Vacaville High School’s football team has 300 passing yards in a game about as often as it rains in August. A few drops fell Monday, three days after Brody Fortunati threw for 321 yards and four touchdowns in a 43-0 rout of Davis.
The Bulldogs must have thought they were facing Elk Grove in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Fortunati’s 300-yard game was just the third for Vacaville since 2004. The other two came against the Thundering Herd in the playoffs.
Jeremy Villalobos threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-29 playoff loss to Elk Grove in 2019. Elk Grove rushed for 559 yards in a 52-48 victory in 2021, when Ryan Vaughn passed for 336 yards and two touchdowns.
Vaughn was a two-year starter and had seven games with 200 or more passing yards, including five in 2021. Vacaville had three 200-yard games from 2004 to 2018 – A.J. Hefner (2005), Ross Peacock (2008) and Chad Hekking (2013).
Villalobos was a senior when offensive coordinator Chris Santopadre left Vacaville’s coaching staff and Scott Wingert was promoted from quarterback coach to calling plays. That was the start of an offensive overhaul.
Wingert did not have a problem with the Wing T because only a handful of teams run an offense born in the 1950s. That became an advantage because opponents found it impossible to simulate the Wing T in practice to prepare.
A section championship in 2011 was made possible by sticking with an offense that fit the Bulldogs to a T. They beat Folsom 39-35 in the Division II title game by running the ball 66 times for 349 yards and five touchdowns.
In case anyone is wondering, quarterbacks Nic Ardave and the late Coleman Christensen combined to go 8-of-11 for 90 yards. Curtis Goins completed his only pass for 27 yards on a halfback option to make it 117 passing yards.
Those 66 running plays epitomized the season for the Bulldogs, who finished with 666 rushing attempts and 128 passing. The disparity was greater in 2006 as Vacaville won the section title by running 714 times and passing 120.
The Bulldogs completed both of their passing attempts in its 37-36 win over Merced in the title game. Ricky Rodarte completed one for a 1-yard loss. Robert Bensing completed one to Dion Bland, who happened to play for Merced.
Fast forward to 2019 when Wingert got his first opportunity to tinker with the offense. COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 fall season, so he had time to to discuss updating the team’s offensive style with head coach Mike Papadopoulos.
Five games in the spring of 2021 allowed Wingert to take the new spread offense for a test drive. The results showed promise with 140 running plays, 98 passing and a 5-0 record. That convinced Papadopoulos to give the go-ahead.
Wingert can draw plays in the synthetic turf all he wants, but the spread offense needs a skilled quarterback to pull the trigger. He was fortunate enough to have Villalobos for a year, Vaughn for two and now Fortunati for his second.
“We’ve got it going right now,” Wingert said Monday. “Our offense has evolved to where it’s at right now.”
The folks in Davis might want to spread the word to Vacaville’s future opponents. The spread offense is not a passing fancy.
The statistics in this story were compiled from MaxPreps.com.