The Pleasant Grove Eagles football team breezed through the Christian Brothers Falcons in a 56-12 rout Friday night after an air attack that couldn’t be stopped.
In a game that started out slow and was rained with penalty flags, Pleasant Grove was able to overcome the penalties and move the chains down the field.
The Eagles struck the scoreboard first when senior quarterback Nathan Valencia found senior wide receiver Jacob Couchot for a 30-yard passing touchdown late in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead.
Although Pleasant Grove had a lot of penalties on its first couple of drives of the game, the poise of Valencia didn’t shrug off as he led his team like a captain of the ship.
Valencia said the team motto is to “Row the Boat,” which was instilled by Eagle head coach Matt Costa after they went 0-10 last season and the Eagles now have a paddle on the sideline with them during the game.
“I found the oar at a yard sale and texted coach Costa with the picture and said, ‘Hey, row the boat.’ And that is exactly what were doing right here,” Valencia said.
He added that the entire team signed the paddle and it signified that they are all into turning their ship (season) around 180 degrees.
Costa said rowing the boat started after their season completed last year and he got the idea from one of his favorite coaches to read about, current head coach at the University of Minnesota, P.J. Fleck.
“That was his mantra and it started for us in the weight room,” Costa said. “We went in there and started to row the boat every day and got to work.”
Costa wanted to give credit to both sides of his lines that controlled the plays from the get-go.
“Those guys are incredible,” Costa said.
The Pleasant Grove (2-0) defense gave the Christian Brothers offense problems all night long, whether it was deflecting passes or getting a lot of pressure in the quarterback’s face, they couldn’t be held back.
Christian Brothers eventually switched quarterbacks at the beginning of the second half because of the constant deflected passes and pressure from the Eagles.
Valencia added two more passing touchdowns that included a 42-yard pass to junior wide receiver Elijah Gula and senior wideout Trey Kennedy for 20 yards.
He would find the endzone on his own after an 11-yard touchdown rush with 57 seconds to go in the half and with a 28-0 lead.
Valencia was responsible for six of the eight touchdowns by the Eagles Friday night, and was responsible for seven out of the eight touchdowns last week at Kennedy.
He completed 24 of his 29 passes and threw for 314 yards with four touchdown passes and two touchdown rushes.
Midway through the third quarter and after Valencia found Kennedy for a six-yard touchdown pass, but as he rolled left toward the Christian Brothers sideline, he was hit after the throw and tackled straight to the turf where the Falcons player was ejected for the late hit.
The modest and humble quarterback said the hit didn’t feel good going down, but knew his teammates had his back.
“Everyone came over and told me that they got my back,” Valencia said. “I’m grateful to have the special protection as the quarterback, but if there was a situation where they needed me, I would be right there to back them up.”
The Eagles extended the rout over the Falcons and had a 42-6 lead with just under five minutes to in the third.
Valencia ended his night with a two-yard touchdown rush with 1:20 in the third quarter, which gave him his third rushing touchdown on the season.
After two games in the books for 2019-20, Valencia completed 37 of his 49 passes for 602 yards and 13 total touchdowns.
Although the Eagles were able to overcome the deficits of the penalties throughout the game, Costa said he would like to see his team clean up the penalties.
“When you’re the aggressor, you’re going to get some penalties,” Costa said.
Pleasant Grove has a lot of time to rest and rehabilitate their bodies as they don’t play another game until Sept. 13, where they will host Woodcreek.
“Were going to take it one day at a time and focus on being the best people we can,” Costa said.