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East Union undefeated in non-league; first since 93
Lancer Joseph Daigle lunges for the stop during second half action of East Union’s 21-7 win over Ceres High Friday. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Pigs are not flying and the cows are nowhere near home.

But East Union High is 3-0.

The Lancers achieved non-league perfection for the first time in 17 years with their 21-7 win over Ceres Friday at Dino Cunial Field.

After the customary postgame meeting at midfield with the Bulldogs (1-3), Lancer players congregated near the 40-yard line in front of the home crowd chanting “3-0! 3-0! 3-0!”

“I’ve been playing here since my freshman year and this is the first time I’ve ever been 3-0,” said EU linebacker Jose Manzano, who recorded four tackles for losses. “It’s amazing, the best feeling in the world.”

Since finishing 8-2 in 1993, they enjoyed just one winning season (1999). Now, EU is three Valley Oak League wins away from doing that. League kicks off next Friday with Lathrop (2-1) visiting Dino Cunial Field.

“Did we hope to win? Or did we know going in and expected it?” Lancer head coach James said. “That’s the difference with this (year’s) team, they expect to win.”

Quarterback Teejay Gordon accounted for 249 of the Lancers’ 271 total yards of offense, rushing for 104 on 22 attempts and throwing for 145. He also scored all of the team’s touchdowns with 17-, 2- and 1-yard scampers. His short TD runs both came in the fourth quarter (6:14, 0:49) to take the lead and secure the victory.

“Everyone’s starting to believe,” Gordon said. “This is the most people I’ve ever played in front of in a while. It feels good. We’re getting East Union back on the map.”

How East Union won was as important as winning itself.

Adversity first struck midway through the second quarter. The Lancers were ready to take a 14-point lead with a first-and-goal opportunity on the Ceres 6. A chop-block penalty moved EU back to the 21, and Gordon’s 21-yard would-be touchdown pass to Robert Vaughn was nullified by a holding infraction.

One delay-of-game penalty later, the Lancers were suddenly on the 38 on third down. An incomplete pass forced them to punt.

“We just had to put that behind us and move on,” Gordon said.

The defense had to “suffer” short-term memory loss, as well.

On the opening drive of the second half, Ceres bulldozed its way to a 4-yard score from fullback Zach Naylor (22 rushes, 77 yards), who capped a 15-play, 65-yard, 6-minute, 9-second series.

Ceres threatened to take the lead on its next drive, getting to EU’s 28 before defensive back Steven Gigli intercepted quarterback Nick Welsh’s pass intended for Matt Cardelli at the 1 with 6 seconds to go in the third quarter.

“That was good for us,” James said. “It was (time to) buckle down and see what we’re made of. They started pounding it and had some success, (so) do we fold up the tent and go home?

“That was our adversity. That was our gut-check.”

The Lancer defense didn’t give up a first down for the remainder of the contest. One Ceres drive in the fourth quarter ended when Vaughn forced Naylor to fumble and Ryan Ward recovered it on the Bulldog 37.

Ward earlier set up EU’s first score in the opening quarter with a blocked punt that Kevin Bolding Jr. recovered.

East Union yielded just 61 yards in the first half.

“Willie Herrera, our defensive coordinator, came up with a good game plan,” James said. “We changed our front up just a little bit from what we’ve been doing. I told him I had all the confidence in the world in him, so run with it.”

James was just as proud of how his coaching staff handled some rough moments on the sideline.

This may sound familiar to Niner fans these days.

“Our (adversity) tonight was when the headsets went dead,” James said. “We brought the (offensive and defensive coordinators) down on the field — no problem. We made a couple of adjustments and battled through our own adversity as a coaching staff.”