Picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the Western Athletic Conference in a preseason media poll, Patterson High's varsity football team was supplied some motivational material before fall camp even started.
With the season progressing and the Tigers still undefeated after a 21-14 victory against Pacheco High of Los Banos Friday, Oct. 25, the assistance keeps coming from various analysts who are not yet convinced.
"Everybody put us fourth, fifth -- nowhere close to the top 3 teams in the league," said Patterson coach Nick Marchy. "We're going to keep coming out and playing. We might struggle at times, but we finish the job."
While there are plenty of brickbats from media members, Marchy said Friday night that none of it has any bearing on what will happen to the Tigers on the field this year.
"We're concerned with putting wins on the board," Marchy said. "Our kids keep battling. They don't stop. They don't give up. On Friday nights we show up ready to play."
There is unbridled, unspoiled excitement around Patterson football right now, Marchy added. At 8-0, the Tigers are the only remaining undefeated team in the conference.
Patterson (4-0 WAC) has steeled itself, taking an "us-against-the-world" approach. The Tigers haven't needed much luck this year, just 48 minutes to inflict their damage on the gridiron.
Another large crowd showed up at Patterson Community Stadium Friday to watch the Tigers roar past the Pacheco Panthers (6-3 overall, 3-2 WAC) on senior night.
After a scoreless first quarter, special-teamer Carlos Garcia came up big for Pacheco. His 25-yard completion to teammate Maurice Harden from punt formation was converted for a first down, and kept alive a drive that the visitors parlayed into the first touchdown of the game.
Pacheco got a clock-churning drive in its possession, chewing up nearly six minutes before back Frank Ginda -- playing with his left hand in a cast after suffering a spiral fracture in his wrist -- barreled across the goal line from one yard out to make the score 7-0 in favor of the Panthers.
With 4:45 left in the second quarter, Patterson took over at its own 40, turning a hitch-and-go into a 34-yard touchdown, when Damien Paulo connected with receiver Avion Warmsley up the left side. Tigers’ kicker Alex Gebbing converted the extra-point kick to make it 7-7.
Patterson wasted little time jumping ahead. On the first play of the third quarter, Daniel Kelepi hauled in a pass from Paulo, found a hole on the left side and galloped up the Pacheco sideline for a 70-yard touchdown.
"No matter what team we're facing, we show up," Kelepi said. "I noticed that the safety was creeping up. I looked at (Paulo), he gave me the hand (signal), and he hit me with a laser. I knew I had to score for my brothers."
With 1:30 remaining in the third quarter, and on third-and-14 from their own 11, the Panthers decided to pass for the first down.
Instead, Ruben Rosas benefited from a tipped pass by teammate Hunter Powers, stepping in front of the intended receiver in the right flat, gathering himself and sprinting 18-yards into the end zone.
The Panthers still had some fight left.
Pacheco cashed in on a fumble with 6 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, capitalizing four plays later on a 2-yard TD push by Ginda to pull within one touchdown.
With 2:01 remaining, Harden stepped in front of a pass intended for tight end Jordan Levu.
The potential game-tying drive for Pacheco began at its own 25-yard line. But Brandon Williams intercepted quarterback Juwan Epperson along the Patterson sideline with 1:41 to go, sealing the victory over the Panthers.
"We don't live to the doubters expectations. We have our own expectations. We have our own goals," Levu said.
The Tigers will continue their league season at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, when they will travel to meet the Livingston High Wolves (1-8, 0-5).
It really didn’t matter who ran the ball for the JV Tigers against Pacheco High of Los Banos on Friday, Oct. 25 -- they just kept piling up the yards.
Brothers Antoine and Antone Bostic, Jamal Broussard, Alec Espos, Caden Johnson and Michael Lawson combined for more than 250 yards rushing and six touchdowns as the Tigers posted a 54-0 win over the Pacheco Panthers at Patterson Community Stadium.
"All season we've never looked into the future. We're taking things one game at a time," said Patterson coach Harley Parson. "Our kids handle that approach well, and they are focused come game time. I'm really proud of how they play."
Patterson (8-0, 4-0) scored in a variety of ways in the blowout victory, from the ground game to the air attack, producing a number of big plays.
Espos took the first handoff of the contest, cut to the right and outran the Pacheco secondary for a 65-yard touchdown.
On Pacheco's ensuing possession, Patterson's Nicholaus Priester intercepted the Panthers' quarterback after the pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Four plays and less than two minutes later, the Tigers scored again, when Lawson pounded in a 1-yard carry.
Patterson linebacker Jerry Arredondo intercepted a pass on Pacheco’s next possession, and again the Tiger offense went back to work.
With 2:48 left in the opening quarter, Patterson quarterback Kevin Todd hit Priester with a 16-yard scoring toss to make it 21-0 Tigers.
Patterson forced a turnover on downs, and with the first snap of the second quarter, Todd was again looking for Priester downfield, this time connecting with his tight end for a 62-yard touchdown strike.
Antone Bostic followed blockers into the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown run near the 6-second mark of the second quarter to make it 34-0. The six-play drive was keyed by a throw by Todd to Lawson that went for 34 yards.
Lawson intercepted a pass on the first play of the second half, and Johnson took a shovel pass 8 yards into the endzone for a 41-0 advantage.
The Panthers drove to their own 35, but a fourth-and-10 throw went incomplete with 7:16 left in the third quarter.
From there, Broussard (three sacks) rumbled his way through the Pacheco defense, carrying the ball 26 yards for another Patterson score.
Antoine Bostic capped the triumph for Patterson with an 11-yard TD run.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or email@example.com.