Pitman High School’s 47-7 defeat of Golden Valley High School during Friday night’s football game was special for several reasons. Not only were seniors savoring their last regular season game at Joe Debely Stadium and the rest of the crowd celebrating with them the pink spirit of cancer awareness night, but Pride senior Steven Shamgochian, who was diagnosed with autism, scored the final touchdown of the game in a touching moment that brought the stands to their feet.
There was plenty of scoring from the Pride before Shamgochian took center stage at the end of the game, with Pitman tallying 521 total yards compared to the Cougar offense, which was held to just 139 yards over the course of the game.
Pitman picked up right where they left off after their win last week, with a 68-yard scoring drive on their first possession to start the game, capped by a nine-yard carry from running back Antonio Reyes. Reyes would go on to score once more in the game during the second quarter thanks to a 21-yard touchdown run, just minutes after a 24-yard touchdown pass from Pride quarterback Treyton Fair to Denzel Steckwren.
“We kept grinding hard in practice all week to prepare for this game, because every game is a playoff game from here on out,” said Pride running back Jakob Partida. “We’ve got to win every game if we want to make playoffs.”
Partida ran for 166 yards during the game and had three rushing touchdowns – a 57-yard carry in the middle of the second quarter, a one-yard run in the third and a 13-yard rush in the fourth. But, he said, the win was a team effort.
“Everyone was picking up their blocks, and I couldn’t have done it without the O line and my coaches being on me and making me better,” said Partida.
The Cougars were able to score just once in the first quarter, but had no luck later in the game. The Pride defense held Golden Valley to just 28 yards in the second half, creating the perfect set up for what arguably was the biggest play of the game.
Shamgochian has stood on the sidelines of Pride football games since his freshman year of high school, and it was finally his turn to get in the game with just three minutes left in the game. Pitman head coach Tom Tyler planned to let Shamgochian run the ball for a touchdown on the possession’s third down, but a Pride fumble gave the ball back to the Cougars.
Just when the stadium thought Shamgochian’s chance at playing was ruined, Golden Valley forfeited their possession, giving the ball back to the Pride on their own 48-yard line. From there, Fair handed the ball off to Shamgochian, who, with the crowd sheering him on, ran the ball into the end zone for a 52-yard touchdown.
“We’ve been trying to figure out a way to get him in there for a while now, so it was nice to be able to do that,” said Tyler. “It turned out even better when coach Stubbs over there (on Golden Valley) said, ‘Hey man, just take the ball and go.’
“Golden Valley has got some great football player and they’re great kids, too. What they did there at the end was amazing. It just shows that program does the right things and they’re good people.”
Shamgochian’s mom, Amy Shamgochian, said words could not describe watching her son score for the first time.
“It was the most amazing feeling ever. I was prepared that he would be going on the field tonight, but I still can’t even explain how that feeling is,” she said. “Steven’s a great kid, but it’s the Pitman students, staff and coaches that have gotten him to do great things, and we can’t be more appreciative of them for everything they’ve done in the last four years.”