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The Piedmont Highlanders romped over an undermanned Fremont High (Oakland) football team, 43-13, in their home opener last Friday, September 4. On a beautiful night for Friday Night Lights football at Witter Field, Piedmont’s offense kicked into gear in the second quarter with three of its six touchdowns.

Gabe Watson lost a fumble on his first carry, but quickly atoned with a 5-yard gain, followed by a signature Watson run – a 42-yard power run into the end zone. It was the first of three TDs on a night in which he rushed for 127 yards.

Fremont briefly tied the score early in the 2nd quarter, but Andrew Meredith answered dramatically with 74-yard kickoff return, showing great moves and field vision while breaking tackles.

Moments later Nick Pacult put the Highlanders ahead with a 2-yard TD plunge to cap a short drive. A high snap resulted in a failed PAT, but Piedmont made good by converting two other two-point PAT’s.

On the next drive, Meredith caught a 43-yard TD pass on a flag route from quarterback Miles Kim as he was hit, giving Piedmont a 21-7 lead.

Nick Pacult, Frank Kossak and Matt Lichens also made major contributions, and Lloyd Ashton made two big catches in the final scoring drive. Of note, every player on Piedmont’s 35-man roster plays both offense and defense, including special teams.

Willis Bird and Frank Kossak were rocks on defense. Bird had some timely stops in the first half and Kossack had seven tackles and a drive-killing sack.

Pacult, a junior linebacker, once again led the defense with 13 tackles and a quarterback sack for a 19-yard loss. On offense, he remains Piedmont’s go-to short yardage runner, with two TD’s on two carries, and a 2-point conversion after his second TD, to put the Highlanders ahead 29-7 at halftime.

Meredith’s play on offense, defense and special teams was huge all night.

“Andrew Meredith has really stepped up at free safety – a key position for us. He was active up the field, and he shut down the pass and their slot receiver,” said coach James Holan. “We’re very excited about him.”

Meredith finished with 5 catches for 118 yards and 4 tackles.

Fremont was led by two outstanding athletes, quarterback and free safety Ronald Ragland and wide receiver/cornerback Javon Murdoch. On a roster of only 17 players, they were the heart and soul of their team. Their first touchdown was a 31-yard pass by Ragland.

In post-game comments, Holan praised his team for better pass protection. “It’s getting better every day. We just want to strive for consistency and keep getting better,” he said.

Holan also commended several interior players for their play on both offense and defense. Spencer Chen had a quarterback sack on the 1-yard line and helped Piedmont have dominant field position in the 1st half. And in the words of Holan, “Chen, Mason Willrich and Christian Turner get better every week.”

“We’re looking forward to another big game at Moreau Catholic and to enjoy their nice new facilities [this Friday]. We hope to get the Piedmont faithful out there in force,” Holan said.


The Highlanders (2-0) travel to Hayward on Friday to play Moreau Catholic. Game times are 4 p.m. for JV and 7 p.m. for varsity.

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