HILMAR — Devon Mederios may be small in stature but he has a powerful right leg.
Hilmar’s 5-foot-7, 161-pound kicker showed off his leg on Friday night, booting a 56-yard field goal at the end of the first half to give the Yellowjackets a lift heading into intermission.
Mederios accounted for all six of Hilmar’s first-half points on two field goals as he kept his team in the game with Center taking an 8-6 lead into the half.
“That gave us a lot of momentum going into the half,” said Yellowjackets head coach Frank Marques. “I’ve been singing his praises all year. We have total faith in him. He’s a special kid and we’re lucky to have him on our team.”
Marques hinted earlier in the week he thought Mederios could be a key advantage for the Yellowjackets.
He wasn’t lying.
Center missed two field goals and an extra point.
Meanwhile, Mederios connected on a 37-yarder to cap Hilmar’s first drive to give them a 3-0 lead with 6 minutes,41 seconds left in the first quarter.
Then with the Cougars (9-4) leading 8-3 late in the first half, Marques called on Mederios for what seemed like an impossible 56-yard attempt with 1 second left in the second quarter.
“He makes them all the time in practice,” Marques said. “I asked him if he has confidence he can do this. He said, ‘Coach, I got this.’ That’s been our motto all year – I got this.”
Mederios put everything he’s got into the kick and just watched as it sailed through the night. The ball cleared with about 2 yards to spare.
“It felt good when it hit my foot,” Mederios said. “It just kept going and going. As soon as it went through I got tackled by coach (Adam) Komos.”
The 56-yard field goal broke the school record of 53 yards set by Daniel Mouro in 2009.
“It’s amazing,” Mederios said. “Everything went perfect. I couldn’t ask for anything better. The whole night was amazing.”
In Mederios the Yellowjackets have a weapon. He set another school record on Friday night with his 12th field goal made this season.
If you look at the last two playoff games for Hilmar, it’s a big-time advantage to have a reliable kicker in these close games.
Marques brought on Mederios for a 52-yard attempt right before half against Escalon last week. The kick fell short, but it shows the confidence Marques has in his senior.
Marques didn’t hesitate to try it again on Friday night.
“I’m so thankful coach Marques has the confidence in me to give me a shot in those situations,” Mederios said.
Mederios’ big kick was a huge shot in the arm to a Hilmar team that was struggling to do much of anything offensively in the first half against Center.
All of a sudden, Mederios boots a long field goal and the Yellowjackets exploded from their sideline and the Hilmar crowd went crazy.
“I was delirious in the locker room,” Mederios said. “I didn’t know what was going on. I was trying to make sure that it really happened.”
Marques made an interesting decision when he didn’t call on his kicker near the end of the game. With Hilmar leading 19-15 and just over 2 minutes left, Marques opted to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line instead of a chip shot field goal to take a seven-point lead.
Marques’ decision had more to do with Hilmar’s defense than any lack of confidence in Mederios.
“The way our defense was playing I felt we could go for it,” Marques said. “We didn’t want to kick off and give (Tyrel Anderson) a chance to return another kick. We saw what he did against Placer and the 99-yarder against us earlier.
“I knew if we didn’t get it they’d have to go 99 yards against our defense. I’ll take that anytime.”
Sun-Star staff writer Shawn Jansen can be reached at (209) 385-2462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.