Dublin High had been absent from post-season play since 2005, but made the most of their playoff opportunity against visiting Ukiah High.
The Gaels played smart and kept possession of the football to beat the Wildcats, 35-7, in the first round of North Coast Section Division II playoffs Saturday night.
Ukiah got off to a 7-0 lead after scoring on their first drive of the game and seemed to have a good mix of passing and running plays. But the Gaels answered right back with a rushing score by tailback Major Stelly.
Ukiah High couldn’t hold on to the ball the rest of the game, giving up the football on two fumbles and two interceptions.
Dublin’s offense was able to run the ball successfully behind Stelly, who used his quickness to weave through Wildcat defenders on his way to more than 100 rushing yards and his two touchdowns.
“We were trying to play our run game, since it’s raining,” said Stelly. “We tried to march it down and we knew that since it was raining we weren’t going to be able to pass it too much.”
The efficient running game opened up passing lanes for senior quarterback Edward Achziger. He found senior receiver Artis Jones for a 45-yard touchdown off a play action pass with two minutes left on the first half, making the score 28-7.
“We saw that when they brought their safety down, on one of our play actions, we could take our shot there,” said Achziger. “They were really diving at the run, and that just opened up a lot of passing lanes for us.”
Achziger finished the game with two passing touchdowns and a 12-yard rushing touchdown. He gave his offensive line all the credit for the team’s victory over Ukiah High.
“I’m really proud of my offensive line. They stepped it up really big,” said Achziger. “This win is on them because they got us all the rushing yards, they gave me time to throw and this is a big win for our O-line and I’m really proud of them.”
Head coach John Wade said his team needs to build on what they’re were able to do Saturday, by continuing to be successful on the ground and opening up more on the passing side of the game.
“For the school this is the first time since 2005 that they’ve won a playoff game, and been in a playoff game even,” said Wade. “This is a big opportunity for us to try and go on the road next week, but just to get in the playoffs was our goal.”
The Gaels will play College Park High School (7-4) at Diablo Valley College next weekend in the second round of the playoffs.