One reason the Tigers shifted to the 4-3 defense this season was to protect Yamamoto from being blocked by offensive linemen and take advantage of his instincts. The system certainly worked Friday, as Yamamoto was in on 22 tackles -- including three for losses -- during a 28-13 victory over rival Escalon.
He also played a key role on offense, turning a short pass into a 73-yard touchdown in the second quarter, giving Patterson a 14-7 lead it would never relinquish.
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"It seemed as if it would be a move-the-chains play, but Keith took it to another level," coach Rob Cozart said. "His ability to get the extra yard or break tackles came into play. His speed showed as he broke away. I was not surprised at all. I've watched him play since he was in eighth grade. He's a natural football player."
Yamamoto caught a second pass for 24 yards and had four carries for 21 yards in the victory, which bumped the Tigers into the No. 1 spot in The Bee's Stanislaus District small-school football rankings.