TRACY – Sometimes a football game is more than just a football game.
Such was the case Saturday in visiting Millennium’s 48-8 thrashing of Delta Charter in Central California Athletic Alliance action. It was significant in that it was the first game ever on the Dragons’ home field. It was significant as Delta Charter scored its second touchdown in its two-year history.
But everything paled in comparison to the retiring school-wide of any No. 1 jersey, the number worn by the heart and soul of the Dragons program, Elias Gamez. Two years ago at the age of 14, Gamez was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkins Lymphoma. Since then, it has been a roller-coaster ride of more downs than ups, and there are no longer any curative options for Gamez. But he is still a driving force for the Delta Charter program.
“Elias is the strongest kid pound for pound I have ever met,” Dragons coach Jeff Tilton said. “I don’t know how he does it but he keeps fighting. We thought he was gone last night and he is here today.
“The strongest individual I have ever met is his mother because she never gives up. He brings a lot of spirit to the team. Whenever times are getting tough I just think about how Elias has it a lot worse than we do.”
Delta Charter (0-2 CCAA, 0-6 overall) fell behind 20-0 in the second quarter when the Dragons employed a little razzle dazzle to get on the board. Delta Charger running back Jesse Serpa threw a 60-yard halfback pass to Kea’Sean Johnson late in the first half, getting the ball deep into Falcons territory.
Three plays later Josh Marseline bulled into the end zone from 4 yards out for the second touchdown in program history and the first ever on the Dragons’ home field. Jathen Cain’s conversion run drew the Delta Charter within 20-8.
“It feels pretty good,” Marseline said of scoring the first-ever Dragons touchdown on his team’s home field. “I couldn’t be more excited.
“It was a great drive by the whole team. We came together and all the hard work we have been doing at practice showed.”
Robert Cancilla had 53 yards passing for Delta Charter, completing four of seven passes.
“We have nothing to be ashamed of,” Tilton said. “Our team has grown so much from a year ago. Every game last year the opening kickoff was returned against us for a touchdown and we didn’t stand a chance right out of the gate. We didn’t have the level of intensity we have now.
“Today we got down 20-0 but we didn’t quit and we came back and scored. It’s only the second touchdown we have ever had in our program history, and we got the first one last week. Millennium is a good team and we have a ways to go. I keep saying we are a year, maybe two out.”
The Falcons (1-1, 2-4) were led by Isaiah Woods who racked up 232 yards on 18 carries with scoring runs of 12, 15 and 15 yards.
“They are getting there,” Falcons coach LaVale Woods said of the Dragons. “They are just a few players away. We have been watching film of them from when we scrimmaged them at the beginning of the season and throughout the year as they were playing our opponents, and they are improving. It’s just experience from now on.
“It’s growing pains that every program goes through – and continues to go through – especially with smaller schools. They are definitely headed in the right direction and they should be proud and hold their heads up high.”