Pacheco High football coach David Snapp remembers the look on his players’ faces when they faced the Central Catholic juggernaut last year, a game the Raiders won 55-15.
The Panthers will get a second chance tonight when Central Catholic visits Veterans Stadium for the return trip.
“I thought last year we were ready to play, and then you get there and you see the look in our kids’ eyes,” Snapp said. “I’ve never seen that in this group of guys. You can run the 49ers out here and they’d be excited to play against them.
“It’s a great challenge for us, but I think it’s one – we’re at that point in our program that we need something like this. They’re looking forward to it, and they want to make a name for themselves. No better way to do it than to play these guys.”
And while defending state Division 4 champion Central Catholic will always be Central Catholic, Snapp and his players are confident after a week of watching film.
“(They’re) a damn good football team. They’re machine-like,” Snapp said. “I don’t think they have the explosiveness they had last year, but they’re still a good football team. They’re big, physical, and they’re accustomed to winning and not having anyone push them around. They know how to win, and we’re trying to figure it out.”
Gone are the twin running backs that gave the league fits last year in Ray Vega and Ray Lomas IV. Gone is monster tight end John Mundt, who has 6 catches for 149 yards and a pair of touchdowns so far for Oregon.
But the Raiders still have a prolific run game – senior Matt Ringer has carried 112 times for 846 yards and 14 touchdowns. And defensively, CC showed what it can do with a shutout of Downey two weeks ago.
“Their defense is pretty solid,” Pacheco running back Frank “The Tank” Ginda said. “Their two middle linebackers fly around, they have pretty big defensive linemen that like to bull-rush people. The safeties like to fly to the ball.”
Ginda set a school record last Friday with 292 yards on 30 carries (also a school record) in Pacheco’s 29-7 victory over Central Valley in Ceres. He also scored a pair of touchdowns. The previous record was 207 yards set by Paul Parks in a 28-19 win against Livingston last year.
“My offensive line was doing some damage,” Ginda said. “They were blocking pretty good. I wouldn’t have gotten those yards without them.”
The 6-foot-2, 227-pound junior was pressed into the full-time role by an ankle injury to Moffat Teneng, who splits time with Ginda. Teneng is iffy for tonight’s game, according to Snapp. Teneng gives the Panthers’ offense another dimension – teams that are built to stop guys like Ginda are not built to catch shifty backs like Teneng, who has rushed for 334 yards in four games.
Ginda came up through the Los Banos Wildcats youth football program, and said he didn’t play running back the first two years he played, starting at lineman and then moving to linebacker. The junior plays both sides of the ball for Pacheco, doubling as the team’s middle linebacker and leader of the defense. He was key in stopping Central Valley running back Ja’Quan Gardner, who is chasing the section career rushing yards record.
“Gardner’s a freakin’ nightmare to coach against, and we hit him early and got him rattled a little bit, and I think that kind of slowed him down,” Snapp said. “And then their poor quarterback, he just – guy’s a good football player, but I think he’s having nightmares about our defense. We didn’t sack him a lot of times, but every time just as he released the ball there was someone in his armpit, drilling him.”
Tonight’s game is Pacheco’s “A Crucial Catch” game for cancer awareness. One dollar from each ticket will go to the American Cancer Society.
Gustine avoids another 1-9
Gustine High has gone 1-9 in each of the last four seasons, but that streak will stop at four after a 71-21 win over Turlock Christian in Friday’s Southern League opener gave the Redskins a 2-2 record.
Senior running back Isaiah Figueroa rushed 29 times for 308 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and quarterback Robert Mello found the end zone five times – three with his legs and two with his arm on passes to Richie Paulding and Josh Bettencourt.