Historic Eagles run out of time

Pleasanton’s season ends in regional semifinal loss to Fredericksburg, 28-20


Pleasanton captains (L-R) JJ Morales, Joel Arevalo, Peyton Eichman and Cade Mitchell head to midfield for the opening coin toss carrying a jersey in memory of Dr. Matthew Mann. J GARCIA| PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Pleasanton captains (L-R) JJ Morales, Joel Arevalo, Peyton Eichman and Cade Mitchell head to midfield for the opening coin toss carrying a jersey in memory of Dr. Matthew Mann. J GARCIA| PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Pleasanton benefited from hard work and good fortune for most of the 2021 season and especially in the first two rounds of the playoffs to make it to the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

The Eagles’ luck ran out, despite their hard work, in the regional semifinals against Fredericksburg last Friday night at San Antonio’s Dub Farris Stadium.

Back-to-back Eagle fumbles in the third quarter led to 14 points for the Battlin Billies who then held on for a 28-20 win to advance to the regional finals for the first time in that program’s history.

Pleasanton entered the game looking for its third trip to the regional finals in program history. After falling short against Fredericksburg, the Eagles will now have to wait until next year to try and make another playoff run.

“Nobody in the outer area expected us to be here,” Pleasanton Head Coach Stephen Liska said. “We had a good feeling that we had the talent to get it done. They stuck to the process and battled every week.”

Jayden Palacios catches a ball while Fredericksburg’s Sam Seidenberger tries to bring him down during the regional semifinal game in San Antonio last Friday night. J GARCIA| PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Jayden Palacios catches a ball while Fredericksburg’s Sam Seidenberger tries to bring him down during the regional semifinal game in San Antonio last Friday night. J GARCIA| PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Prior to the game there was a moment of silence for Dr. Matthew Mann, whose untimely passing from a heart attack six days earlier left the community in shock and mourning. The Eagles captains carried a jersey with “Dr. Mann” written on the back with them to the opening coin toss.

“He was a brilliant mind and a special person. He was a hands on educator who loved our kids and loved our community.” Liska said of Dr. Mann after the game. “He was a great man and he’s always going to be thought of highly by these Pleasanton Eagles and this community.”

The Eagles certainly did their best to give the community a boost of joy. Pleasanton scored a touchdown on the third play of the game when Sean Ramos completed a pass to Jayce Krauskopf that went for 55 yards and six points. The Eagles’ extra point attempt by Jose Angel-Perez was no good and Pleasanton settled for a 6-0 lead with 11:14 left in the first quarter.

Pleasanton Senior JJ Morales gives encouragement to the team after the game against Fredericksburg in San Antonio last Friday night. Morales is one of 21 seniors who played their final game as an Eagle in the regional semifinals. The 21 seniors helped lay the foundation for what the Eagles were able to accomplish in the 2021 season. J GARCIA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Pleasanton Senior JJ Morales gives encouragement to the team after the game against Fredericksburg in San Antonio last Friday night. Morales is one of 21 seniors who played their final game as an Eagle in the regional semifinals. The 21 seniors helped lay the foundation for what the Eagles were able to accomplish in the 2021 season. J GARCIA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Pleasanton held that 6-0 lead the rest of the first quarter as the defenses for both teams clamped down.

Fredericksburg got on the board with 10:11 left in the second quarter when the Billies quarterback Cole Immel scored on a one-yard touchdown run. The Billies got the extra point to take a 7-6 lead. Less than four minutes later the Billies increased their lead to 14-6 with a 14-yard touchdown run by Kade Jenschke at the 6:32 mark.

The Eagles cut the margin to one point later in the second quarter. Ramos completed a three-yard touchdown pass to Diego Luna with seven seconds remaining in the second quarter. Pleasanton opted for the extra point and the game went to halftime with Fredericksburg holding a slight 14-13 lead.

Pleasanton appeared to have the momentum to start the third quarter after Fredericksburg fumbled the kickoff and the Eagles recovered the fumble. The Eagles were unable to take advantage of the fumble and had to punt the ball away four plays later.

Pleasanton’s Jayce Krauskopf (21) tries to carry the ball around Fredericksburg’s Javier Rodriguez (14) during the regional semifinal game in San Antonio last Friday night. J GARCIA| PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Pleasanton’s Jayce Krauskopf (21) tries to carry the ball around Fredericksburg’s Javier Rodriguez (14) during the regional semifinal game in San Antonio last Friday night. J GARCIA| PLEASANTON EXPRESS

The Billies punted on their next possession. It was on the Eagles’ second possession of the half that the game began to turn away from Pleasanton. On the second play of the drive Ramos was sacked and fumbled the ball at the Pleasanton 16. Ramos was injured on the play and would not return to the game.

Fredericksburg took advantage of the fumble with a touchdown run of 16 yards on the first play of their possession. The Billies had increased their lead to 21-13 with 7:20 left in the third quarter.

On the next Eagles possession, freshman Cade Segura stepped in at quarterback. The Eagles were struck again by the fumble bug as on the second play of the drive, the Billies forced a fumble on a Joel Arevalo run. Fredericksburg recovered at the Eagles 40. Nine plays later the Billies had pushed their lead to 28-13 with a one-yard touchdown run by Immel.

Pleasanton continued to fight hard even as momentum had swapped a green jersey for a red one. The Eagles cut the deficit to 28-20 with 8:45 left in the fourth quarter when Segura and Jayden Palacios connected on an 83-yard touchdown pass.

Pleasanton had one more chance to try and tie the game in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles’ drive ended with a turnover on downs with 2:04 left to play.

The road might have ended for the 2021 Pleasanton Eagles but this was a young team of Eagles that now knows what it takes to get to the third round of the playoffs.

Those Eagles that are juniors and below this season will return next season looking to get back to this point and move on a little further.

“It’s been great having the experience,” Palacios said. “Knowing what it feels like so we can have more runs like this.”

They can look to the historic Eagles for an example of it being done before. In 2006 the Eagles lost in the third round, a year later, in 2007, they advanced to the fourth round.

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