For the second week in a row, Pacheco High football trailed early. But this time, no comeback was in the books for the Panthers in a 26-14 loss to Heritage-Brentwood.
The North Coast Section Division I school out-gained Pacheco 2-1 in total offense (398 yards to Pacheco’s 197), mostly behind the hard running of tailback Leandre Wright, who churned the Pacheco defense, a hard-hitting unit in its own right, for 199 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries.
“We had film on them from the last game when they played Bear River, and we were very impressed with the toughness and physicality that they brought,” Heritage coach Don Sanders said. “So we felt that if we could get to the outsides, maybe flank them a little bit, that might soften up the middle.”
The Pacheco offense didn’t do itself any favors, turning the ball over three times (two fumbles and an end-zone interception) in the first half.
“You can see there were a lot of hits tonight, and they’re a good football team. That’s one of the reasons we scheduled them,” Pacheco coach David Snapp said. “I don’t care what their record was last year, they play in a tough league and they’re a big school, and they’ve got some dudes.”
Heritage went 1-9 a year ago against one of the toughest schedules in northern California, and the only change this year was dropping Casa Grande for Pacheco.
“Last year’s schedule, we played three teams that went undefeated,” Sanders said. “So this year we moved on from Casa Grande and we picked Pacheco up, and we kind of felt that the schedule got tougher this week. We really respect the run, and they really are a physical team.”
The Patriots ground out a pair of long scoring drives in the first half, both ending in White touchdowns – the first after a Pacheco three-and-out and the second after a Pacheco fumble.
“Not to take anything away from them, but we’re down 14-0 because of our own mistakes and our own ineptitude,” Snapp said. “That’s basically what it comes down to. We’re turning the ball over, we can’t hit open receivers, we can’t stay in the pocket, we can’t squeeze down when the line blocks down and our D-line’s running downfield and creating gaps, and those are things we need to clean up before we get to Dos Palos, and for sure before we get to Buhach.”
The teams traded fumbles to start the second half before Pacheco quarterback Juwan Epperson slipped into the end zone from 1 yard out after a fumbled snap. But Heritage extended the score to 20-7 on a 41-yard White breakaway. By this time, White’s uniform was the dirtiest on the field after repeatedly smashing into Pacheco’s linebackers.
“We really beat each other up, and I was really glad to see both teams battle back and forth,” Sanders said. “I told the kids at the half, these kids were down last week. They’re not going to give up. They came from behind to win. So they’re not giving up. This is not a quitting team.”
Pacheco’s kickoff returns by Librado Velasquez put the Panthers in good position much of the night, but they were only able to capitalize with one more Epperson score, a 32-yard scramble in the fourth quarter. Epperson was held in check in the air though, completing five of 15 passes for just 37 yards. Pacheco running back Kalama Kamoku didn’t get far either, carrying eight times for 26 yards.Velasquez led the Panthers in rushing with 48 yards on five carries.