November 11, 2011
Del Campo ground game mows down Downey in playoff opener

Here is a recap of today's Del Campo vs. Downey football game by colleague Richard T. Estrada of the Modesto Bee:

James Milan and Anthony Rodigo are sledgehammers in Del Campo's grinding offense, and they spent a rainy afternoon today banging away as Downey's defense crumbled.

"We're stronger and we will keep pounding and pounding at you, until you break," said Milan, whose 183-yard, one touchdown effort led a ground game that piled up 441 yards. "You win games like this in the weight room."

Del Campo used its superior strength to control the tempo on the way to its 34-12 rout of Downey in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II football opener. Del Campo will play the winner of tonight's game between top-seeded Buhach Colony (10-0) and No. 16 Lodi (5-5) next Friday.

Del Campo (8-3) also forced four turnovers -- including a trio of interceptions on deep throws by Aaron Zwahlen -- and twice stopped Downey (8-3) on downs inside the five-yard line.

Once the Cougars grabbed a 14-0 lead in the first half, they gave the Knights a steady diet of Milan and Anthony Rodigo (20 carries, 182 yards, four touchdowns).

Downey's inside linebackers were neutralized much of the day by a blocking scheme that included a pulling guard and a lead blocker leading the running back through a hole.

"When they didn't have anyone over our guard, he would pull to take out a linebacker," said Milan, whose 63-yard touchdown made it 21-0 early in the third quarter. "I would take the other linebacker, walling him off with Anthony coming behind me. He'd do the same for me."

It was a familiar scene for a defense unable to contain the run or force an offense off the field in key games this year.

Del Campo ran 71 plays, including 63 runs for 441 yards. The Cougars had 40 plays for 201 yards at the half, Downey had 21 plays for just 77 yards.

"It's difficult to get into the rhythm for our passing game if we can't get on the field," Conner Purnell (four catches, 77 yards) said. "We need the defense to hold our water sometimes, and it didn't happen."

A few hundred fans were at Chuck Hughes Stadium for the 1 p.m. game. Downey had turned down the option to play on Saturday.

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Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at or

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