After last week’s performance against the Blair Oaks Falcons, Boonville senior running back Avian Thomas wanted to prove that he belonged with the elite running backs in the state.
While the Falcons held Thomas to just 2 yards on 13 carries, the senior all-state running back seemed to be back to his old self against the California Pintos Friday night with 19 carries for 212 yards and four touchdowns. He also had one interception for a touchdown in the second half, which put the Pirates up 41-0.
Of course it wasn’t only Thomas scoring touchdowns. Senior Tramell Coleman also scored on a 62-yard punt return in the second quarter while junior running back Andrew Wiser found the end zone on a 2-yard run late in the first half.
Add it up and it’s no wonder the Pirates won with a convincing 48-7 victory.
Boonville Pirates football coach Greg Hough said it was his intentions to get the running game going after last week.
“That’s what I want to do,” Hough said. “I want to be a run guy. I still think we are searching for a little bit of identity with Nick (Ferrari), our wide receivers and our offensive line. They all showed some ability last week to kind of do some things offensively with the pass game, but still at the end of the day we want to run the football. We want to establish the run game. We have an all-state running back in Avian Thomas, who is off the charts. The same thing with Andrew Wiser. We also want to get Tramell Coleman the ball in the run game.”
The run game was no problem against the Pintos, who dropped to 0-4 overall and 0-1 in the TCC. Boonville improved to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in league play.
For the record, the Pirates finished the game with 227 yards rushing on 36 carries and 51 yards through the air on 3 of 8 attempts. Boonville also finished the game with 11 first downs. California, meanwhile, had only 79 yards rushing and 42 passing for a total of 121 with five first downs.
Thomas said after the game that the win was great. “Everybody stepped up and Big Al (Alan McCarter) stepped up at left tackle with Nathan (Platt) out so that really helped,” Thomas said. “We also had our linemen help him out so that was big for us. We just have to keep it rolling.”
The machine churning on all cylinders in the first half as Boonville took a 34-0 lead at the break.
As for the scoring, the Pirates hit paydirt on their first possession on a 5-yard run by Thomas with 8:21 left. Of course prior to the score, which started at Boonville’s 11 and took only nine plays, the Pirates also turned a negative play into a positive. What could have been disaster was averted when Thomas scooped up a snap over Ferrari’s head and returned it 24 yards inside California territory.
The Pintos, meanwhile, struggled most of the night offensively while crossing midfield for the first time at the 10 minute mark in the first half.
But by then it was too little too  late as Boonville already had three touchdowns-the second coming on a 1-yard run by Thomas, which was set up after a miscue on the snap to the California punter. Meanwhile, after another punt by the Pintos, Coleman took his turn getting to the end zone with a 62 yard run for the score to extend the lead to 21-0.
The Pirates would tack on two more scores in the half when Wiser took the plunge from the 2, capping off a seven-play, 63 yard drive that took just two minutes.
Boonville scored again just two minutes later when Thomas took a hand off from Ferrari and raced around the left end for a 55-yard touchdown with 1:12 left in the half to make it 34-0.
Hough said he knew his team had the potential to score on some big plays.
“Teams are kind of taking some of that stuff away by playing soft in the secondary and kind of putting pressure on us to put drives together,” Hough said. “Our self-inflicted wounds is something we have to clean up such as the bad snaps, the holding calls and the unsportsmanlike. That’s not us. I want our kids to play our style of football and do what we need to do 100 percent of the time.”
The Pintos saw first hand what the Pirates can do offensively. After putting up 230 yards at the half while holding California to just 33 yards and two first downs, Boonville showed that it wasn’t just a offensive juggernaut.
On the Pintos first possession of the second half, Thomas ran a interception back for a touchdown from 55 yards out to push the lead to 41-0 with 11:18 left in the third. Of course the running clock was in full force with the touchdown. Meanwhile, after taking over on downs at their own 21 on California’s first possession, Boonville added to its point total-this time on a 7-yard run by Thomas with 55 seconds left in the third to extend the lead to 48-0.
Hough said it took too long to get the running clock. “I explained to our kids that if we get an opportunity to get a running clock, we have to keep the running clock going because every chance we have to have our first team out there in second half play, that puts us subject to injuries,” Hough said.
California would comeback with its only touchdown of the ballgame on a 17-yard run by sophomore Calen Kruger with 9:13 left to make it 48-7.
Coleman finished the game with three carries for 42 yards while Wiser had six carries for 26 yards and one score.
Ferrari completed 3 of 8 passes for 51 yards-all to senior Peyton Keeran.
On defense, DJ Wesolak, Greyson Mesik, Josh Polk and Harper Stock all tied for the team-high in tackles with seven. Mesik also had six tackles for losses while Wesolak had three tackles for losses and two sacks and Polk with one blocked punt. Lane West finished the game with six tackles and one tackle for a loss, followed by Peyton Keeran with five tackles, Dakota Rapp with four tackles, three tackles for a loss and one sack, Nash McKenzie with three tackles, Tramell Coleman with two tackles, Alan McCarter and Gaige Offineer each with one tackle and Avian Thomas with one interception.
Boonville junior punter Charlie Bronakowski also had three punts for 185 yards for an average of 61.5 yards per punt. For the season, Bronakowski is average 41.3 yards per punt in 15 attempts.
For California, Kruger finished the game with nine carries for 48 yards and one touchdown while completing 5 of 13 passes for 42 yards with one interception. Drake Schlup had two catches for 38 yards.
The win over California also marked Hough’s 70th win of his career in 14 seasons. At 70-70 in his career, Hough said he’s won some football games and lost some football games and appreciates every single win and the work it takes to win not only as a coach but as players.
““Honestly, it’s one of those things I didn’t even know. I invest 100 percent of what I have into the kids and into the school that’ I’m at and Boonville is where I’m at. Let’s get 71 next week at home during Homecoming.”