Over the summer, Sonora coach Bryan Craig thought Rico Sanchez would eventually take the reins at quarterback.
The versatile senior is playing another role instead – super athlete.
With former Mother Lode League MVP and The Bee’s top returning player Kane Rodgers lost for the season with a torn ACL, Sanchez has been asked to fill his void at running back and safety.
Sanchez’s season may gotten off to slow start, but it’s finishing with a bang. He had 98 yards and two touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 48-7 victory over Argonaut on Friday.
With the win, small-school No. 2 Sonora (7-2, 5-0) clinched at least a share of its fourth consecutive Mother Lode League championship. The Wildcats can celebrate an outright title with a win over Bret Harte in next week’s regular-season finale.
“Rico is playing at a higher level right now,” Craig said. “... With the injury to Kane, Rico had to fill that void at running back and safety, and he is performing at a very high level to accomplish that.”
He’s not alone.
Sonora had two players rush for more than 100 yards in its seventh straight win. Junior C.J. Castleman had 169 yards on six carries, while quarterback Jake Gookin scrambled for 119 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries.
Jack Camara also had two touchdowns for the Wildcats, who outscored the Mustangs 29-0 in the second half.
“Our juniors are maturing into a pretty physical and proficient unit,” said Craig, elaborating on Castleman, one of the fastest sprinters in the Stanislaus District. “... C.J. has added perimeter speed to our offense.”