The baseball player did a nice job on the football field Friday night for Millard West.
Quarterback Tristan Gomes rushed for four touchdowns to lead the Wildcats to a 30-0 season-opening win over Millard North. The 6-foot-4 senior recently gave his college baseball commitment to Cal State Fullerton.
“He could play football if he wanted,” Millard West coach Kirk Peterson said. “He’s just a really good athlete.”
Gomes scored on runs of 3, 6, 14 and 31 yards. He finished with 99 yards on nine carries.
“It’s tough to play a team like that,” Gomes said. “We knew they had a lot of players back so we knew what we had to do.”
The victory at Buell Stadium resembled last year’s opener between the teams, won by Millard West 35-0. The Mustangs went 3-6 in 2018 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
The Wildcats dominated again, allowing 138 yards in total offense — 80 yards rushing and 58 passing. Millard West finished with 382 yards with 295 coming on the ground.
Much of those rushing yards came from running back Ethan Valencia, who was making his first varsity start. The 5-10 senior carried 27 times for 154 yards.
“He played on the freshman team, the sophomore team and the junior varsity,” Peterson said. “I crave kids like him who have worked their way up.”
Millard West went ahead 7-0 late in the first quarter on Gomes’ 6-yard run. That play capped a 12-play, 86-yard drive.
That march was kept alive by three Millard North penalties, something that haunted the Mustangs all night.
They were whistled 15 times for 127 yards.
One of those penalties denied Millard North a touchdown early in the second quarter. Blake Closman returned an interception 47 yards for a score but a clipping penalty brought it back.
Gomes’ 3-yard TD run midway through the period made it 14-0, and the score stayed that way until the third quarter.
Junior Nasser Nabulsi booted a 33-yard field goal to extend Millard West’s lead to 17-0.
The Mustangs had a chance to break through on their next possession, but a goal-line stand by the Wildcats preserved the shutout. Tackles by Dane Christensen and Zach Main helped bring up fourth down and running back Keshaun Wright was tackled for an 8-yard loss by linebacker Nathan Pesek.
The Wildcats then put the game out of reach, marching 90 yards for another Gomes touchdown.
“To stop them and then put that drive together was big,” Peterson said. “I think we kind of wore them out.”
Millard West added one more touchdown on Gomes’ longest run of the night, a 31-yarder with 5:56 left in the game.
Despite his four scores, Gomes wanted to talk about Valencia’s workhorse performance after the game.
“He ran like crazy,” the quarterback said. “He was a big part of this win.”
It doesn’t get any easier for Millard West, which hosts defending Class A champion Omaha Burke next Friday. The Bulldogs defeated the Wildcats 35-28 in last year’s state tournament semifinals.
“We were so close,” Gomes said. “We expect another tough game against them this year.”