Beyer High's Paul Fagbamila stands 5-foot-6 and weighs no more than 145 pounds. At first glance, he could be mistaken for the team trainer.
But on the field, Fagbamila performs like he owns it.
The do-everything senior all but orchestrated the Patriots' impressive 37-13 win over Gregori on Friday night at Don Lanphear Stadium. If there's one player who personifies the surprising Patriots winners of four straight and atop the Modesto Metro Conference it is Fagbamila.
"His heart takes up his whole chest cavity," Beyer coach Bill Flesher raved. "He's a warrior kid."
Fagbamila didn't account for a single Beyer point, but he set up most of them.
His 27-yard option pass to Josh Peterson ignited the Patriots' first TD drive.
His catch of a 33-yard pass, among three Gregori defenders, preceded a second-quarter field goal by Matt Ryan.
His fumble recovery was followed on the next snap by a play-action touchdown pass of 41 yards from sophomore QB Nick Trujillo to the streaking Peterson over the middle.
His habit of attaching himself to the legs of Gregori running backs all night long.
Fagbamila, a wrestler during the winter months, doesn't mind the contact. In fact, Beyer's Swiss army knife craves it.
"I try to have fun," he said. "It's my last year. Go all out."
Fagbamilla and his mates logged all the game-deciding plays. Beyer (6-2, 4-0) dodged an interception on the game's first snap and earned its advantages all night. Though the Patriots returned only four starters, they've vaulted to first place in the MMC going into their closing games against Modesto and Downey.
"We're a bunch of no-names who play tough,," Flesher said. "The kids don't want to hear that this is a rebuilding year. They come out and compete and scrap."
It also helps to brandish a young quarterback in Trujillo, who's 6-1 and growing in confidence. He dodged that early tipped-ball interception, along with three bobbled exchanges from center, and eventually completed 7 of 9 passes for 147 yards and scoring strikes to Peterson and Derek Sosa.
Also helping to control the game was running back Jay Green (20 carries, 68 yards), who slashed through the interior of Gregori's defense for most of his yards and notched two touchdowns on short runs.
The Jaguars (5-4, 2-3) trailed 16-0 late in the half and, until then, had picked up only one first down. They drove to the Beyer 9 only to be denied when Seth Mohr sacked quarterback Tanner Goudeau as the final seconds of the half ticked off.
Gregori answered with a touchdown to start the second half on a 6-yard run by Rudy Garcia (16 carries, 83 yards). But stopping Beyer was a bridge too far.
Sosa shed a tackle near the Beyer bench and turned Trujillo's short pass designed for a first down into a 55-yard trip down the sideline and into the end zone.
Gregori eventually totaled 253 rushing yards but managed only 9 through the air. Beyer, more balanced, outgained its hosts 386-262.
"We have an extra dimension (Trujillo)," Flesher said.
Beyer finished with a blocked punt by Isaiah Stewart and a scoop-and-score 7-yard return by Nico Tamayo.
"This team doesn't seem to get down," said Flesher, who moved an undersized overachiever from safety to outside linebacker just to give him more chances to stall Gregori's offense.
The overachiever? Fagbamila.
'Warrior kid' provides the key plays as Beyer remains perfect in MMC