PLEASANTON–A year ago, the Pleasanton football team walked off the field after blowing a 19-point halftime lead in a loss to San Antonio Edison in their season opener.
It was one of the Eagles’ games in 2016 that inspired the team’s new “finish” mantra.
On Friday, Pleasanton faced the same scenario after two quarters. This year, the Eagles put their new slogan in action.
Despite a sluggish finish offensively, Pleasanton rode three first-half touchdown passes and a suffocating defense to a 19-6 win over the Golden Bears at Eagle Stadium to kick off the 2017 season.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to our kids,” said Pleasanton coach Stephen Liska, who made his head-coaching debut. “We may have had some ups and downs. We jumped on them early, and then we kind of just didn’t finish at times. We’ve got things to work on, but I’m really excited about the outcome and what we have to look forward to.”
Junior quarterback Johnny Zamora tossed touchdowns to three different receivers en route to 19 unanswered points for the Eagles to start the game. Zamora, who finished with more passing yards (187) than Edison had total offense (162), hit senior Jordan Bosquez on a 32-yard touchdown to open the scoring on Pleasanton’s second drive.
Zamora was one of several players knocked out of last year’s matchup because of injury. He said it was rewarding to win the “revenge game” over the Golden Bears and come out healthy.
“I’m glad I got to complete this game,” he said. “It’s not the way we’d like to end it, but a win’s a win. A ‘W’ on the record.”
Zamora also had scoring throws to Dalton Hobbs and Isaac Mendiola, who extended for a grab as he fell in the end zone to complete a 37-yard touchdown.
“Oh my goodness,” Zamora said of the senior Mendiola’s catch. “People tell me that that was a good throw, and I’m like, ‘No, that was not a good throw. That was a good catch.’ He made me look good.”
In all, five receivers had catches Friday. Liska said the depth of the Eagles skill players will make it tough on opposing defenses.
“What’s not to say about them?” Zamora said of his receiving corps. “I can throw it to any of of them, and I know they’ll catch it. I can put it anywhere, and they can catch it. I have so much trust in them. It’s unbelievable. I just love those guys so much.”
The Golden Bears had their lone score on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Joshua Gonzales to Nicholas Rodriguez with 8:03 remaining. Overall, the Eagles defense kept Edison in check.
Pleasanton had 10 stops of no gain or less, including sacks by Mendiola, Louis Arguijo, Gabriel Anguiano and Hunter Barnett. Linebacker Steven Mendiola clinched the win with an interception with 2:38 on the clock.
The Eagles celebrated the victory with a Gatorade bath and “first career win” banner for their new head man. Despite the fanfare, Liska refused to stand in the spotlight.
“I’m happy for the kids and this community. I’m glad I’m here,” he said. “This coaching staff, this means a lot to me to win this game with those guys. It’s not a ‘me’ thing, like I told the kids, this is a ‘we’ thing. If we can keep humble and stay healthy, I really like our chances against anybody on our schedule.”