Hawks dominate Tribe for fifth straight win
Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Dominic Castaneda escapes a tackler for a long gain Friday night. He had many of those in 238 yards rushing to go with five touchdowns.
The Liberty Hawks football team picked the right time to end the season after a 40-0 domination over the Chowchilla Tribe on Senior Night.
The Hawks outgained the Tribe 416-78 yards for their fifth straight victory over Chowchilla on Friday.
The Hawks scored on their five of their first six and six of the first eight possessions to dominate the game. Two of the drives they didn’t score on came at the end of the half and the end of the game.
“It felt great to get this game over with at halftime,” head coach Mike Nolte said. “We challenged our kids after last Friday to get off the mat to fight. It was a heartbreaking game. For them to respond like that shows a lot of character on our team’s part.”
For the second straight game against the Tribue, the Hawks rushed for more than 400 yards. They had 405 yards rushing, 18th most in school history.
“We always go in and hope our running game works,” Nolte said. “Tonight it did and Dom had a big night. I don’t go in and say someone is going to get a bunch of carries. I try to find what works and he was working tonight.”
The Madera Tribune’s spring football Most Valuable Player Dominic Castaneda was a man among boys against the Tribe. He rushed for a career-high 238 yards, sixth most in school history, with five touchdowns which tied for the most in school history.
He averaged almost 12 yards per carry and had two touchdown runs of more than 35 yards.
In addition, backfield-mate Vince Oberti tied a career-high with 112 yards rushing. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry.
“Vince did a good job and stepped in late,” Nolte said. “We lost a kid yesterday, so that was a last minute adjustment that worked in the past.”
The Liberty defense was just as good as the offense. They allowed just 78 yards of total offense from the Tribe, just two yards per play. Chowchilla only had four first downs and was just 2-of-11 on third downs. They had to punt on five straight possessions where they gained just seven yards total.
“(Defensive Coordinator) Tyler (Melvin) did a good job with the defensive scheme. It’s worked in the past against them,” Nolte said. “We were just more physical than they were tonight.”
Diego Rojas led the Hawks with 13 tackles from the defensive line. He had 4.5 tackles for loss. Mitchell Whaley had eight tackles and Oberti added seven.
The Hawks next prepare for a Div. V Central Section playoff battle on Friday night. The Hawks received the No. 8 seed and will host No. 9 Chavez-Delano.
“Any time you can win the last game going into the playoffs and get your momentum back is a good thing for our team,” Nolte said. “We were able tog get a lot of guys in the game and that will make practices better. We will have some of the kids from the JV team to help us out.”
The Hawks got the scoring off started just over two minutes into the game. On the fifth play of the game, Castaneda took a hand off to the right and found running lanes clogged. He reversed his field and found a wide-open left side and ran 38 yards untouched into the end zone for a 7-0 lead with 9:57 left in the game.
Chowchilla went on its longest drive of the game, eight plays, before the Hawks stuffed the Tribe on third and fourth and on with tackles by Tyler Edwards and Whaley.
The Hawks drove 58 yards on 10 plays for their next score. Whaley gained seven for a first down and Oberti gained six for another first down. Whaley added eight more for a first down. Oberti ran three straight times to move the ball to the eight-yard line. Castaneda did another reverse-field run for the touchdown on the next play for a 14-0 lead with 1:47 left in the first.
After the first of six Chowchilla punts on the night, the Hawks, methodically, moved down the field. This time, it took seven plays for 58 yards for a third Castaneda touchdown.
Castaneda started the drive with a 27-yard run. Oberti gained seven for a first down and Castaneda gained 11 to the nine-yard line. Two plays later, Castaneda finished the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run for a 20-0 lead.
The defense stepped up again with a Rojas and Diego Salas tackle for loss to force a punt on fourth-and-17.
Castaneda began the drive with a 42-yard run to the 33-yard line. Oberti went up the middle for 13 yards and a first down.
Whaley gained eight for a first down at the two. Three plays later, Castaneda finished off the drive with a touchdown for a 26-0 lead late in the first half.
Davey Pombo, Rojas and Nulick forced a three-and-out, but the Hawks ran out the first half clock.
Chowchilla went three-and-out to open the second half. Castaneda and Oberti rushed for first downs, but Castaneda finished the drive by outrunning the Chowchilla defense for a 37-yard touchdown and a 33-0 lead.
Rojas and Salas force another punt, but the Hawks went three-and-out for the only time of the game.
Tackles by Oberti, Jared Nolte, Whaley and a pass break-up by Castaneda forced a punt.
The Hawks finish the scoring with a six-play, 47-yard drive. Caleb Sisco gained seven for a first down. Oberti went for 14 to the 15-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Luke McFarland floated a pass to the end zone. Tight end Rojas ran under it for the touchdown and a 40-0 fourth quarter lead.
The Tribe got an initial first down after a 23-yard run. However, Nulick, Salas and Castaneda forced a fourth-and-10 punt.
The Hawks ran out the clock to close out the victory.