By John Baker
At this juncture of the season, any improvement is a positive sign for Washington High School head football coach Taylan Plasch.
While the Eagles lost their third straight game to open the season, falling at home 19-6 to visiting Piedmont on Saturday, Plasch said he saw some encouraging signs.
“Last week [a 40-0 loss at Montgomery of Santa Rosa], we were frustrated because we didn’t play a full, complete game,” Plasch said. “This week we played a little better.”
Indeed, Washington (0-3) improved as the game moved along. The Eagles held Piedmont (4-1) scoreless after halftime and mounted a much-better offensive scheme.
“It’s getting better,” Plasch said. “We still would have liked the ‘W,’ but we can say we got better this week than last week.”
The first half, however, was all Piedmont. The Highlanders got on the board first late in the first quarter when quarterback Spencer Kim hit Jake Pacheco with a 33-yard touchdown pass. Piedmont then went up 13-0 on William Meredith’s 3-yard burst through the line with 8:10 left in the first half.
Washington looked as if it had pulled off a defensive coup with a fourth-and-goal stop at its own 3-yard line with 4:49 left in the second quarter. But not only did the Eagles fail to get a first down, the ensuing punt was blocked and the Highlanders got the ball back on the same 3-yard line. Two plays later, Meredith scored his second touchdown and Piedmont was up 19-0 after a failed two-point conversion.
Meanwhile, the Eagles had trouble mustering up any offense. Washington quarterback Simon Ma was sacked five times in the first half, twice by linebacker Kevin Garrett.
“[It was] just reading the play and being able to trust the person outside me to get contained and the person inside me if he cuts back inside,” said Garrett, who eventually added a third sack in the second half. “If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.”
In total, with deductions for sacks, fumbles and other stops behind the line of scrimmage, Washington only managed 50 yards of offense during the game — 30 rushing and 20 passing.
“We have six offensive lineman and three have injuries,” Plasch said. “A lot of them are two-way starters, so they were a little fatigued.”
Finally, Washington got a little traction in the second half. Saadiq Anderson, whose 56 yards on seven carries matched Piedmont’s Kyle Dalton for the game high, broke the longest rush of the day with a 26-yard score with 3:50 left in the third quarter.
The Eagles also improved defensively. Charlie Yip was a defensive force in the second half, recovering a fumble and intercepting a Piedmont pass.
Plasch looked on Washington’s complete shutdown of the Highlander offense after the break as another positive.
“We stayed more focused,” Plasch said. “Last time we had a lot of head drops and it took them a while to get their focus back, but this time we stayed focused throughout the game.”
P: 3:26 – Pacheco 33-yard pass from Kim (Chiodo kick)
P: 8:10 – Meredith 3-yard run (kick failed)
P: 3:42 – Meredith 8-yard run (conversion failed)
W: 3:50 – Anderson 26 run (conversion failed)