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Pittsburg is where it always envisioned itself.
Before the abbreviated season, the loaded Pirates squad pictured themselves winning a Bay Valley Athletic League championship. They strove for the top after doing just that a year ago, back when they won 11 total games, captured a BVAL title and were the North Coast Section runner-up to De La Salle.
The No. 3 Pittsburg Pirates (4-0) did just that, securing a second consecutive league crown following a 67-8 demolition of the Deer Valley Wolverines (0-4) on Saturday afternoon in Antioch.
Now, they’re hoping for an undefeated season when they face Antioch at 1 p.m. April 17 in the Big/Little Game to conclude the campaign.
“This is what we were meant to do, so we’re really just trying to prepare for next year, the underclassmen and just trying to take it step by step,” said Pittsburg sophomore quarterback Jaden Rashada. “But this is what we should have done, and it happened.
“Glad it happened like this, and we’ve still got one more game to go. At the end of the day, football is football. They strap on their pads just like us. Anything could happen, so I won’t claim that league title until the end of next game. But it was a pretty good accomplishment for the season we had.”
From the very first drive, Pittsburg asserted its will and never looked back.
Deer Valley went three-and-out on its first drive and then had a safety on a long snap on a punt, making it 2-0 Pittsburg. Then, Pittsburg forced another safety on a screen pass in the end zone to increase the score to 4-0.
And Pittsburg’s offense dominated the rest of the way behind an all-around performance from its quarterbacks and everyone who touched the ball.
Rashada – a four-star recruit who recently added offers from Fresno State and Washington State last month – started the offensive scoring on a 22-yard pass to Quatama Massaquoi, extending the advantage to 10-0.
It was one of four touchdown passes for Rashada on the day, who overcame an early interception on his first pass attempt to finish with completions on nine of his 13 attempts for 147 yards.
Rashada’s other touchdown strikes went to senior running back Daytuawn Pearson on a 35-yard play, senior Matthew Quesada for a 23-yard play where both players made incredible plays and then to fellow sophomore and Division I prospect Will Stallings Jr. on a 9-yard score.
“Just short-term memory. Things happen,” Rashada said on coming back from the interception. “Me and my receiver weren’t on the same page on that. We picked it up. He told me he’s got me. I told him I’ve got him. Overall, as a team we just played together and bounced back from that.”
Senior quarterback Eli Brickhandler completed 7 of 11 passes for 165 yards and four touchdowns, giving him a masterful eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. His touchdowns went to Pearson, Quesada, sophomore Keynan Higgins and senior Lamont Fortenberry.
Brickhandler, like Rashada, boasts a couple of Division I offers from Presbyterian and the University of San Diego.
Pearson was an electric performer throughout the contest, too.
Entering with 378 rushing yards, Pearson added 111 to his season tally on just seven carries and also had 57 receiving yards and two touchdowns on four catches.
“He’s crazy because a lot of people – they didn’t know who he was,” Rashada said. “Shoot, me coming in, I didn’t even know who he was, but then he woke me up every practice. Our team believes in him a lot, and he definitely should be playing at the next level. He’s crazy and he’s helped us out a lot in the run game this year.”
Nine Pirates caught passes, led by Quesada’s 71 yards and two touchdowns on four grabs to give him a team-best 271 receiving yards for the year.
Fortenberry recorded 49 yards on two catches. Higgins had 55 yards on his touchdown snag.
“Everything. We were just feeling it,” Quesada said. “Everything today. The defense helped us a lot and getting us the ball back. And we just had to put up points, catch everything out there.”
Pittsburg’s defense also shined, with the only big play it surrendered coming on Deer Valley’s lone touchdown on a 43-yard touchdown catch from senior Richard Felder, who made a couple of shifty moves on the pass from sophomore quarterback Ayanfe Adediran to cut the Pittsburg lead to 30-8 with 6:50 remaining in the first half.
Deer Valley finished with 110 total yards, as Pittsburg made 10 stops in the backfield, intercepted two passes by seniors Areon Williams and Solomone Lolohea and forced two safeties.
Through four games, Pittsburg is allowing 11.3 points per contest and hasn’t given up more than eight in the last two weeks.
“They’ve done a lot,” Rashada said. “I think our defense is pretty overlooked, but our defense has done a lot for us this year. Definitely set the tone, making stuff for us easier, field position. Our defense is phenomenal. I think they really allowed only one play today, but they’ve been playing great all year. Glad that they’re clicking.”
Felder’s 39 yards on three catches was the most for Deer Valley. Junior Thailand Black had 28 receiving yards.
Deer Valley’s season concludes at 4 p.m. Friday versus Freedom. Pittsburg looks to capture an undefeated season, and its seniors are grateful they got a season in and got to achieve something special together.
“That means everything to us, especially as seniors we felt like we were going to not have a season our senior year,” Quesada said. “For those of us who need a season for highlights, like myself, this is a big thing for us in this league and everything.”
Passing: Eli Brickhandler: 7-11, 165 yards, 4 TD. Jaden Rashada: 9-13, 147 yards, 4 TD.
Rushing: Daytuawn Pearson: 7 carries, 111 yards. Kia Green: 3 carries, 59 yards. Will Stallings Jr.: 3 carries, 21 yards. Jaden Rashada: 2 carries, 11 yards, TD.
Receiving: Matthew Quesada: 4 catches, 71 yards, 2 TD. Daytuawn Pearson: 5 catches, 57 yards, 2 TD. Keynan Higgins: 1 catch, 55 yards, TD. Lamont Fortenberry: 2 catches, 49 yards, TD. Quatama Massaquoi: 1 catch, 22 yards, TD. Jamar Robinson: 1 catch, 18 yards. Keionte Guess: 1 catch, 17 yards. Ricky Camacho Jr.: 1 catch, 13 yards. Will Stallings Jr.: 1 catch, 9 yards, TD.
Passing: Ayanfe Adediran: 8-19,92 yards, TD.
Rushing: Cameron Clanton: 7 carries, 17 yards. Ayanfe Adediran: 7 carries, 1 yard. Reginald Hill: 5 carries, 0 yards.
Receiving: Richard Felder: 3 catches, 39 yards, TD. Thailand Black: 2 catches, 28 yards. Ahmad Woodard: 1 catch, 18 yards. Bryson Parker: 1 catch, 5 yards. Cameron Clanton: 1 catch, 2 yards.
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