Pacheco High football coach David Snapp admits Friday’s game against Livingston, pitting two undefeated conference teams, is a surprise on his calendar.
Coming off a 1-9 season and 55-8 thrashing at the hands of Pacheco a year ago, few would have guessed the Wolves would be hosting the Panthers in a battle of Western Athletic Conference leaders.
Still, Snapp is as happy with the Wolves’ 5-1 start as anyone.
“There aren’t too many people that expected Livingston to be 5-1 overall or 2-0 in the WAC,” Snapp said. “I think it’s great for the league. When Central Catholic was in the WAC, you could always count on three or four tough league games every year. The more competitive we are across the board, the better it makes everyone come playoff time.
“We’ve really been talking this one up to the kids. The winner has the inside track to the league title. It could be particularly big for us, because we don’t have to leave Los Banos the whole rest of the regular season.”
In contrast, Livingston coach Alex Gonzalez has tried to downplay the showdown.
The Wolves got overly pumped in front of a capacity homecoming crowd last week and were forced to fight back from a 14-point halftime deficit in a 26-21 victory against Ceres.
“We’ve just been trying to approach it like it’s any other league game,” Gonzalez said. “The kids know. They know Pacheco has been the league favorite to win it all. They know it’s a great opportunity to put ourselves in the title hunt.
“We don’t really need to provide any extra hype. They’re going to come out fired up for this one.”
It’s a classic matchup of two teams that want to control the ball on the ground and win the physical battles at the line.
That edge may go to the Panthers (4-2, 2-0 WAC) with the injury bug biting Livingston a week ago. The Wolves are down two linemen and linebacker Eddie Avila.
“It’s definitely tough timing and a blow to our depth,” Gonzalez said. “But we have guys that have been preparing to go all season, that now get the opportunity to step up.
“I told the kids all week there are three keys if we want to win. We have to have a good week of practice. We’ve got to be mentally tough and we have to play both halves. If we do that, we should be in it.”
Snapp said Pacheco needs to step on the throttle, especially after cruising over El Capitan 70-24 last Friday.
“Livingston is coming in a confident team,” Snapp said. “They’ve bought in to what coach Gonzalez is preaching and have played very well.
“They’ve come back from double-digit holes twice now, so even if we get up, we have to keep pushing because they believe they can get back in it. We’re going to need to control the football and tackle much better than we did a week ago.”