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With 1:01 left in the third quarter of the 2018 American Championship Bowl game at Righetti High School, Hancock sophomore kicker Hector Gil-Garcia lined up for a 29-yard field goal try.

The kick was good for what turned out to be the biggest Hancock field goal in recent memory. Gil-Garcia's field goal gave Hancock a 38-14 lead, and the Bulldogs held on for a 38-35 win over San Bernardino Valley College and the first bowl game victory for Hancock since 2011.

The win capped a golden year for the Bulldogs in which they went 10-1 — their lone loss was 29-28 to Ventura College — and went 5-0 in the Pacific League for the second straight year. Hancock has not lost a Pacific League game yet.

Hancock's 2019 season will get off to a late start. After an Aug. 29 scrimmage at El Camino, the Bulldogs have a bye during the first week of the regular season. Hancock will open Sept. 14 when it hosts Los Angeles Valley College.

"I actually think (the late start) will help us," defensive back Seth Mathysse, a Paso Robles graduate, said during the LCCN Media Day earlier this month. "It will give us more time to get acclimated," for the 2019 campaign.  

Gil-Garcia graduated. The Bulldogs also lost their two top running backs from what was a typically crunching Hancock ground game in 2018, Ryheem Skinner and Jayden Vargas.

However, T.J. Boone, a starting offensive tackle on the 2018 team, says the Bulldogs have plenty of quality coming back.

For starters, though the team's 2019 roster was not set at press time, "Everyone on the offensive line except our center, R.J. Grice, is back," said Boone, a Clinton, North Carolina, native. 

"That really helps us with what we want to do. The offensive line is meshing really well."

Grice, a Lompoc High School graduate, graduated from Hancock last spring.

Though the Bulldogs lost Skinner and Vargas, Boone said, "We have a lot of great backs coming back, and some real good ones coming in."

Vargas had transferred to Ventura College, joining up with his high school QB, St. Joseph graduate Dino Maldonado.

Eddie Battle came on strong for Hancock as the 2018 season went along, and Boone said Battle will be back this year.

Wide receiver Pierre Moudrou, little-used until then, caught two touchdown passes in the American Championship Bowl game. The Danbury, Connecticut, native was a freshman in 2018. It was not known at press time whether or not Moudrou will be with the Bulldogs in 2019.

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Both of Hancock's first two quarterbacks in 2018, starter Thomas Carr and back-up Steven Schouten, were freshmen last year.

Two cornerstones of an effective 2018 Hancock secondary, Matthyse and Curt McDonald, who hails from Montezuma, Georgia, will be back. They helped give the Bulldogs some of their most consistently effective pass coverage in years.

"We lost some starters in our secondary from last year, Alex Cecchi, Domanic Chapa, Eduan Works," to graduation, McDonald said during Media Day.

"But I'm confident with the guys we have. The returning secondary players are communicating well, and we can pass that on," to Hancock's new players in the secondary.

Matthyse also said he has full confidence that the Hancock secondary will be an effective unit again.

Hancock motored through most of its Pacific League schedule last year. However, the Bulldogs had to rally from an early two-touchdown deficit to beat Pasadena City College in overtime in their league opener.

The Bulldogs did not pull away from Los Angeles Pierce in their penultimate league game until the fourth quarter.

"We're just taking it week to week right now," said Matthyse. "We can't afford to look past anybody if we're going to accomplish what we want to accomplish." 

Photos: Hancock defeats San Bernardino Valley 38-35 in the American Championship Bowl

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