Eisenhower caught some tough breaks over the course of a season that didn’t always go as planned, but it couldn’t have ended much better Friday night at Zaepfel Stadium.
As usual, the Cadets leaned heavily on workhorse running back Damien Pacheco, who fought to hold back tears after the final game of an impressive high school career. But his teammates all did their part as well to help Eisenhower beat Davis 48-7 for its third straight win in the rivalry.
“These guys have really, really fought back and came from some pretty low places,” Coach Gary Jimenez said. “There was just two years in there where (Davis) got us, and these guys decided enough was enough and kind of re-asserted our program.”
They snapped a three-game losing streak to finish 4-6 overall and 2-4 in league play. But Jimenez felt they deserved better, and he said a schedule featuring games against Hermiston (Ore.) and Coeur d’Alene (Idaho) probably represented the toughest nonleague slate in the CBBN.
Jimenez credited his players for always fighting hard every game, with no one more emblematic of that mentality than Pacheco. He surpassed 100 yards in each his last five games, capped off by a 230-yard, four-touchdown performance.
Pacheco needed 31 carries to become the first Yakima Valley back ever to reach 300 carries in a season, for an average of 30 per game. It looked as though he would hit the mark easily after he ran 22 times for 142 yards before halftime, battling cramps in his calves but never showing any weakness.
He showed that mental toughness all year, knowing he couldn’t let down his teammates. Jimenez told his all-senior offensive line last spring they would be expected to open up holes for a run-heavy offense, and they responded for an offense that averaged more than 24 points per game.
“I can’t do it without my linemen,” Pacheco said. “They’re a big part of this. I love those guys.”
A 1-yard touchdown run put Eisenhower ahead 41-7 with less than a minute left in the third quarter and gave Pacheco 230 yards on 28 carries, although he would have reached 31 by that point if not for multiple holding calls on a penalty-filled night. Coaches decided to leave the senior in for one last drive, but quarterback Drew Kornegay stole the spotlight.
He found Pacheco for a 14-yard reception and a hard hit along the sideline led officials to send him to the sideline, even as he gave coaches a thumbs up. After backup tailback Demario Morgan’s first rush of the night, Kornegay hit Malachi Spurrier in stride for a 39-yard touchdown pass.
Although Pacheco expressed some frustration upon learning he’d left the field for the last time, it didn’t last long. Jaiden Corbray intercepted a pass late to complete one of the defense’s best games of the season, and players gave Jimenez a celebratory ice bath as the final seconds ticked away.
“We made the adjustments that we needed to make and it was really nice to see that, just to play clean defense,” Jimenez said. “I’ve always thought the kids had a lot of potential on that side of the ball, just too many mistakes and too much sloppiness.”
Davis hardly moved the ball after scoring on its opening drive thanks to a perfectly executed catch and throw from Peter Ramirez to Tyerai Walker. The Pirates’ 7-6 lead quickly disappeared when Drew Reyes took an end around 86 yards down the sideline for a touchdown on Ike’s next offensive play, returning the momentum to the Cadets for good.
Eisenhower 20 14 7 7 — 48
Davis 7 0 0 0 — 7
Ike — Damien Pacheco 1 run (kick failed)
Dav — Tyerai Walker 48 pass from Peter Ramirez (Estevan Gonzalez kick)
Ike — Drew Reyes 86 run (Thomas Oplinger kick)
Ike — Pacheco 1 run (Oplinger kick)
Ike — Drew Kornegay 26 run (Oplinger kick)
Ike — Pacheco 13 run (Oplinger kick)
Ike — Pacheco 1 run (Oplinger kick)
Ike — Malachi Spurrier 39 pass from Kornegay (Oplinger kick)
RUSHING — Eisenhower, Pacheco 28-230, Reyes 1-86, Kornegay 4-42, Demario Morgan 4-39, TEAM 1-(minus 1). Davis, Jorge Martinez 11-59, Angel Amezola 10-40, Ramirez 6-20.
PASSING — Eisenhower, Kornegay 11-18-0-194. Davis, Ramirez 6-7-0-79, Amezola 4-14-2-34, .
RECEIVING — Eisenhower, Reyes 4-69, Pacheco 3-55, Spurrier 2-48, Will Yocom 2-22. Davis, Walker 4-59, Gonzalez 2-28, Martinez 2-17, Miguel Ceja 2-9.