Sometimes a last-minute loss can have an effect on a team – and Pacheco’s 35-33 loss to Escalon last Friday was a doozy. Escalon quarterback Ben Hood scrambled away from an intense pass rush by Pacheco’s Hunter Mendez to hit Christian May on a 30-yard touchdown pass on the last play of the game.
But Pacheco coach David Snapp doesn’t think the loss will affect the Panthers (1-1) for long.
“We put it behind on Saturday morning at practice,” Snapp said. “We talked about some things, and then we moved on.”
A few key Pacheco mistakes kept Escalon in the game. In addition to Hood’s hail-Mary pass to May, a roughing the passer call on Escalon’s winning drive gave the Cougars the ball near midfield instead of facing third-and-10 from their own 29-yard line, and a high snap on an extra point early in the game put the Panthers behind, forcing an ultimately-unsuccessful 2-point attempt later in the game. A Frank Ginda touchdown catch early in the game was called back for holding, but quarterback Juwan Epperson made up for that with a 20-yard touchdown run on the next play.
“It’s hard to fault a kid. You never know what an official’s going to call or not call,” Snapp said about the roughing call. “It’s tough – I don’t want to take the aggressiveness out of the kids, but at the same time we want to clean it up and have them play smart football.”
The Panthers will be looking for smart football tonight when they walk into Bill Hume Stadium in Dos Palos to take on the Broncos. Dos Palos is coming off a 28-14 loss to Hilmar in its opener last Friday.
“I’m expecting us to bounce back and play good, but Dos Palos is Dos Palos, especially with a new coach,” Snapp said. “They don’t look bad on film, and they’re trying some new things. I told the kids, when I was coaching at Los Banos, we thought we had a team that could beat them and we walked out with a 21-20 loss.
“I think with their new coach, they have a renewed sense of urgency.”
The Broncos’ renewed sense of urgency took a hit when starting tailback Izzac Suarez went down with an ankle injury on the first play of the Hilmar game. In stepped backup Ryan Willis, who finished with 40 yards on the night.
“They’re a good football team, they were bringing pressure all night,” Dos Palos coach Shawn Garrick said. “Their nose tackle did a good job of disrupting our offense, and we had some kids that had to play that weren’t expecting to play.”
The good news is that Suarez’s ankle injury isn’t nearly as bad as it looked.
“We thought he broke his ankle at first, but the hospital came back negative. So he had a pretty good sprain,” Garrick said. “Now that we have him back, the sprain may not be as bad as we thought. Through the miracles of modern technology, he may be back this week. He’s walking without a limp, he can jog without a limp, so we’ll see how it looks on Thursday.”
Despite a 33-7 Pacheco win last year, both teams enter the game with a healthy respect for each other.
“To me, they look like a good football team,” Garrick said. “They run a power, hit-you-in-the-mouth style, and they have a good quarterback we’ll have to contain. They also have an aggressive, good defense. We definitely need to be ready to play.”
And while the intensity may not be near what both teams will for rival Los Banos, Snapp warns that the Broncos are always dangerous.
“I’m expecting a battle,” he said. “They’re playing at home, and they usually play pretty well at home. I expect them to be fired up, and we need to play to our abilities to come out with a win.”
Enterprise staff writer David Witte can be reached at (209) 826-3831 ext. 6565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.