The opening drives for the Pleasanton Eagles almost set the tone for their District 14-4A DI opener at Boerne on Friday, Oct. 9.
In a 45-20 loss to the Greyhounds (4-2, 1-0), the Eagles (2-5, 0-1) had a chance to fire the opening salvo against the district favorite. Cole Wiechring punted the ball down to Boerne’s 25-yard line, where the Greyhounds muffed the punt and Pleasanton recovered.
Eight plays later, Boerne’s Will Pearson intercepted Pleasanton sophomore quarterback Sean Ramos. On their third drive, the Eagles lined up to punt and snapped the ball over Wiechring’s head for a safety. Boerne would add 22 more points in the second quarter after the Eagles held them to just the safety in the first quarter.
Head Coach Stephen Liska said a miss like that empty-handed redzone trip in the first quarter would’ve led past teams to hang their heads. This team eventually rallied within 18 points after trailing 38-0 in the third quarter.
“It goes back to we’re finally developing some leaders,” Liska said. “They’re beginning to trust each other more as the season goes on. It’s like I told them. I said, ‘It’s us against everybody.’ Boerne doesn’t care about if we turn the ball over or they turn the ball over, whatever. We’ve got to believe in each other and play for each other and bring energy, effort and focus to practice every day.”
Liska added that he was most proud about how his team responded to the deficit.
“It was 24-0 at halftime and we could’ve mailed it in,” he said. “The past two years, [Boerne] has jumped on us like that and we just laid an egg. But our kids came out, we gave up the touchdowns there, but we fought back and made adjustments on both sides of the ball. I thought we got better as a coaching staff and as a team.”
In the end, Boerne QB Rashawn Galloway and the Greyhound offense used their speed to the tune of 469 yards of total offense Friday night. Their star signal-caller was 10-of-18 for 210 yards passing and two touchdowns against two interceptions. Receiver Riley Pechacek finished with three catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns against the Eagles.
“This Boerne team, they’ve got speed and athletes everywhere,” Liska emphasized. “Our kids played hard, played tough. What happened early, we needed that. We needed some turnovers, we needed some momentum at [Boerne’s] expense. They had an open week, so they were a little rusty here and there. Our kids got after them and played tough. If we had scored there [after the muffed punt], it might have been a different ballgame, possibly. But Boerne is a good ballclub and there was a lot of time left to play.”
Ramos finished the game 17-of-32 passing for 119 yards and a touchdown against a pair of interceptions. The shifty QB also added 17 yards on the ground. He helped engineer Pleasanton’s three touchdowns on consecutive drives in the third and fourth quarters, including a 22-yard pass to Jayden Palacios in the corner of the end zone to open Pleasanton’s tally for the night, all despite dealing with heavy pressure from Boerne’s defensive front.
“A lot of that is credit to our offensive line and running backs for providing protection and our receivers running good routes,” Liska said. “But, yeah, Sean is a valuable athlete for us. He’s mentally tough. Being a sophomore going through this is good growing pains. Some of the mistakes he makes, we can live with because he’s 15 years old and he’s the guy running the show. There are a lot of armchair quarterbacks in the stands … but until under the lights, in the action and you’re the guy with the ball in your hand every play, it’s difficult. I’m extremely proud of that kid.”
While RB Toby Garner provided protection for Ramos, he also provided a much-needed spark for Pleasanton, scoring on two consecutive drives and posting 125 yards on the ground with another 15 yards receiving. That was Garner’s third straight games over 100 yards on the ground.
Liska said Garner’s reliability out of the backfield has helped the team trust each other.
“A lot of it is the trust,” Liska said. “I think there were some trust factors early on with the kids. We’ve developed into a trusting team. We have more energy and effort in our practices. They’ve come together. I told Toby on Saturday morning after last week’s game, ‘I need you to run violently and I need you to run physically.’ That’s what he did tonight, he did a great job.”
The Eagles will enjoy a bye this week before returning home against Uvalde on Oct. 23. Likely needing one win in this five-team district to make the playoffs, the Eagles feel confident entering their games with Uvalde and Somerset the following week.
“Uvalde on the 23rd, that’s gonna be a big game,” Liska said. “I’m glad it’s at home. The kids will be ready. We’ll have them ready. Somerset, they’ve been a rival of ours for a while because we’ve been in and out of districts with them since I’ve been in Pleasanton. Our kids will be ready, our coaches will have a good plan and we’ve gotta keep trusting each other.”