Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Justin Webb breaks loose for a 25-yard touchdown run to give the Stallions a 19-0 first quarter lead in Friday’s 49-28 victory over the Fresno Warriors.
The Madera South Stalions football team jumped out to a big lead, then managed the clock in the second half, leading to a 49-28 home win against the Fresno Warriors.
Anthony Vaca was one of several players who made big plays for the Stallions, returning an interception for a touchdown in the second quarter to extend his team’s lead to 27 points Friday night.
Vaca’s play was a testament to the team’s focus on accountability, a message which has been relayed to the players since the summer.
“Two plays before, coach told me, ‘If the guard leaves, it’s a trap. Just stay back, he’s gonna throw it straight to you,’” Vaca said. “I did what he told me to do and came up with the interception.”
Vaca’s teammate Alberto Torres also held himself accountable on defense, recovering a fumble late in the first half and setting up a short field goal for the Stallions.
Vaca, who also handles kicking duties for the Stallions, converted the field goal with seconds left at the end of the first half and gave his team a 42-12 lead at the break.
“I just put my hands in there and ripped it out and I felt so much joy and excitement with my teammates,” Torres said. “It’s a whole new era and culture that we’re trying to build here. We’ve been working hard every summer.”
The win came against an 0-5 Fresno team, but that didn’t ruin the excitement for the Stallions.
“That team at Fresno is struggling a bit. I don’t wanna blow it up too much,” Madera South head coach Matt Johnson said. “A win is a win. It doesn’t matter how you get it, how ugly the other team might be at that point. We got a win and that’s good medicine for Madera South.”
The Stallions remember what it’s like to be on the wrong end of a blowout, but the team broke a two-year losing streak earlier this season and now looks to take the next step.
Johnson said the players now understand what the coaches are preaching.
“If you miss a workout, you don’t play. If you have a nonexcused no call, you don’t play,” Johnson said. “The players all embraced it. Our attendance in the summer was great.”
Stallions’ quarterback Isaiah Tyler ran for two touchdowns in the first half — a 10-yard run in the first quarter and a 40-yard dash in the second quarter.
Tayte Grantham was another big performer for the Stallions, scoring on a 55-yard run in the first quarter and a 43-yard run in the third quarter.
Justin Webb carried for a 25-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to give the Stallions a 19-0 lead at the end of the quarter.
The Warriors’ first response came at the start of the second quarter when Nathaniel Najera connected with Cameron Brown for a 50-yard touchdown catch-and-run.
Vaca’s pick-6 gave the Stallions a 33-6 lead with 9:19 left in the first half.
After the Warriors scored their second touchdown, Jessie Ford caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Tyler to extend the lead to 39-12.
Fresno’s Max Villanueva gave the Warriors a rare highlight in the second half, returning a kick for a touchdown.
The Warriors scored the last touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter when Maurice Mathis caught a 12-yard pass, but the Stallions ate up most of the remaining time to end the game.