For the first time since Jubenal Rodriguez took over as the Sobrato High football coach, the Bulldogs have strung together back-to-back victories.
As such, one can’t blame the Bulldogs for being on a high after they came away with an impressive 22-14 win over Branham on Sept. 24 in a Blossom Valley League Santa Teresa Division opener. The victory was notable in that norcalpreps.com and maxpreps.com had Branham favored to win.
“Norcalpreps had predicted us to lose by 30 points,” Rodriguez said. “But our kids are resilient and our special teams and defense played lights-out.”
The Bulldogs (2-2, 1-0) beat Rancho San Juan—a first-year program out of Salinas—on Sept. 16 for their first win of the season.
“That was a good win, but Branham was a bigger name team,” quarterback Seth Hernstedt said. “So this win really gives us a lot of confidence going forward for the rest of the season.”
Hernstedt had the seminal game of his Sobrato football career, rushing for 107 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries while also playing cornerback. Rodriguez said Hernstedt did a great job of protecting the ball, making sound decisions and producing big plays when the team needed it the most.
“This was Seth Hernstedt’s breakout game,” Rodriguez said. “He threw the ball well, protected the football and his scrambling ability showed up big-time for us.”
Hernstedt’s second TD run, a 13-yarder, actually came off a broken play. Before the snap, Hernstedt checked off to a different call, but one of his receivers didn’t get the correct play. The miscommunication resulted in Hernstedt scrambling to the end zone for a score.
“I had to take off and it ended up in our favor,” he said. “It was a great win for the team, our offensive front did very well and it was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had because we were underdogs. Everyone thought we were going to lose, so to come out on top is great.”
Trey Bringuel rushed for 62 yards on eight carries and returned an interception 40 yards, and Nathan Ortiz had a rushing TD. Hernstedt and Rodriguez said the team had an extra bit of motivation after learning they were Branham’s Homecoming Game opponent.
“Yeah, when someone schedules you for Homecoming, it’s a little disrespectful,” Hernstedt said. “Sometimes you have to prove they shouldn’t have done that, and that’s what we did.”
Said Rodriguez: “Our kids didn’t like that so I definitely think it raised their level of play. On paper, we were not supposed to beat that team, but the kids wanted it more.”
Rodriguez said the key has been the players figuring out and developing into their roles, and the linemen controlling the action up front.
“If I gave a game ball, it would probably be to our offensive and defensive line,” he said.
Mark Collins, Colin Bringuel and Anthony Andersn all had standout performances playing both ways. Collins plays defensive end and offensive guard, Anderson is a offensive and defensive tackle, and Bringuel is a center and defensive end.
Anderson had multiple tackles for losses. Rodriguez said the team hadn’t shown the capability to play consistently for four quarters. Against Branham, it did just that.
“That’s why this was one of the funnest games I’ve been a part of in a very long time,” he said. “Our goal was to play four quarters strong and that’s what we did.”