saints added four more scores in the second quarter and clamped down defensively, riding a running clock from halftime on to take the game going away. They forced five Cloverdale turnovers — two interceptions, including a 40-yard pick-six by Robledo, and three fumble recoveries — and held the Eagles (2-7, 1-5 NCL I) to just 99 yards of total offense.
On Monday, senior lineman Ryland Campos had said he was still looking for an all-around complete, team victory. His search is now over.
“That was the complete victory I was looking for. It was kinda like the one against Drake, a shutout. We get donuts on Monday,” he said. “I mean they didn’t look like they wanted to play from the very first play. I think they had injuries that made them totally uncompetitive, but we have to prepare next week for a really good Lower Lake team.”
Head coach Brandon Farrell was naturally happy with the performance and spent most of the second half ribbing his starters as they watched the team’s reserves on the field from the sidelines. But was it a complete victory in his eyes?
“It’s hard to tell, because I don’t think it was the type of Cloverdale team that they’ve had in the past,” he said, noting their injuries. “But that’s not for us to worry about. We just played our football game.”
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He did find his team’s execution on both sides of the ball promising as they head into next week’s big matchup with the Trojans (7-2, 5-1 NCL I).
“We executed but it’s going to change next week,” he said. “Athletically, it’s going to change real quick, so we’ve got to be at our best.”
The Saints’ Big Three did their damage early, and then paced the sidelines for the entirety of the second half. The trio scored five of the team’s touchdowns on only seven plays, including Robledo’s pick-six. He carried the ball only three times but had 45 yards and a rushing score. DiTomaso had only two carries for 75 yards, but both went for touchdowns. Martinez followed suit with only one run, his 45-yard score.
Martinez also had found some success in the air, completing 2 of 3 passes for 47 yards and a touchdown that came on a 33-yard connection with Henry Dixon.
Simply put, the Saints were brutally efficient.
“This week we had a great week of practice,” said junior lineman Conlan Harrington. “All of our players and coaches, if you ask them, will probably say this was our best week of practice we’ve had all season, and I think it showed. We didn’t make any errors, really.”
St. Helena also took time before the game on Friday to honor the team’s six seniors: Sergio Hernandez, Jake Mendes, Rowan Knight, Jake Lehman, Campos and DiTomaso. Farrell spoke fondly of his time coaching this group.
“Ryland and Cody, especially, have been just really big parts of this program,” he said. “Coming here as freshmen, they didn’t have a real successful season. They turned it around and they’ve been leaders throughout the whole thing. Sergio and Lehman are other four-year players. Really happy for them.
“And Rowan Knight played the last three years and Jake (Mendes) had a year off but he came back. They’ve all been a big part of the program. Can’t think of another way to play their last Homecoming game out here, but we’ve got to play well next week so that we can get back on this field.”
And just like that, focus is already on the Trojans. The Saints are already a candidate to host a playoff game, but a win over Lower Lake would just about guarantee it.
“That’s a lot of motivation for me,” Campos said. “My last year playing football, I want to play here one more time, at least.”