Chester’s Eddie Perez runs full speed ahead for the end zone with Portola’s Tim Benbow close behind during the two teams’ match-up Nov. 8. Chester beat the Tigers 35-26 in a game of alternating touchdowns. Photos by James Wilson
Everyone expected a good game last Friday as Portola ran out onto Chester’s field, and no one was disappointed. Chester lost the championship to Portola last year, but took its revenge Nov. 8 by beating the Tigers 35-26.
The Tigers brought their signature toughness to the game, but in the end, the Volcanoes’ speed and decisive execution won them the game.
The game was pretty even through the first half, with both teams’ defense controlling the field. Each team managed to score twice in the half, however. Chester came out swinging in the second half and scored one more touchdown than Portola to take the win.
“We played well enough to win, but we must improve on special teams if we want to win in the playoffs,” commented Chester’s coach, Terry Hernandez.
Chester struck first blood on its first drive to give the Volcanoes the lead they would retain for the rest of the game. Chester’s quarterback, Hunter Morris, completed the drive with a pass to Eddie Perez, who made his way into Portola’s end zone.
David Estacio kicked the extra point to put Chester up 7-0. Estacio made all five extra point attempts during the game. Estacio, normally a running back, was recovering from an injury earlier in the season and was limited to kicking the extra points.
Within a few minutes, the Tigers received the ball and made their way into the Volcanoes’ territory. Portola’s quarterback, Mike Martinez, ran the ball into the end zone from the 4-yard line to trail Chester 7-6.
Just two minutes later, Wesaly Hedrick caught a beautiful pass and ran the ball the rest of the way for a 65-yard touchdown.
Portola once again came right back, though, and finished its drive with a 14-yard rush by Tim Benbow for the last touchdown of the half.
Right before the half, Portola’s Trevor Ohle hit Chester’s Chris Bereznak inches above the ankle and broke Bereznak’s leg. The injury was a clean break that snapped both Bereznak’s tibia and fibula and took him out of the game.
The third quarter was the highest scoring quarter of the game with five touchdowns. Each one happened back to back, which put Chester in the position for a win.
“We were able to control the ball on offense and play good defense in the second half to secure the win. Portola is a tough team,” added Hernandez.
Chester got the ball rolling once again when Jeremiah White finished the Volcanoes’ drive with a 4-yard rush.
Benbow responded with a kickoff return all the way into the end zone for close to 70 yards. Benbow dodged through hordes of Chester’s players.
Morris scored Chester’s last two touchdowns: one off a 5-yard keeper and one off a 17-yard run. Between the two Volcano touchdowns, Portola scored once more.
Martinez caught the kickoff and started running. It looked like Portola would have a repeat of Benbow’s kickoff return, but Martinez was tackled after gaining 60 yards. The Tigers drove the ball the rest of the way up the field and Martinez ran it in from the 5-yard line.
“My kids played their butts off and I couldn’t be prouder,” commented Portola’s coach, Steve Heskett. “The new kids really stepped up.”
Both teams will advance to the playoffs, which start Friday. Chester was seeded No. 4 in Division IV and will host Etna at 6 p.m. Portola was seeded sixth and will travel to Fall River to play at 7 p.m.