Things fell perfectly into place Friday night for Central Valley football coach Scott Edwards.
His Hawks raced out to a huge lead in their Western Athletic Conference opener against Pacheco, sputtered offensively for most of the second half, and then held on for a 38-21 victory.
While that may sound like half a perfect evening, for Edwards, it’s just the right balance: The Hawks (3-2)win, share first place with preseason favorite Los Banos, and their coach still has plenty to complain about Monday afternoon at practice.
“So true,” said Edwards, a smile creeping across his face. “So true.”
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One thing Edwards won’t complain about is the play of kicker Angel Lopez, who also plays for the Central Valley soccer team.
“He’s become a weapon for us,” said Edwards, whose team has won three in a row and will need that momentum against host Patterson this week. “He’s given us great field position, and our defense has managed it for us, which is what we preach.”
Lopez booted the opening kickoff out of bounds at about the 10-yard line, which drew a penalty flag. But instead of taking the ball at the 35, Pacheco had Lopez kick off again, this time five yards farther back. Lopez blasted the ball deep into the end zone and Pacheco set up at the 20, losing 15 yards of field position.
The Panthers went three-and-out, and a short punt gave the Hawks the ball at Pacheco’s 40.
It was the start of a trend. Pacheco’s first three possessions ended in three-and-outs, and Central Valley’s first three possessions started in Panthers territory, with each resulting in points.
Lopez opened the scoring with a 26-yard field goal midway through the first quarter, and Jamarea Lumpkin capped the next two drives with six-yard touchdown runs.
Pacheco’s fourth drive, which started on its 5 thanks to another booming kick by Lopez, resulted in a fumble that Adrian Badillo recovered. Pacheco quarterback Carl Schofield was injured on the play and was carted off on a stretcher. When play resumed, the Hawks were given another short field and scored on Lumpkin’s 16-yard jaunt to make it 24-0.
With sophomore Aric Barton taking over after Schofield’s injury, the Panthers’ offense seemed to come to life. Barton orchestrated his team’s first score, capping the drive with a 17-yard scramble around right end.
“Aric’s a gamer,” said Pacheco coach David Snapp, whose team fell to 1-4. “With him as quarterback, it’s going to be three years of not-real-pretty. But he’s the type of guy you want in a street fight.”
Johnny Pittman scored on a one-yard dive to put CV up 31-7 at halftime. In the second half, Pacheco outscored the Hawks 14-7. A small victory for the Panthers, but a victory nonetheless.
“That was huge for us,” Snapp said. “We were a way different team in the second half. We want maximum effort. The wins will take care of themselves when you play hard consistently.
“I think we acquitted ourselves well in that second half. I feel much better now than I did at halftime.”
Edwards, conversely, wasn’t so pleased with the final 24 minutes. Though he got big rushing performances from Lumpkin (19 carries, 140 yards, four touchdowns) and Moses Ghiorso (12 carries, 140 yards), the offense couldn’t sustain drives and fumbled multiple times (though the Hawks recovered all of them).
“They didn’t answer the challenge that I presented to them at halftime,” Edwards said. “Championship teams have to put the dagger in opponents and finish them off the right way.”
So true, so true.