High School Football

Beyer’s turnaround complete: Patriots defeat Johansen, claim WAC championship

Worst to first.

That’s the story of the 2019 Beyer High football team.

The Patriots — who went 0-10 a year ago — completed their remarkable one-year turnaround on Friday night, defeating Johansen 24-14 and claiming the outright Western Athletic Conference championship.

Beyer’s win and Los Banos’ loss to crosstown rival Pacheco left the Patriots as the WAC’s only one-loss team. Beyer (6-4, 6-1 WAC) heads into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs as the league champion.

It’s pretty remarkable considering Beyer walked off the field last year without having won a game.

“Our team motto is ‘all in’,” said first-year head coach Greg Bockman. “And since February these kids have just dedicated ... to lift weights, to condition, to get better, to work on their skill. And this is the direct result of all that hard work.”

Sean Perkins ran for two touchdowns and a two-point conversion and sophomore standout Darius Murphy ran for a 45-yard TD during a short stint at quarterback to highlight Beyer’s night.

Perkins said it’s a much different feeling than after last year’s season finale.

“0-10 to league champs? Oh man it feels great!” Perkins exclaimed after taking a break from his teammates’ celebration. “0-10 to this is a lot of hard work, a lot of maturity ... it’s so much better than last year.”

Johansen’s Cinderella season likely came to an end Friday night. The Vikings, despite a 7-3 overall record (5-2 in the WAC), will probably miss out on a chance at the postseason.

It was a bitter ending for the Vikings, who much like Beyer, went from down and out — barely fielding a team just a few years ago — to competing for the WAC crown. The Vikings haven’t qualified for playoffs since 2008, and they came up one victory short in 2019.

Johansen coach Scott Sacuskie tried to keep the defeat in perspective, considering how far his program has come in just a few years. But it was still hard to accept.

“To be so close,” Sacuskie said. “I mean, you could taste it, you know.”

When Beyer opened a quick 16-0 lead, it looked like the Patriots were going to roll over the Vikings.

Murphy, who has played at wide receiver and running back this season, started at quarterback for Beyer and looked unstoppable.

On the Patriots’ first drive, after having a long touchdown run called back due to a penalty, Murphy scampered 45 yards for a touchdown. The Patriots then went up 16-0 on the first of Perkins’ two TD runs.

But Murphy suffered a leg injury late in the first quarter and returned for only one play after that, and Johansen got back in the game on Jesse Arriola’s 3-yard TD plunge. Beyer led 16-7 at halftime.

The Vikings pulled to within 2, making it 16-14 on an 18-yard TD pass from John Romero to Matthew Castaneda — on fourth and 12 — early in the third quarter.

The Vikings forced Beyer to punt on its next possession and Johansen drove to Beyer’s 31-yard line. The momentum had clearly swung in Johansen’s favor.

But the drive stalled from there and Romero’s fourth-down pass attempt was blocked at the line of scrimmage.

“Going into the fourth quarter I honestly though this game was ours,” Sacuskie said.

Beyer, with a chance to ice the win and claim the WAC title, drove down the field, helped by a few Johansen penalties, and Perkins put the game away with a 3-yard TD run.

Perkins finished with 83 yards on 15 carries. Arriola led Johansen with 81 yards on 18 carries.

Now, the Patriots will turn their focus to the postseason. They will find out their first-round opponent when the Sac-Joaquin Section announces its playoff brackets on Sunday. Bockman said he hopes Murphy will be well enough to play.

For what it’s worth, Perkins seemed ready to play right after Friday’s win.

“I’m hyped,” Perkins said. “I’m ready. Our team’s ready. We have to come back next week focused.”

Final WAC Standings

Los Banos5-2
Johansen 5-2
Mt. House1-6
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Jim Silva has been involved in covering local sports and news for The Modesto Bee since 1996. He graduated with a degree in journalism from San Jose State.
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