High School Football

Gauchos lose, but Stewart provides highlights against Pacheco

Pacheco wide receiver Maurice Harden catches a pass in the second quarter Friday night, Oct. 3, 2014 against El Capitan High at Merced College stadium.
Pacheco wide receiver Maurice Harden catches a pass in the second quarter Friday night, Oct. 3, 2014 against El Capitan High at Merced College stadium. glieb@losbanosenterprise.com

Pacheco High football did what it was supposed to do and blew out first-year school El Capitan 70-24 on Friday, but Gaucho junior Josh Stewart didn’t make it easy.

Stewart ran the ball 26 times for 203 hard-earned yards, and found the end zone once in the loss.

“My line was doing great tonight,” Stewart said. “They were opening up holes, and I was hitting them sometimes. I didn’t always see them, but the line was on point.”

Stewart has emerged as a leader for the new team, playing running back and middle linebacker. Even getting hammered by a physical Pacheco defense, the junior bounced to his feet and offered encouragement to his teammates.

“He gives us that presence that we need. With the spread that we run, the goal is to wear those guys down in the front,” El Capitan coach Michael Machado said. “He doesn’t quit. He never gets tired.”

Pacheco defensive back Jose Delacruz saw first-hand the kind of physical runner Stewart can be, saying he compares favorably to Pacheco running backs Kalama Kamoku and Frank Ginda.

“He’s still young, so I can see him getting up there as well,” Delacruz said. “He’s a big kid. Hard to take down.”

Pacheco proved too big and physical for the sophomore-laden El Capitan, jumping out to a 28-3 lead in the first six and a half minutes of the game. Pacheco quarterback Juwan Epperson tossed four touchdown passes in the first half and stood on the sideline for the second half – except for one play when his backup, Carlos Garcia, lost his helmet and had to come off.

Epperson completed 10 of 14 passes for 231 yards, with leading receiver Maurice Harden catching 5 passes for 105 yards and a score.

EC’s passing game couldn’t keep up, with Chase Whitaker completing 11 of 29 passes for 157 yards – but the real killer was five interceptions, three of them into the hands of Delacruz.

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“He was definitely staring down his receiver,” Delacruz said, “So I was able to read him and make a play on the ball.”

Librado Velazquez and Daniel Villegas also hauled in picks for Pacheco (4-2). Kamoku missed the game with a knee injury, so Moffat Teneng carried the load for the Panthers, rushing 9 times for 92 yards. Ginda found the end zone once on a reception and once on a carry.

Livingston 26, Ceres 21, at Livingston – Jose Mejia sent the homecoming crowd home happy, scoring a touchdown run with less than three minutes to play to complete a Wolves (5-1, 2-0 WAC) comeback victory over Ceres.

Gustine 21, Waterford 10, at Gustine – The Gustine (4-1, 1-1 SL) defense came up big, forcing three interceptions and only allowing three points in a home victory over the Wildcats.

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