Courtesy of Christopher Cross
Madera South running back Mathew Manoz rushed for a touchdown during Friday’s loss to Pacheco in Los Banos.
First-year Madera South football head coach Matt Johnson couldn’t have scripted the start of his Stallions coaching career better.
The Stallions jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first six minutes of the game. However, the offense stalled and the Pacheco Panthers scored 14 points in the second quarter and 21 points in the fourth for a 35-14 victory.
“We had the best start of my football career,” Johnson said. “It was a weird vibe. We played football for almost two quarters and went into the locker room tied at halftime.”
Johnson will chalk up Friday’s game as a learning experience for the Stallions.
“We had a real poor week of practice,” he said. “It was a real great experience for our young guys what will happen when you don’t pay respects to the football gods. We’re making strides. It was a little bit of a tell sign that tells us we don’t know if we’re ready.”
David Thomas started off the Stallions’ scoring with a 34-yard interception return for a touchdown. Mathew Manoz followed with a 10-yard touchdown run and the Stallions took the lead six minutes into the game after two Luis Rivera point afters.
“I’m happy with the performance,” Johnson said. “The effort was there. We had some mistakes.”
Los Banos finally cracked through the Stallions defense and scored a late second quarter touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, the Stallions return team watched the ball fall and roll around the 20 yard line and Pacheco pounced on the ball for possession deep inside Stallions territory.
The Panthers scored to tie the game heading into halftime.
“Our defense was playing lights out,” Johnson said. “Our offense went dead. We had to try to recover at halftime. We have to understand the ebb and flow of the game.”
The Stallions couldn’t adjust to the Panthers defense in the second half and Pacheco scored three fourth quarter touchdowns to put the game out of reach.
“They caught us off guard with their defense. We didn’t have anything to counteract them,” Johnson said. “Late in the game, we panicked and forced some things on offense. Pacheco has a three-year quarterback and runs a triple-option attack. They were better prepared than we were.
“The program is moving along. It’s not going to happen overnight,” Johnson said. “It’s a process that we’re under.”
The Stallions will be on the road, again, Friday in Kerman to face the Lions, who lost 22-21 to defending Div. IV Selma on a late touchdown and two-point conversion.