STOCKTON – Tony Franks wasn’t going to bring back the Wildcat formation until he was sure someone was going to be comfortable running it.

That person turned out to be sophomore Michael Chavez, who is taking advantage of his opportunities with the St. Mary’s High football team.

The Wildcat – and Chavez – were featured prominently in the Rams' crucial 42-20 win on Friday against the Tracy Bulldogs, a victory which gave the Rams (4-4, 3-0) sole possession of first place in the Tri-City Athletic League. Chavez shared time in the backfield with starting quarterback Noah May, who had an effective day for St. Mary's.

It’s not that the Rams haven’t run it before. Last season, Franks went to the formation often with Marcus Aponte in the backfield. But, he said, you have to have the right guy.

“It’s something that we’ve done for years. We did it a lot when Marcus Aponte was our quarterback,” Franks said. “We like it, and we like what Mike Chavez can do with the ball in his hands.

“He’s a terrific athlete. He’s fast, he’s tough, he gets good reads, and he can get the ball up the field. The thing is that he's a quarterback, so he's a threat to throw or run. That's a little different than some who run it.”

Franks did not run it until the fifth game of the season against Bishop O’Dowd, with Chavez sharing time with May.

“A big part of it was (Chavez’s) readiness,” Franks said. “It was his comfort level with being back there and running the show for us.”

The Wildcat is a formation where the ball is to a player who is snapped to another position player who lines up the quarterback position. Often, it’s a running back which slides over, but there are many variations.

Chavez lined up for the first time against the Bulldogs (5-3, 2-1) in the second period. He rushed for seven and 14 yards on his first two carries.

“It definitely makes it harder to stop us, because we have so many weapons,” Chavez said. “It opens everything up.”

May said he thought the Wildcat threw the Bulldogs off a bit.

“I didn’t think Tracy had a strategy to stop all of it,” May said. “We just have to bounce off each other. When he’s doing good, I’m doing good.”

Contact reporter Scott Linesburgh at (209) 546-8282 or slinesburgh@recordnet.com. Follow him on Twitter@ScottLinesburgh