St. Joseph won its sixth consecutive game with a first-round playoff rout of Fresno Sunnyside Friday night.
The Knights led from the outset and cruised to a 27-6 win over the Wildcats, ending that team's five-game winning streak in the process.
St. Joseph (8-3) advances to play at Visalia Redwood (10-1) in the quarterfinals of the CIF Central Section Division 2 playoffs. Redwood, the No. 3 seed in the division, routed Atascadero, the 14th seed, 42-6 Friday in its first-round game. St. Joseph is the sixth seed.
The last time St. Joseph lost was to Lompoc in a 28-14 defeat on Sept. 27.
St. Joseph coach Pepe Villasenor, in his second season with the Knights, had two league championships under his belt but Friday's win was his first postseason victory as head coach.
"It has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with the young men and the community that supports us," Villasenor said. "It's exciting. The young men have been preparing very hard this week and this was a very good opponent that went 5-0 in league. We had our hands full, but we came up victorious. All glory goes to god."
St. Joseph's win was a team effort all-around, something of a trend for these Knights.
The Knights then scored the final 15 points of the game.
On the first play of the second quarter, Tyler Williams, a St. Joseph junior, pounced on a ball that squirted into the end zone on a high snap as Sunnyside was punting for a St. Joseph touchdown. Burress converted the 2-point try on a run to give the Knights a 20-6 lead.
Then the Knights' Darien Langley ripped off a 68-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to put the Knights ahead 27-6. Langley's touchdown run came after he had a drop on the previous possession.
"He's resilient and the truth is that we believe in him," Villasenor said of Langley, one of the most explosive playmakers in the area. "That's what I think high school sports are about, believing in the young men and allowing them to believe in themselves. He easily could've gone in the tank but he didn't. He came back in and took one to the house that turned the tide and closed the door."
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The St. Joseph defense was stellar again. Williams intercepted a pass for the second week in a row and scored the special teams touchdown. Jacob Medrano had two sacks on the first two possessions. Devin Guggia, a senior safety, had an interception. Senior linebacker Josiah Acosta made a number of big tackles and appeared to intercept another pass but that play was overturned.
"The defense came out with high energy and we knew we had to fire this team up," Medrano said. "They started off with the ball first and I felt like we had to go out there and set the tone for the team."
Medrano was happy to win a playoff game after last year's first-round exit when the Knights were in the CIF Central Section's Division 1. Fresno Bullard knocked the Knights out of the postseason in 2018. Now St. Joseph has a chance to knock off a higher seed in this year's quarterfinals with Friday's game against Redwood.
"It feels like we avenged our brothers from last year. We had to play for each other to continue on in these playoffs," Medrano said.
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