The third annual Crosstown Clash football game between Los Banos and Pacheco high schools is about more than just bragging rights to the town of Los Banos.
The winner will be in the playoffs. If Los Banos loses, they would be out of the playoffs with a loss and a 5-5 record, but Pacheco’s strength of schedule will probably get the Panthers into the playoffs if they lose and finish with a 6-4 record.
“We’ve had some good practices, and the kids know what’s at stake,” Los Banos coach Dustin Caropreso said. “They don’t want to be the first varsity team to lose to them. The only thing we ask them to do is give 110 percent, and whatever happens, happens. We’re looking forward to a good football game.”
Los Banos has owned the fledgling rivalry so far, winning 35-7 in 2011 and 10-6 last year. The 2012 edition was something of a surprise, with an 8-1 Los Banos team struggling against a 5-4 Pacheco team.
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“With rivalry games, anything can happen,” Pacheco coach David Snapp said. “That first year, they were talking about how they were going to beat us 70-0, and it was 35-7. Last year they were saying the same stuff, and it was 10-6.
“I just want to get it over with. We know them pretty well. I think they’ll come up with some things. We have to be prepared for anything.”
This year’s game is a little different, with Pacheco sporting a 6-3 record to Los Banos’ 5-4, and the Panthers are favored to win it for the first time after Los Banos lost 35-7 to Central Valley last week. The Sac-Joaquin Section sends 64 teams to the playoffs from Division 1 to 4, and so far 53 of them have six wins. Another 21 teams have five wins.
“I’m looking forward to it, I think the kids have been looking forward to it,” Caropreso said. “Win and you’re in the playoffs, against your rival. I shouldn’t have to say anything to get these kids fired up.”
The game will feature quite a few individual battles – starting with the trenches. Pacheco’s offensive line of Jesse and Victor Cortez, Joseph Coronado, Josh Tui and Wyatt Orozco, which hast mostly played together the last three years, goes up against a tenacious LB defensive line featuring Josh Priest, Elias Navarro and Michael Severino.
“Our defense has shown we can play with everybody, and their offensive line has shown they can play with anyone,” Caropreso said. “I don’t know. It’s going to be a battle.”
Offense has been Pacheco strength, and defense has been LB’s strength. Pacheco Running backs Frank “The Tank” Ginda and Moffat Teneng and tight end Hunter Mendez will go up against Los Banos linebackers like Darren Baty, Ryan Selfridge, Alec Barcellos and Jerome Vander Poel. Pacheco quarterback Juwan Epperson and receivers Maurice Harden and Adam Perez will battle with defensive backs like Adam Herrera, Chris Lonetree and Gilbert Fuentes.
“I think they play real hard on defense,” Snapp said. “That’s been their hallmark all year is that their defense has been their backbone. Coach (Jon) Betschart does a good job.”
Pacheco’s defense, meanwhile, sees a Los Banos offense on film that has been fairly one-dimensional this year, mostly handing the ball to running back David Walker. Walker sat out the Central Valley game, giving Herrera a start at running back. The Tigers made a switch at quarterback two games ago, switching Tyler Cicairos from receiver to quarterback and putting Loggan Pimentel at tight end and linebacker.
“Once again, we’ve got to stay on our blocks, and we’re going to have to pass protect,” Caropreso said. “People knew we were going to run the ball, and they’ll stack eight in the box. You can only run so much into a brick wall before something gives. Usually it’s the guy running into the wall.”