This could be a breakout year for Pleasant Hill football.
The Roosters are bigger, stronger and more experienced than in previous years, but putting the pieces of the puzzle together is not an exact science.
Against Grain Valley on Sept. 15, the defense played well as Pleasant Hill sought to avenge a road loss last season, but the offense was shut out during a 21-0 loss in Missouri River Valley West Conference play at Eklund Field in Pleasant Hill.
“Defensively we played well, but our offense just couldn’t get going,” Pleasant Hill coach Greg Smith said. “We could never find a rhythm until late in the first half. We didn’t get a first down until late in the second quarter.”
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Despite the anemic first-half offense, Pleasant Hill only trailed 13-0 late in the second quarter and almost managed to breakthrough in the closing seconds before halftime.
The Eagles’ Taylor Huwar intercepted Roosters quarterback Blake Atkins near the goal line, thwarting Pleasant Hill’s best scoring threat.
“We did a hurry-up and went to spread them out and the quarterback (Atkins) made some good decisions,” Smith said. “We came back to it in the second half but weren’t able to find that same formula again.”
Pleasant Hill’s defense held strong in the third quarter, forcing a Grain Valley fumble on fourth-and-goal and giving the Roosters’ offense one more chance to get back into the game.
Senior Alex Moore knocked the ball from Eagles quarterback Tate Collum’s hand and John Hays recovered for the Roosters.
“It was fourth-and-one and we were expecting a run,” Moore said. “We had a front where we had seven on the line of scrimmage. I was just heads up looking for the ball. You don’t really think about it happening. It’s the spur of the moment and you rely on your instincts and go get it.”
The Roosters, who took over at their own 22-yard line, weren’t able to convert on the opportunity.
Grain Valley (3-2, 1-0 MRVC West) tacked on a fourth-quarter touchdown to finish off the victory.
Despite the loss, Pleasant Hill (2-3, 0-1 MRVC West) remains fourth in Class 3 District 7, entering another conference battle Friday versus fifth-ranked Oak Grove.
“They are always a tough, physical football team,” Smith said. “We have to correct our mistakes and get back to the grindstone. We are a better team than we were tonight.”