Trotting off for half time, up 14-7, not many inside Tracy High’s Wayne Schneider Stadium would have predicted the offensive avalanche that was about to occur after the break.
Not many with the exception for the Bulldogs team and coaching staff. They went off the field optimistic and got right to work. After making a few adjustments on both sides of the ball, the ‘Dogs put the pain on the visiting Pacheco Panthers. The final score read 41-7 Tracy.
“It was an attitude adjustment for the most part,” Bulldogs head coach Jeff Pribble told the Tracy Press after the game. “I think that sometimes kids don’t understand that it’s a four-quarter game. So, we made proper adjustments.”
The hosts put 27 unanswered points onto the scoreboard in the second half and breezed towards their fourth straight win to start the season. Tracy did not concede a single first down after the interval.
Pribble was delighted with his team’s attitude to the adjustments because, after all, they were winning and had the game under relative control — despite allowing the Panthers’ lone touchdown of the game right on the cusp of half-time. The ‘Dogs took the constructive criticism on the chin and came flying back out of the gates with a newfound purpose.
“It was nice to see us respond like that,” Pribble said. “A few adjustments on offense, a couple more on defense and (that performance) was more what we were looking for. Very proud of the way we reacted. The coaching staff did a good job, the players responded well, I’m very proud of my program.”
The Bulldogs’ rushing game was relentless on what was a stuffy Friday night in Tracy. Initially, the visitors put up a good fight. But even the strongest material crumbles eventually and the Panthers did just that in the face of 32 total team carries by the hosts.
18 of them belonged to junior back Tommy Hayes. Replacing the injured senior Mason Meyers, Hayes had himself a night. He carried for 114 yards and punched in four touchdowns — really setting the tone for his team.
Hayes opened the scoring for the Bulldogs on their second possession of the first quarter. It was a series during which Tracy did not attempt a single pass. It was just pure domination through the middle, with Hayes completing a total of four carries. Two of them resulted in first downs, the fourth was a seven-yard score.
Despite his eventual success against the Panthers defense, Hayes admitted that the early going of the game was not easy from an on-field perspective. The Panthers were not folding.
“It was looking tough,” he said. “We were trying to just smash the ball right down the middle and it wasn’t working. But we adjusted, went a little more to the outside and that worked out well. By the second half, we just knew what we were doing out there.”
As for his individual performance, Hayes gave the praise to those doing the dirty work in front of him. He said: “I relied on my linemen. I was hoping that they can do their job and if they could, I can do whatever I need.”
Pribble was overjoyed with his third stringers contribution — with a couple of seniors currently down. As a coach, there is nothing better than knowing you can count on your personnel no matter the circumstances.
“We broke on family tonight and that’s what it is,” Pribble said. “These guys understand the next man up philosophy of football. When that happens, we support that player with confidence.”
The Bulldogs being a force to be reckoned with on the ground opened up a few opportunities for senior quarterback Cameron Ross to test the waters in the air. And with the visitors firmly focused on stopping Hayes and co., it resulted in a couple of passing touchdowns to senior receiver Isaac Salinas.
For both plays, Salinas found himself wide open in the end zone, begging for the ball to hit his hands. On both occasions, Ross obliged — first for 11 yards, then for 13. Both of those favorable field positions were earned by none other than Hayes on earlier snaps.
Ross allowed his backs to do the damage this game, completing six of his eight pass attempts for 82 yards and carrying the ball five times for an additional 40.
The play of the game came between the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter. With the clock running down in the third, Ross went for a rare long attempt and hit senior Kurtis Maynor in stride with a 39-yard dime. Back in the red zone, Hayes drove it in for a short yardage score.
That play made it 27-7 Tracy and all but put the game on ice. The visitors were visibly demoralized in the immediate aftermath and as a result allowed the Bulldogs to pamper up the scoreboard.
Maynor had three receptions for 57 yards in the game on offense. On the defensive end, the Tracy No. 5 chipped in with four tackles, including a sack.
The ‘Dogs have been very rigid on that side of the ball to start the season. They have given up just one touchdown in each of their last three wins. So formidable, defense has gradually become their modus operandi. The offense is never off the field for too long.
In another outstanding performance as a unit, senior Darrian Marieiro led Tracy in tackles with nine. There were a total of five Bulldogs with more than four. It was a collective effort.
Marieiro’s enthusiasm when talking about protecting his goal line after the game was contagious. With that, it quickly becomes evident as to why Tracy have been so hard to score on. They embrace the battle.
“I just love playing defense so much,” Marieiro exclaimed with the brightest of smiles. “I’m so happy, it’s so much fun. It feels so good knowing that we can stop teams. That is the biggest thing for us, having that confidence rolling in from every game. It’s a good thing to have in the back of your mind.”
Some of Marieiro’s key running mates against Pacheco were senior Aidan Monarrez with five tackles, senior Damian Money with six, and junior Jake Navas with four. Elsewhere on offense, senior back David Garcia had seven carries for 83 yards.
With the win, Tracy improved to 4-0 on the season and with just one more game — next week at Downey — remaining before the start of Tri-City Athletic League play. Overall, the team is looking good. Pribble is content, but knows there is more to come.
“I’m loving it (team’s start),” he said. “This is what we’ve preached, onoe game at a time. Execute the offense and defense and be sound on special teams. And that’s what we are. So, as far as the three facets of the game right now — I wouldn’t say it’s clicking, but I’m proud of what we’re doing.”
Earlier in the evening, the Bulldogs’ junior varsity team shutout Pacheco in a 35-0 win.