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This group of Livermore seniors always heard the talk. They always dreamed of being the ones to do it.
For years, Livermore was the doormat of the East Bay Athletic League. After 3-0 non-league games, it would struggle to win anything the rest of the way in one of the state’s – and country’s – toughest leagues.
Players on this year’s team were in the stands for those games. They sat in the right side of the bleachers, watching some of the best teams come in and face the hungry Cowboys, who could not quite pile up the victories like they had hoped.
But, this group wanted to be the ones to change the trajectory, and everyone knew they could when they were young.
“Before we got here, growing up we always heard in youth football with each other to playing in the schoolyard we’ve always had a sense that we could be a special group, so it’s really nice to be able to see all the work paying off and all the years put into this paying off,” said Livermore senior tight end Matthew Polaski.
Four years ago, Livermore beat Granada, signaling that maybe a change could really be coming.
That season, Livermore was guided by head coach Ryan Partridge, who in his one year at the school provided an electric campaign before going to Liberty – where he won a state title – and then coaching in the college ranks at Ferris State and now the University of Arizona.
Livermore went to the second round of the playoffs in 2016 – a time senior quarterback Shaun Smith remembers vividly, back when he was an eighth grader.
“It was one of the best feelings,” Smith said. “I was in the stands watching. It was such a great environment. I knew I wanted to be a part of that, and we’re looking for that this year.”
As those kids funneled their way into Livermore, the culture really changed, and the winning happened.
This 2021 class went 9-1 on the freshman and junior varsity levels. And then, once they reached varsity, that’s when it began to take shape in big ways.
John Wade – formerly the head coach at Dublin and Miramonte – took over.
“These guys, on top of everything, they care about the kids more than the game,” Polaski said. “No matter what they’re doing, they’re always trying to put us in the best position to succeed. Whether it’s breaking down film for us, drawing up plays for us, doing everything they possibly can to just make us the best athletes, but also the best people off the field. I cannot give them enough credit for how much work they out in and how much they really care.”
The 2019 campaign featured Livermore’s best season in multiple decades, compiling a 6-5 overall record – its first winning record in the MaxPreps era, which dates back to 2004 – and finishing in second place behind Amador Valley in the East Bay Athletic League Valley Division.
While that was special, these seniors, this coaching staff and the entire program anticipated more.
“Coming off 6-5, it wasn’t where we wanted to be, but it was still we were happy with 6-5, but not content with 6-5,” said Livermore senior linebacker Eli Nuddleman. “We just had to come at it with, ‘We can’t be 6-5. We’ve got to be undefeated.’”
Well, the Cowboys certainly built on that and have changed the trajectory of Livermore football forever.
There’s a 3-0 record. Wins over both Pleasanton schools – something that hasn’t been accomplished in years. The defense allowing a combined 20 points through three games, including a shutout in last weekend’s 42-0 victory over Dougherty Valley.
Things are uh-changing.
All of that was seen in the offseason, too, as despite the offseason being dragged on and a season looking more and more grim, nearly all of Livermore’s players showed up to every practice.
“It’s really special,” Polaski said. “It speaks volumes. It really goes to show how much the coaches care about us and want to keep us coming back and how much the players have bought into the system and really just wanted to get this thing going no matter how long we had to wait. It really speaks volumes to how much we care.”
Today, the entire community is rallying behind Livermore.
Cars drive by and honk their horns. Countless people backed Livermore’s players in the Let Them Play movement.
They all want their Cowboys to win an East Bay Athletic League title, as they aim for their first banner in nearly 30 years.
“In this community, so many people just love high school sports and they’re willing to fight for it,” Smith said. “It’s been awesome. We’ll be practicing and people will be driving down the street and we’ll hear the horns honking. It really gets us pumped up because we know the city is behind us when we play these games.”
My stepson, Daniel Crisp, was a Senior and the starting quarterback who threw to beat Granada and led the team to the 2nd round of the playoffs, after returning from a torn ACL and meniscus that ended his Junior year against the very same team a year earlier. After surgery, intense rehab and unwavering guidance and support by Coach Ryan Partridge, our boy came back stronger than ever and had the Senior year of a lifetime, reclaiming his spot and leading the team to the 2nd round of the NCS playoffs! We were so grateful to have Coach Partridge come in and create such a pivotal moment for our boy and the team. It’s exciting to see that momentum continue with this group of players, despite the challenges they’ve faced. Go Cowboys!! 💚💛💚
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