The Pierce High varsity football team was in a tight battle with Esparto for more than half the contest between the two schools last Friday, but the Bears offense got rolling late in the game and lifted them to an emphatic 35-6 victory.
“We started a little slow, but we picked ‘er up,” Pierce head coach Don Friel said after the win.
A few weeks ago, Friel said that his squad needed to be more efficient passing the ball this season. While he promised that they wouldn’t be “changing their DNA” and would still be a running football team, he said that when the Bears did pass, they needed to make the most of their opportunities.
So far, so good on that front: The Bears followed that very formula on their way to their win over the Spartans.
As promised, the Bears ran the ball in Esparto last week, as Pierce’s triple-option attack rumbled its way to 282 yards on the ground. And, while the Bears threw the ball only seven times, their passing game was notably efficient. The Bears completed 5-7 passes (71 percent) for 126 yards and a score.
“We didn’t throw it a lot,” Friel said after the game. “But our passing attack, when we did throw the ball and we had time — we looked good.”
In addition to being efficient, the Bears’ passing attack was explosive. Nearly half of the Bears’ yardage through the air came from a single play in the third quarter, during which quarterback Dutch Kalfsbeek hooked up with Cole Travis for a 61-yard touchdown.
The play proved crucial for the Bears. While Pierce went into the half up 14-0, Esparto had just started gaining some momentum in the early goings of the third quarter, cutting Pierce’s lead to 14-6.
Kalfsbeek and Travis stole that momentum back from the Spartans shortly thereafter with the big play.
“That long pass really broke their momentum as they were starting to mount a comeback,” Friel said.
It was all Pierce from there. The Bears would go on to score twice more, and would keep Esparto out of the end zone for the rest of the game.
Kalfsbeek had two rushing touchdowns to go along with his score through the air. Raphael Delgado also scored twice on the ground for Pierce as well. The Bears finished the game with 408 total yards of offense, with a total of six players getting carries.
Pierce (1-0) will host a Hamilton (0-1) squad, which fell to Colusa 41-0 last week.