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ESCONDIDO – An undefeated start to the season is important to any team, but for San Pasqual it means even more. The ninth-ranked Eagles are 3-0 for the first time in six seasons and have found success two years removed from a winless 2009 campaign.

“It shows that hard work does pay off,” said senior safety Jereke Armstrong. “We have boys that are willing to work. Everyone works hard and puts in an effort together.”

Though San Pasqual’s undefeated start to the season began with a 28-7 win over Valley Center on Sept. 2, its origin dates back to the end of the 2009 season. The day after losing 48-20 at Escondido to cap an 0-10 season, Eagles’ coaches and returning players had a meeting in the weight room.

“We talked about the way things were going to be done and needed to be done and had to be done,” said San Pasqual head coach Tony Corley. “Otherwise we were going to stay making excuses and finding reasons why we didn’t win instead of finding a way to win.”

Corley said players were just as vocal as coaches during the meeting that lasted multiple hours. He also credited the players that are now the leaders of this year’s team with trusting the experienced San Pasqual coaching staff.

“That’s the reason why we’ve seen success, because every kid did from the freshmen up through the juniors that were in that room believed in us,” Corley said.

In 2010, success didn’t come immediately as San Pasqual dropped its first four games. But after beating San Marcos on Oct. 1 to end a 21-game losing streak, the Eagles won three of their final five regular season games and made the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

“We took on a different mentality last season and it has definitely carried over and come through to this season. It makes all the difference,” said senior quarterback Tyler Tony. “We had the passion and the desire to be better and the willingness to do so.”

Armstrong said graduated seniors including Matty Dominguez and Caden Lockwood showed current Eagles the time investment and attitude necessary to succeed on the field. He said that last year’s turnaround served as motivation in offseason workouts during the summer.

“It showed us that it is possible and that we’re a better team this year, so we felt we could push ourselves further,” Armstrong said. “We felt like we could work harder in the summer and we felt like we could work harder during hell week.”

San Pasqual has flown through the early part of the season, beating its first three opponents by an average of 21 points. Offensively, the Eagles are averaging 32.3 points per game running the same offense they have for years – the option.

“This school was built on the option and you can’t really argue with the results, because our offense has been doing a great job and we’re still running it successfully,” Tony said. “It’s hard to stop. No matter what the defense does, we always have answers.”

In his third season under center, he five-foot-nine-inch Tony leads the San Pasqual option attack that has rushed for at least 200 yards in the first three games. While most teams have switched to a spread, the Eagles have kept it simple with an offense now considered rare in San Diego.

“Some teams have certain reads built into their offenses, but as far as true options I don’t think there are any left,” Tony said. “We’re definitely one of the few in Southern California.”

On defense, San Pasqual has held each of its first three opponents to 10 points or less. The Eagles switched from a 4-4 base defense to a 4-3 last season, which allowed seniors defensive backs Armstrong, Mike Aly, Frankie Smith and Mackenzie Hines to be on the field at the same time.

“We’ve been a physical defense this year,” Armstrong said. “We’ve been flying around to the ball, we’ve been making sure everyone gets to the ball, and we’ve been pushing the pile back.”

The Eagles play at fourth-ranked Poway on Friday night. The unbeaten Titans are the first ranked team the Eagles have played this season.

“Poway is a very good football team, so we’re going to find out how good we really are,” Corley said. “There’s no weakness on that team.”

San Pasqual is enjoying its fast start and a spot in the Top 10, but its main focus is a return trip to the playoffs. The Eagles don’t plan on making their undefeated start a novelty.

“It’s going to continue because we’re not afraid of hard work,” Armstrong said. “We know what task is at hand, we know what we need to do to get better and we’re going to do whatever we can to make sure that at the end of the day San Pasqual is victorious and that eventually we become No. 1 in the county.”

Pictured: San Pasqual quarterback Tyler Tony (Courtesy of Lisa Anderson-Hines)

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