The Pittsburg High football team put forth one of its best efforts of the season Nov. 9 in a 55-29 win over Monte Vista in the first round of the North Coast Section Division I football playoffs.
Now the Pirates have to be even better.
With the victory over Monte Vista, ninth-seeded Pittsburg earned a quarterfinal date with No. 1 seed and perennial powerhouse De La Salle on Nov. 16. The Spartans have won 20 straight section titles, and beat the Pirates 48-0 in the Division I semifinals last season.
Going into the quarterfinals this season, though, the Pirates -- who have won four straight -- are running the ball as well as they have all season.
Harris Ross ran for 269 yards and four touchdowns against Monte Vista, which beat Pittsburg 44-14 just months ago.
Pittsburg ran for 427 yards and had eight rushing touchdowns, making it five straight games it has rushed for at least 300 yards.
Ross stepped in strongly for injured standout back Jamal Lockett, who limped off the field following an 8-yard run in the first quarter.
"Oh man, awesome," Pittsburg coach Victor Galli said of Ross after the game against Monte Vista. "He's been coming and coming. He's just a junior. I'm really excited to see what he's gonna do next year."
The Mustangs, after trailing 33-7 at halftime and 39-7 in the third quarter, scored two quick touchdowns to make a game of it. Jalen Avery scored on a 54-yard interception return, and then the Mustangs recovered an onside kick. Zack Chang cut the deficit to 39-21 on a 4-yard touchdown run.
The Pirates upped the lead to 45-21 on a game-clinching 51-yard run by Ross.
Pittsburg rushed for 224 yards and five touchdowns in the first half. Ross had touchdown runs of 80 and 54 yards in the first half alone, and Craijon Menefee scored on runs of 1, 7 and 10 yards.
The Pirates scored on their first two possessions, then things quickly starting getting out of hand when Cameron Heath intercepted Zamora and returned it to the Mustangs' 1-yard line. Menefee scored on the next play.
Monte Vista was held to a first down on its next possession before the Pirates' Nehemiah Lopez blocked a punt.
Four plays later, the score was 26-0 on Menefee's 7-yard run. Monte Vista cut the deficit to 26-7, but the Pirates struck again on a devastating 80-yard run by Ross.
Staff writer Matt Schwab contributed to this story.