Joe Davidson

Winners at last, Pleasant Grove snaps streak. ‘Maybe this crazy, short Irishman coach is right.’

FILE -- Matt Costa, then coaching for Kennedy, walks among his players on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Now at the helm of Pleasant Grove, Costa helped snap a 13-game losing streak Friday, Sept. 1, 2017.
FILE -- Matt Costa, then coaching for Kennedy, walks among his players on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Now at the helm of Pleasant Grove, Costa helped snap a 13-game losing streak Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. Sacramento Bee File Photo

Matt Costa addressed his team Thursday about effort, pride, accountability and more.

And then the first-year Pleasant Grove High School football coach walked away, curious about one thing in particular.

“The way our guys battled against Placer (in an opener), I think they started to think, ‘Maybe this crazy, short Irishman coach is right. Maybe we can be pretty good.’”

The Eagles are good enough, and they have been stamped winners for the first time in too long.

Behind 225 yards rushing and four touchdowns from D.J. Johnson, Pleasant Grove beat The Bee’s No. 20 Cosumnes Oaks 42-35 on Friday night – make that late, late Friday night – to snap a 13-game losing streak.

It was a home game played at Sheldon as the schools share the same venue, and a flood of Eagles students known as The Flock flooded the field to celebrate. The only joy in lengthy losing streaks is ending them, and this is the second time Costa has pulled off such a feat.

In his second season at Kennedy, in 2012, Costa rejoiced in a triumph of Johnson to halt a 28-game skid. Kennedy kept rising, reaching the playoffs in each of the past two seasons under Costa, who headed to Elk Grove for a new challenge at Pleasant Grove, which had produced championship seasons before going into decline.

“Oh man, what a feeling,” Costa said of Friday, a game that ended just before midnight. “There were hugs, hoopin’ and hollerin’ and more. I wanted it for the guys. You get that taste. You win one, then it becomes two, then it becomes three.”

Costa’s wife, Karyn, matched his glee, and then peppered him.

“I walked in the door with a big smile and she said, ‘Don’t look surprised! This is what you do! This is what is supposed to happen!’ She’s amazing, and she’s tough. If there’s anyone I want next to me in a bar fight, it’s her!”

▪ Streak ender, Part II: Nevada Union toppled No. 18 Placer 43-16 to break in the Miners’ new field turf at Hooper Stadium, and to halt an eight-game skid.

Owen Dal Bon passed for 141 yards and ran for 71 and two scores to set off a jubilant post-game scene that coach Dennis Houlihan said was a long time coming. He was a star player for the Miners in the late 1980s.

▪ Field grinder: What’s the best way to break in a new field in a new stadium? Run all over it, and that’s what Dominick Norris did.

The Vista del Lago senior rushed for 304 yards and four touchdowns to spark a 50-28 win over Ponderosa. Norris credited his line of Ryan Bernal, Andrew Cokley, Collin Homer, Josh Morris and Justin Ramos for the yards, and now he’s pondering where to feed the crew.

▪ Good man gone: Dick Sperbeck, the famed Christian Brothers coach of the 1960s and ‘70s who was instrumental in launching the coaching career of a number of area coaches and getting the Holy Bowl series against Jesuit started, died Thursday night after battling a lung infection.

Other storied coaches who died in recent years include Dewey Guerra, architect of the wish bone at Cordova in the 1970s; Erv Hatzenbuhler, whose single-wing fueled Galt in the 1970s and ‘80s; Gerry Kundert, a father of the wing-T at Mira Loma, starting in the 1960s; Joe Miller, whose pro-set offense in the 1970s led to championships at Delta; and Pete Scorza, who coached Kennedy’s best teams in the 1980s and ‘90s.

The presence of each remain.

▪ Simmons out: No. 10 Capital Christian sweated out a 36-33 victory at Modesto Christian in overtime, thanks to Kenyon Bowyer’s 21-yard field goal, but it came at a cost.

Star running back Christian Simmons could be lost for the season, told by doctors he’s out for at least six to eight weeks, with a fractured left fibula suffered during a play. The senior said he vows to continue to be a leader, adding, “I’m strong, always.”

Capital Christian hosts No. 9 Grant on Friday.

▪ More ouch: St. Mary’s of Stockton, the preseason favorite to repeat as Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champions, has lost promising sophomore quarterback Noah May for the season with a torn labrum.

▪ Debut win: A year ago, coach Justin Reber was engineering upset wins at top-ranked Folsom while at Sacramento High. Now he savors his first victory at El Dorado, a 48-28 victory over Del Mar in San Jose.

Dan Bell passed for four touchdowns and Steven Fox rushed for 242 yards and three scores.

“I’m excited about the community and the kids,” Reber said. “We’re pleased but we have a long way to go.”

▪ Pal update: After returning a kickoff 99 yards, returning an interception 50 yards and catching a 40-yard touchdown in a 72-0 rout of Kennedy, Isaah Crocker of Inderkum was off to Nebraska for a recruiting trip. He is a receiver/defensive back.

His good friend Isaiah Rutherford, a cornerback/running back for Jesuit, has also been fielding scholarship offers, including Notre Dame this week while also receiving text messages from USC coach Chad Helton, who hasn’t offered, though friendly text messages generally lead to such.

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

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