Watch highlights of Hilmar’s 57-14 win over Ripon Christian to win its second straight section title
Isaac Sharp and Justin Rentfro refer to themselves as a two-headed monster.
The Hilmar High backfield duo took turns terrorizing the Ripon Christian defense on Friday night as the No. 2 seeded Yellowjackets (11-2) routed the Knights 57-14 to win their second consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI championship at Joe Debely Stadium at Turlock High.
All Sharp and Rentfro did was combine for seven touchdowns as the Yellowjackets picked up their eight section championship in school history.
“We’re deadly,” Sharp said. “It’s so awesome. From the beginning of the year, we always thought of ourselves as the two-headed monster. It’s finally good for people to start noticing.”
Hilmar will host East Nicolaus (13-0) in the CIF State NorCal Division VI AA Bowl Game on Friday at Atwater HIgh’s Dave Honey Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
The No. 4 seeded Knights (12-1) had Sharp and the Yellowjackets’ offense bottled up in the first quarter, preventing Hilmar from picking up a first down on its first two possessions. The Yellowjackets were lucky to get out of the first quarter with a scoreless tie after putting the ball on the ground three times on a fumble, mishandled punt return and a botched pitch.
“I still felt we saw some things that we could do,” said Hilmar coach Frank Marques, who won his fourth section title as a head coach. “Again it’s that nervous energy that we have early.”
Bryan Millan provided the first spark for the Yellowjackets with a fly sweep that gained 31 yards on the first play of Hilmar’s third possession.
Three plays later, Sharp electrified the crowd with a highlight run. Sharp took the ball on a sweep around the left side. He was bumped into the backfield after the handoff. He then raced around the left side and came to a quick stop to avoid a tackle by Ripon Chrisian’s Max Steele.
As Sharp came to a stop, he put his left hand down on the turn and somehow kept his balance. He got back to his feet and raced up field through a gaping hole and ran 34 yards for a touchdown to give Hilmar a 7-0 lead with 9:31 left in the first half.
“My hand went on the ground so I thought I was going to fall,” Sharp said. “But obviously, I kept my footing and I ran through a couple holes and it was right there.”
Before the Knights could recover, Sharp struck again with a 31-yard touchdown run just 101 seconds later to extend the lead to 14-0 with 7:50 left.
The rout was on.
After being held to negative-7 yards on his first four carries, Sharp broke off runs of 34, 31 and 24 yards on three consecutive carries in the second quarter. He finished with 121 yards on 10 carries.
Rentfro started pounding his way, punishing Knights defenders as he added a 9-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 21-0 with 4:21 left in the first half.
Sharp struck again just before the half, hauling in a 36-yard touchdown pass from Treven Crowley to give the Yellowjackets 28 second-quarter points and a 28-0 lead at the half.
“The three athletes we have, Sharp and Millan give us speed and Rentfro gives us power,” Marques said. “It’s fun calling the offense with so many weapons. Our offensive line has played super as well.”
After ripping his jersey in the first half, Rentfro switched from No. 32 to No. 25 in the second half, which was his older brother Cody’s number. Rentfro added touchdown runs of 22 and 40 yards in the second half and finished with 142 yards on nine carries.
“This means everything,” Rentfro said. “Could you ask for a better high school career? Three years of varsity and two section championships.”
Meanwhile, the Hilmar defense completely shut down the Knights rushing attack, including their dynamic running back Michael Kamps. The senior entered the game with 1,585 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns.
Hilmar held Kamps to just 54 yards rushing on 11 carries.
The Knights were forced to throw and Hilmar safety Cole Bailey came away with two interceptions.
Ripon Christian finally got on the board in the second half when Sean McGovern returned a Crowley fumble 57 yards for a touchdown to cut the Hilmar lead to 34-7 with 8:22 left in the third quarter. McGovern also hauled in a 20 touchdown from Cade Alger late in the third quarter.
The Yellowjackets answered both Knights scores. Rentfro scored on his 40-yard touchdown and Sharp took a handoff on a kickoff return and sprinted 79 yards for a touchdown to give Hilmar a 50-14 lead with 1:54 left in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was played with a running clock.
“This is pretty special,” Marques said. “We were juniors last year and to get back here again and win means a lot. I love these kids, every one of them. They’re just a great group. The hardest part will be the last game — whenever that is — because then they’ll leave. It’s really a special group.”