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Players ran towards each other, jumped on each other and rejoiced at what just unfolded.
For years, the Livermore Cowboys were a doormat in the loaded East Bay Athletic League, unable to claim a winning season in one of California’s premier leagues. But now, it’s all a different story for the Cowboys.
Last year, they went 6-5 and claimed their first winning season in the MaxPreps era, which dates back to 2004. This year, they were looking for even more.
And they are doing just that, as evidenced in a dominant showing in a 21-7 victory over the defending EBAL Valley champs in the No. 18 Amador Valley Dons (0-1) on Saturday evening, as the 24th-ranked Cowboys (2-0) shined in all facets to improve to 2-0 and win consecutive contests versus the Pleasanton schools.
“It’s huge. It’s huge,” said Livermore senior tight end Matthew Polaski. “Coming into this season, not knowing if we’re going to get a season, and then going out and beating two Pleasanton teams back-to-back. A Livermore school hasn’t done that since probably the ‘90s, so it’s been a long time. I don’t know the exact time, but it’s been a long time. Huge win for the program. Huge win for everyone, as you see over here. Speechless.”
Livermore senior quarterback Shaun Smith displayed why he’s a dual-threat quarterback who is bound to play somewhere at the next level.
Smith – with offers from Lewis & Clark and Whittier – scored two of Livermore’s three touchdowns in the game, starting it off on a diving 5-yard run to put the Cowboys ahead 7-0 with 6:02 remaining in the first half.
He later took the ball 80 yards untouched to the house, sealing the game at 21-0 with 11:19 left in the third period.
“It was a designed run to the left, and I have the read on the back side, and they bit,” Smith said. “I was like, ‘I’m taking this one.’ I barely remember the rest. I really thought I was going to get caught, but I turned on the jets and made it in there.”
For Smith, it was another big game for the Cowboys’ fearless leader offensively.
Smith had an efficient 10-of-14 showing for 80 yards, adding another 109 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
“No one knows the amount of time and work that kid puts in,” Polaski said. “Every single day, no matter what he’s doing, he’s always putting in work towards the game. To see him put in all that work and see it on the field – I love that kid. It’s great to see.”
And Livermore spread the wealth, as three players caught multiple passes and all three tallied at least 20 yards.
Polaski – a first team all-league selection a year ago who caught 45 passes for 460 yards and seven touchdowns – led the Cowboys with six receptions for 44 yards, including two catches of 12-plus yards and one of 21 yards.
Fellow senior Dylan Prusso brought in three of Smith’s passes for 28 yards, and senior Brandon York had 20 yards on two receptions.
“I have all my weapons,” Smith said. “They mean so much to me. I love throwing to them. We get so much work in the offseason, after practice, before practice. It just means so much to really connect with them throughout the game.”
Alongside the efficient offensive performance, Livermore’s defense came away with critical plays on nearly every possession.
Amador Valley turned the ball over three times, highlighted by a fumble in the end zone that resulted in a Livermore score to make it a 14-0 ballgame in the second quarter.
Livermore held the Dons to 7-of-24 passing and 198 total yards.
“Our defense is unbelievable this year,” Polaski said. “Coming into the offseason, not knowing what our defense was going to look like, to turning around and holding a great team to seven points is absolutely unbelievable. Couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Dons senior Eric Hunter III paved the way for Amador Valley with 74 rushing yards on 14 carries. The college prospect with offers from Black Hills State and Linfield totaled 833 rushing yards and 211 receiving yards in 11 games last season.
Matt Hallgrimson finished with a team-high 41 receiving yards, hauling in Amador Valley’s lone score on a 14-yard catch from senior quarterback Brendan O’Sullivan to cut Livermore’s lead to 21-7 with 1:10 left.
Kai Burgermeister had one catch for 30 yards.
Amador Valley looks to get its first win against Granada at 7 p.m. March 27. Livermore, amidst an incredible start to the spring campaign, aims to add to its special season when it hosts Dougherty Valley at 7 p.m. March 27.
What Livermore wants is a banner to hang up at the end.
“This whole team has bought in,” Smith said. “We preach family. We preach brotherhood. It means so much to us. We’ve all been playing together for so long, and these juniors, it’s the same way with them. They’re all so close, and we just mesh as a team together. We’re bought in. We want this EBAL championship. We want it for the seniors. We want it for the school, for the city.”
Link to Photo Gallery
Passing: Shaun Smith – 10-14, 80 yards.
Rushing: Shaun Smith – 12 carries, 109 yards, 2 TD. Dominic Belluomini – 12 carries, 37 yards. Tanner Lewis – 2 carries, 12 yards. Dylan Cole – 1 carry, 6 yards. Mikai Shepard – 2 carries, 1 yard.
Receiving – Matthew Polaski – 6 catches, 44 yards. Dylan Prusso – 3 catches, 28 yards. Brandon York – 2 catches, 20 yards.
Passing: Brendan O’Sullivan – 7-24, 107 yards, TD.
Rushing: Eric Hunter III – 14 carries, 74 yards. Kai Burgermeister – 5 carries, 19 yards. Jackson Ogolin – 6 carries, 15 yards. Brendan O’Sullivan – 4 carries, -19 yards.
Receiving: Matt Hallgrimson – 2 catches, 41 yards, TD. Kai Burgermeister – 1 catch, 30 yards. Spencer Scranton – 1 catch, 19 yards. Eric Hunter III – 3 catches, 17 yards.
Really enjoyed the interviews. I watched the whole game from Maui. Go Cowboys.
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