Sports Zone

Billies suffer first loss, coach remains focused on big picture

PLEASANT HILL – The Pleasant Hill Billies football team has had a magical start to the season. The Billies, winless in 2021, dominated Cottage Grove 26-0 in their opener, then beat Salem Academy (25-10) and Harrisburg (20-14) to start the season 3-0. 

Unfortunately for the Billies, they hosted the Banks Braves last Friday, a team that’s ranked second in all of Class 3A. The Braves would prove far too much for the Billies, stopping Pleasant Hill’s perfect start 42-6. 

“At times we competed hard, and we got lined up, right. There were other times where we just took some plays off, and we’re gonna learn from it,” said Jeremiah Heacock, Pleasant Hill head coach. “We’re going to learn how to compete every play against a really good team. Just learning how to compete every play, because when we don’t, good teams will take advantage.”

Despite the loss, the program is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was this time last year. Heacock is building a culture that’s not necessarily about wins and losses, but instead on competitiveness and teamwork.

“We’re going to compete and then we’re going to play for each other. That’s what it’s all about. Right? If you compete, and you play for each other, you can’t ask for anything more,” Heacock said. “So when the going gets tough, we’re going to stay together. That’s the culture I want. I want people, players, that compete and do it for each other.”

That competitiveness and willingness to stick together was on full display in Pleasant Hill’s game. Banks senior quarterback Christian Lyda and senior wide receiver Jack Lyda would connect on passes of 31, 28, 34, 34, and 30 yards, all in the first half. The 30-yarder would be a touchdown, and Banks led 28-0 at the half.

Christian finished the first half 16-for-20 with 235 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Jack had 6 catches for 157 yards and 1 TD. Pleasant Hill’s offense was unable to do anything to counter the Banks scoring barrage, and the Billies finished with 1 yard of total offense in the first half.

A big halftime deficit against a tough opponent would cause many teams to come out flat or dejected, but the Billies stuck together.

“When you’re down that big teams have a choice. To come out, are we gonna compete, or are we going to give up?” Heacock said. “So I felt positive about it, we had enough guys that came out and competed.”

Pleasant Hill would put together a nine-play, 80-yard drive capped off by a 13-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Matthew Dutton to senior wide receiver Travis Gielish in the second half, but were unable to score again.

As Heacock builds his program from the bottom up, the community reaction has been everything he could have hoped for, he said.

“Nothing but support, it’s been very positive. The families, the community have embraced what we’re trying to do and been really supportive, a lot of celebrations,” he said. “I know that a tough, tough loss like this, it’s tough to celebrate that, but we have a long season and I think that we’re going to stay positive and we’re going to learn from this game and look to next week.”

Next week for the Billies takes place tomorrow, where they will look to bounce back at Elmira (1-3) and stay undefeated in league play.

Billies top performers: Senior QB Matthew Dutton, 8 completions, 71 yards, 1 TD; freshman WR Jacob Neely, 3 catches, 40 yards; senior WR Travis Gielish, 1 catch, 13 yards, 1 TD.



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