HS football team ready for rugged TVL schedule

Hughson football ready for rugged TVL schedule
Posted on 09/17/2019
Football players running

A mostly successful preseason has positioned the Hughson High football team right where it needs to be entering the gauntlet that is the Trans-Valley League schedule, according to Coach Shaun King.


The Huskies won three of their four games on the field, the lone blemish coming in a 22-21 home loss to Orestimba in Week 2. That was sandwiched between impressive road victories over Stagg (28-14) and Argonaut (39-35) and a home blowout last Friday over Summerville (30-0).


The win over Stagg later was forfeited because Hughson used a player whose eligibility had not been cleared by the Sac-Joaquin Section. Even though the player transferred from a non-football playing school, the required paperwork did not make it to the Section office on time.


“The kids did nothing wrong, yet they’re the ones who get punished,” King said.


More importantly going forward, King said the Huskies came out of the preseason healthy and with gathering confidence on both sides of the ball. The coach is especially pleased with the maturity of some of his juniors who have quickly grown into big roles.


That starts with quarterback Aiden Meyer, who has completed 35 of his 67 throws for 526 yards and seven touchdowns, with just one interception. He also has run for three touchdowns and is directing the Huskies’ spread offense better than any quarterback King has coached.


“Our quarterback is now a veteran,” he said. “He has just stepped up to the plate. He’s really putting the team on his shoulders and turning into a team leader.”


King said one example sticks out from Friday’s game that reveals how far Meyer has come.


“We ran a read, pass, option play that we’ve been working on it two years,” King said. “He has a choice to hand it off, to tuck it and run, or if he sees a bubble with our slot receiver, he can pass it. He read the defense and threw that pass and we scored a touchdown.”


King also said his offensive linemen have come to better understand their zone blocking schemes. That has allowed them “get to the second level” and the defense and make downfield blocks for shifty senior Zander De la Cruz, the team’s leading rusher with 149 yards and four scores.


The run-pass balance was on display against Summerville as the Huskies gained 239 yards through the air and 223 on the ground.


“That’s our goal – to be balanced,” King explained. “We want to run the ball to open up the pass.”


The defense also excelled against Summerville, holding the Bears scoreless and dominating for much of the game. King was especially pleased with junior defensive ends George Crayton and Garret Hicks, who bring different styles to their games.


“George is the speed guy and Garret is the power guy,” King said. “George causes havoc and the quarterback has to step up, and there’s Garret to get him.”


The coach also has been impressed by three junior defensive backs -- J.J. Rodriguez, Alonzo Farias and Ezekial Davis. Davis made his first start Friday and played so well that King and his assistants want to find a way to get him on the field more often as the season goes on.


The competition promises to get much tougher as Hughson opens the TVL season at home this Friday against Livingston.


Including Hughson, the TVL’s top five teams went 18-2 on the field in the first four weeks. Hilmar, Escalon and Ripon all are undefeated and 4-0 and Livingston has lost just once. A year ago, the Huskies were one of four TVL teams to make the playoffs. This season, King thinks there could be as many as five.


“It’s the toughest league in the state,” he said, citing Escalon’s 49-20 victory over much larger Downey of Modesto last week as a perfect example. “Bigger schools don’t want to play any of us just for that reason.”


Two of the TVL titans – defending state Division VI champ Hilmar and Escalon – square off this week in Hilmar. The Huskies will see both those teams in another month. Meanwhile, Friday night brings Livingston to Husky Stadium.


“They’re good. They run a spread offense like us. They’re a lot like us but they’re faster than us,” King said.


Hughson’s defense has had success against spread teams. Not only do they see that offense in practice every day, Stagg and Orestimba also used it this season.


“Our defense excels against spread teams because our linemen are fast,” King said. “Stagg read spread and George was in the quarterback’s face all night. Orestimba did for a while, then came in tight. We held them to 173 yards offense.”


King believes his team is as ready as it can be for the remainder of the TVL schedule, which breaks Hughson’s way this year. After Livingston, the Huskies have back-to-back road games against Riverbank and Modesto Christian, both winless so far.


After that, there are home games against Hilmar and Ripon, a bye and then a Nov. 1 game at Escalon that could have a big impact on playoff seeding and even the league championship.


“I think we’re prepared,” King said. “The first four weeks is pretty much a tryout period. We’re going to do some different things this week. We’ve been holding out.”



JV team: Hughson shut out Summerville 7-0 to remain unbeaten. In four games, the Huskies have yet to give up a point while outscoring the opposition 67-0. 
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