Chargers’ Revenge Tour Checks off Another Box

By Andrew Bensch
Chargers’ Revenge Tour Checks off Another Box

Run, pass, punt, it’s unclear exactly what David Hernandez can’t do on the football field. The senior quarterback will also play safety in certain defensive packages. Against Los Gatos last week, it was Hernandez’s legs and right arm leading the way to a 40-14 victory. The win marks the second time this year the Chargers have come away victorious against a team who beat them last season. Back on Sept. 15, Wilcox beat San Benito 35-0 after having lost to the Haybalers a year ago. These two victories sandwiched around the 49-11 blowout at Levi’s Stadium have the Chargers riding an extremely impressive three-game winning streak.

“[Los Gatos] is really good, I feared them coming back until the five-minute mark,” said Chargers Head Coach Paul Rosa. “They can score fast. Last year we lost to them 50-something to 39.”

While Hernandez shined with his legs (to the tune of three rushing touchdowns) his throwing arm was arguably more impressive. After Los Gatos cut the Wilcox lead to 26-14 with a late touchdown in the second quarter, the Chargers responded with less than two minutes remaining. With the ball right around midfield, Hernandez dropped back to pass after a play fake. Despite it being just his first throw of the game, Hernandez’s deep ball to the end zone was right on the money to Ryan Cooper Jr. The junior wide receiver caught the ball in stride before turning and falling to the ground on his backside, securing the touchdown catch on his belly.

“We work on it a lot in practice—where you’re not making a lot of throws and then you gotta make a throw,” remarked coach Rosa on the impressive late touchdown. “[Hernandez] struggled in it before, but we’ve put some time into those plays and it paid off for him. He did a good job. Scoring late in the half there was big. [Los Gatos] was getting the ball back after halftime and we had missed an extra point.”

Defensively, the Chargers were lights out, forcing two fumbles and four interceptions. One of those picks, an interception by Nick Malvini, came in the endzone as the Wildcats were knocking on the door. Cooper, Robert Padilla and Kejon Fletcher would also add interceptions. The latter stood out the most. Fletcher made a leaping interception late in the game around midfield. He managed to stay on his feet and return it back to the house for a pick six. While the touchdown would be called back on a penalty, it was nonetheless an amazing play. Fletcher wasn’t done though, cementing the win on the final drive with a jaw-dropping, booming hit on a Los Gatos tailback that had the entire crowd making that shocked “ooh” noise.

“[Fletcher] has stepped up his game,” noted coach Rosa. “Earlier on he wasn’t playing a lot because he really wasn’t focused in our scheme, but lately he has been super focused. When he’s on his game, he is one of our better players. Hopefully, he can continue this level of play.”

Another standout defensively in recent weeks has been defensive end Michael Dinwiddie. With the score 12-7 Wilcox, Dinwiddie came up with a huge strip sack of the Los Gatos quarterback that essentially forced a punting situation, the Chargers’ first defensive stop of the game.

“I visualized it, and saw it in my head before it happened. I was practicing it all week. I just wanted it, wanted it bad,” chimed the senior who also plays tight end on offense. “I went for it and got the strip. I thought he still had the ball though.”

Had Dinwiddie realized the ball was loose, he may have been able to recover the fumble, but even without the recovery, it was still another huge play from the defensive star.

“He was great again today. He goes two ways,” added coach Rosa on Dinwiddie. “He’s one of our key guys that [gets after the quarterback]. We tried to get him a touchdown at the end there. He deserves it, he’s played hard.”

Wilcox will look to extend their winning streak to four and increase their league record to 3-0 when they travel to Milpitas Friday night to take on the Trojans.