Christmas in July: Will ‘CIF Claus’ Bring Good News or Something We Just Do Not Want?!

Christmas in July:  Will ‘CIF Claus’ Bring Good News or Something We Just Do Not Want?!

What if Christmas doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more! Like a football team on a field and the Dons with a Big Score!

The NBA is aspiring to host a bubble season in Orlando with COVID-19 and a 113 page rule book stuffed with health protocols. College campus are welcoming back their football players, as they slowly gear up for the Fall season. In Iowa things are different for young athletes. Iowa was the first state to resume high school athletic competition since COVID-19 shut down all high school play in mid-March. At least a hundred games are scheduled each day throughout Iowa with most teams playing doubleheaders.

A packed house at Acalanes

How Much Longer Must We Wait? Please, Santa Don’t Be Late!

What’s clear is that high schools are trying to keep hope alive about resuming high school sports this fall across the country.  Teams have started workouts, then stopped, then started again and  that’s precisely the kind of situation CIF (the California Interscholastic Federation)  has said it wants to avoid. A decision on when the high school sports season might return is expected by July 20. California State high school sports organizations and administrators have never had to work so  hard or make tougher decisions.   The murky wait-and-see that has gripped high school sports since the start of the mid-March COVID-19 pandemic could get some clarity in the upcoming weeks.

While Visions of Sugar Plums, Touchdowns, Tackles and Victories Danced in their Heads

CIF, (the California Interscholastic Federation)  the state’s governing body for high school sports, announced that July 20 is its cut-off date to determine if the season will be altered. “As our member schools begin planning for the reopening of school,” part of the release read, “the CIF, in collaboration with our 10 sections, will be determining by July 20 if fall sports will continue as currently scheduled.” get updates at:

There is also Facebook page dedicated to NorCal high school football parents called Allow High School Football in 2020.  Facebook parents engage in an intense debate over football. Will the country’s most-watched sport be played this fall? And if so, how? Parents vent their concerns, worries and share different scenarios of the football season roll out: Start in October or January? Play in the Spring? A shortened season? Basically, many parents are feeling it will be a coin flip whether football is played at all. Again, CIF will roll out their sports requirements/recommendations on July 20 and Acalanes will digest and pass guidelines around July 22 or 23.

No Matter What I Get for Christmas Football is All I Really Need!

What will it take for high school football to return to California in 2020? Right now, that’s the million dollar question and every possible scenario is on the table. But what about the players?! What about our Dons?! What are our Dons feeling as they ride the football roller coaster?!

Spreading Christmas Don Cheer!

Joey Carrillo #70 is a Senior on Varsity team and is one to watch on the Varsity team this year. He is a force on the Dons line. Joey’s younger brother Trevor is a Don and plays on the Freshman football team. Like a good brother, Joey has been working out with him during the football Covid-19 hiatus to have them both ready for summer football. So, Carrillo never stopped working out, he is in great shape. Yet, the summer heat can be strenuous at practice, but that just adds in a good sweat. MaxPreps notes that Carrillo averages 5.3 sacks per game. As like many Dons, Carrillo is anxious to play football and knock some people around. Adding the last year’s JV team to the Varsity squad is a good thing. Joey confidentially stated, Our class [2021] is already really good and the class of 2022 that we gain is undefeated, this will make a great season.

Victor Nicolasakis is a Sophomore on our JV team. Restricted practices are not ideal, but Victor looks at the positive in it, I am enjoying how I get to leave the house for an hour and get a workout whether it is beneficial for the football season or not. I am always looking to perfect myself and work hard. Workouts are tough but they are getting easier as I work out more and get back into shape. Victor wants to be ready for this season, because he knows it is going to be a great JV season with majority of the Freshman team returning to play football under the leadership of Coach Greg Young. Nicolasakis proudly talks about his team, we are very good, we work hard, we have discipline and know how to execute under a great coaching staff. Victor continues to talk about the Dons coaches, all the coaches at Acalanes at every level and great. They are great and teaching us, and pushing us while still being able to have a conversation and have fun with.  They don’t abuse the “coach” power and make it very easy to talk to them and have established and great relationship with their players early in the season.

Anthony Ortale is a Junior on our Varsity football team, he plays Defensive End and Tackle. Ortale is one tough cookie, it is fun to watch Ortale wreck havoc on the opposition, as his mom Sonia cheers proudly from the stands for her man in Blue. He is loving the summer football training, I’m enjoying able to practice again especially after missing out Spring football. Ortale gives a shout out to his coaches. Dons coaches are enthusiastic, caring, positive, organized, encouraging, respectful, approachable, smart, and  knowledgeable, he adds,  I like how much they care about making sure we are practicing to the best of our ability. Ortale is looking forward to a winning season for the Dons because of three things: Work, Ethic and Talent. Ortale wants football to happen as well as his mom. Ortale wants school to happen too, I miss being away from school for so long, I miss going to school five days a week.

Dear Santa, We Want it All!

Jane E. Smith, Football Booster Rep 2020-2021



Our well regarded Girls and Boys tennis team Coach Drew has been busy on the courts helping students improve their tennis game. The clinics provide a small group setting to get lots of coaching attention for technical stroke work, point playing tactics and lots of muscle memory drill work to fine tune your game. Contact him to inquire about availability to join in on the socially distanced fun for the next series of camp clinics.

The 3 Week Camp
Dates: July 6th – July 24th, Monday to Friday
Time: Now 1pm-4pm 
Max Participants: 12

The 2 Week Camp
Dates: July 27th – August 7th, Monday to Friday
Time: 9am-12pm
Max Participants: 12

Tentative Girls Varsity & JV Team tryouts are August 11-13th. Email Drew to join a mailing list distribution of important information.

Dons Football is Back: Bigger, Better and 100% Won-DON-derful!

Dons Football is Back: Bigger, Better and 100% Won-DON-derful!


What a year it’s been. Surely not one that any of us had planned for or expected. As we slowly move towards reopening and getting back to some sort of new normal, it’s important to focus as much as possible on positive experiences for our young men.

The Acalanes coaches, Andy (Touchdown Club) and Jane (Sports Booster) have said, Acalanes has a long history of football excellence. This is not only reflected in the win/loss column, but more importantly in the way it has molded the incredible players who have come through the program over the years.

The truth is, there really is nothing like the camaraderie and brotherhood of football. Other sports try to replicate it, but there is nothing like suiting up on Friday night and going to battle with your brothers while your friends and family cheer you on. Football is an intense sport that requires dedication, toughness and most importantly teamwork. Every single player plays a critical role in the success of the team, from the first summer workout through the last game of the year.

So let’s be thankful for the opportunity that we may have taken for granted before, with the start of summer practice this week, and truly appreciate the joy it provides our boys during this time of uncertainty. As Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights said many times, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose”.  Are you ready? Are you psyched? Then GO DONS!

Jeff Julian, Proud Acalanes Football Parent

Congrats to Our Seniors: It’s Kick Off Time!

Congrats to Our Seniors: It’s Kick Off Time!

Are You Ready For Some Football Graduation?  

We know you are Football Seniors! You leave your mark as  2019 DAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS on the Acalanes Field Forever!

It is time for you to tackle new goals, new dreams and new victories!

Dear Seniors, You are in the process of finishing a course you began years ago when your parents enrolled you in kindergarten to begin your educational journey.  Your journey has included growth in many areas.  The academic challenges met, the social skills developed, and the physical growth seen, are all a part of the bigger picture of the educational process.


You participated in Acalanes football  for a variety of reasons.  You may have loved the challenge.  It could be you liked the camaraderie of being on a champion team.  Perhaps you were highly skilled and received a lot of recognition for your efforts.  Maybe being on a team was just fun and thrilling, but whatever the case, you participated and were subject to learning all of the discipline and principles that being involved in football teaches. Football is more than just a game; it teaches lessons that the players carry with them long after they’ve hung up their cleats. Teamwork, discipline, perseverance, goal-setting, time management, selflessness, motivation, handling success and moving on from failure top the long list of lessons. Acalanes football also gives each athlete special memories, lifelong friends and coaches who truly care about each one of you.


As a graduating senior athlete, you have been challenged to set your goals high, stretch yourself, and to be industrious in all that you do.  You have also been taught that football  is a preparation for life and what you learn from being on a team is a microcosm of life.  The things your coaches taught you about life are about to begin making sense.  You will soon see what they meant, and you will be grateful.


Acalanes football has  played an important role in your educational process. Coaches, teachers, and parents have finished their task of training you.  Take what you have learned from all of them and make a smooth transition into “the rest of your life”.  We wish you the best! Your football family will be cheering for you!

-Dons Love from Your Acalanes Football Family

Once a Don, Always a Don!

Good Luck Dons of 2020!

Rolling out the ‘Blue’ Carpet to Welcome the 2020 Frosh Football Dons to AHS!

Rolling out the ‘Blue’ Carpet to Welcome the 2020 Frosh Football Dons to AHS!

Question: Do you know what the worst part of football is? Answer: When the season ends!

Freshman Brothers 2019

Welcome to Acalanes Football! I am Jane, your Football Booster Rep for Acalanes Sports Boosters and a proud Football parent! And if your son is kicking off with Acalanes Football as a freshman…HE IS GOING TO LOVE IT !

HEY-HEY-HABAS! Andrew Habas -2019 Coach’s Player Award winner

Freshman football and high school athletics, in general, are a huge benefit to anyone willing to give them a try. Football creates a special bond. This is because it’s a sport where you cannot hide. You might be doing great until a play knocks you down. As a football player, you don’t get up alone you have your team with you.  They know what it feels like to get knocked down, because it has happened to them.  This mutual understanding builds a bond like no other.  This bond leads to accountability to each other as a team.

Football is the ultimate team sport. To win, you need all the parts and pieces to work together. There is definitely no I in team. Every single position in football is important. Every single one, from the center, to the kicker, to the offensive line. If the ball is not snapped correctly, the quarterback will not get it. If the offensive line doesn’t hold its blocks, our quarterback will be sacked, which means he can’t hand the ball to the running back or pass it to the wide receiver for the touchdown. Eleven different people must be working toward a common goal, each doing their part to the best of their ability.

Together we fight! Together we win!

The one big benefit of playing freshman football is the friendships made in the summer before school even starts. Just a few weeks with your new teammates will cement friendships that will make that first day of walking on campus even better than it would be otherwise. All incoming freshmen are nervous and unsure of themselves, but football kids have an extra 40+ friends from the team walking onto the AHS campus with them.

The 2019 Diablo Athletic League Co-Champions

Question: Are You a Mom That is Worried About Your Son Playing Frosh Football? Answer: No need for that! You are in great hands with a stellar coaching staff!

We are not ‘cougars’…WE ARE PROUD DON MOMS!

My oldest son was a freshman last year. When he expressed a desire to play football, absolutely I was a tad freaked out. But that did not last long. As a tackle football mom virgin, there was a great deal I didn’t know about the religion that is high school football. Floyd Burnsed is amazing football leader along with JV Coach Greg Young and Frosh Coach Bill Hansen. Safety and the well being of each player is the #1 concern for all the coaching staff at Acalanes. They spend countless months, days, and hours on the field and off, helping our children to become the best they can be. The coaching staff gives the teams direction and motivation to help them reach their goals. They have a plan, they are organized and they find a way to encourage the team to believe and work together. Fact: AHS Sport with my most concussions last year was NOT football. The bottom line is the benefits far outweigh the risks in football. Safety #1!

With Frosh Coach Bill Hansen and the coaching staff, your freshman son is in good hands! The boys on the Frosh team will be more than teammates. They will be brothers!  Games are exciting and the boys will grow right in front of their proud parents cheering them on in the stands. I have so many GREAT freshman football memories that still bring tears to my eyes. Here are my top 5:

1.The First Touchdown of the season! Boy! This is exhilarating for the players and the parents! Actually, I have two #1 favorites. Toby’s first touchdown too. Toby came to play in Game 4 of the season for his first game as a Don… First kick of the game is kicked directly to Toby and he scored a touchdown on the kick return within 5 seconds. Spectacular!

2. When the Frosh team wears their pads for the first time. It’s a big! It’s cool! They are so proud to be a Don and wear that uniform with the pads! Every Dons football player is proud to wear blue!

3. That single moment you watch your son make his first tackle or sack the QB or an interception or score a DONS TD . The announcer says your kid’s name on the sound system for all to hear…then your son turns to the stands with his smiling eyes, they meet your eyes from up in the stands. Chills! Every Dons football parent is proud to wear blue!

4. Hard-working boys. Come August…they have learned that if you want something in life, you have to work hard to get it. Wins don’t come easy. You have to shed sweat and tears. (Oh yeah moms- get ready because hard work smells, your son and his uniform!)

5. The parents. Cheering and screaming for every Don the field! It is a special group and a great way to start the school year. When the season is over, it is seriously a downer to not be with your football family.

Any questions about Sports Boosters, please give me a call 760 777-3430 or email me, GO DONS!

Jane E. Smith – PROUD DON MOM & Parent Football Rep 2020-21

Learn more about Acalanes Football and the Touchdown Club on the link below

Welcome to the Family!

Cross Country Team Shines at NCS … on to State!

Cross Country Team Shines at NCS … on to State!

The Varsity Cross Country team had a great showing at the North Coast Section (NCS) Cross Country Championships on Saturday, November 23rd.

The boys team took 2nd place and are heading to State on November 30th. Nicole Frigon was a state qualifier as well! Outstanding effort by all – congratulations!!

Perfect. Lady Dons Win State, Finish 27-0

Perfect. Lady Dons Win State, Finish 27-0

The Lady Dons saved their best for last to deliver a thoroughly dominant performance and defeat Sacred Heart Prep 10-2 in the Final of the CIF Division 1 Regional Championship played at Independence HS in San Jose. The win meant the Dons finished with a season record of 27-0, extended their win streak to 54, and became the first NCS team to record back to back undefeated seasons. Their opponents, #2 seed Sacred Heart Prep Gators, arrived at the final as CCS Champions with an undefeated record in league play and an overall record of 26-3 (their 3 losses all to the Dons).

A large and noisy crowd had gathered in San Jose for the finals and Dons supporters were in good voice, displaying their blue colors prominently. After the introductions and anthems were over the Dons swam over to take final instructions from Head Coach Misha Buchel and assistants Pat Reid and Chris Lanier. The tension was evident as both teams started nervously and looked to work an early opening. As the first quarter progressed the Dons began to gain the upper hand with their offence exerting more and more pressure while their suffocating defense was clearly frustrating the Gators. The deadlock was broken when Mary Beth Heffelfinger set up Jewel Roemer to score with a strong shot and then, as Sacred Heart began to tire, goalie Ava Donleavy threw a perfectly weighted pass to find Jewel Roemer breaking fast down the center to score. It was 2-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Jewel Roemer Fires Away

The second quarter began in the same fashion with both sides showing strong defense. Back and forth the adversaries swam but the longer the contest went on the stronger the Dons looked and counter by counter the Gators were tiring. The depth of the Lady Dons bench had always been a strength and now it began to show as the Dons were able to rotate and keep fresh swimmers in the water. Sophomore, Heidi Heffelfinger, took advantage to score the next two goals, first turning strongly after a pass by Alana McCartney had set her up and then breaking fast onto another long pass from Donleavy. Sacred Heart was wavering but they refused to give up and came back with a goal of their own to make it 4-1. However, the Lady Dons were in ruthless mood and rather than allow the Gators back into the game, they stepped it up to score another goal from Roemer and then deliver a dagger blow at the buzzer with a powerful shot into the corner from Brooke Westphal. At half-time it was 6-1 to the Dons.

The third quarter continued with the Dons oppressive defense closing down and frustrating the Sacred Heart offense while the Dons continued to create opportunities at the other end. Claire Rowell scored with a strong shot off an assist by McCartney, then McCartney scored one of her own before Mary Beth Heffelfinger added a third goal for the quarter after a fast break. The Gators were struggling to live with the Dons fast paced attack and when the Gators tried to build an attack of their own the Dons were all over them, blocking shots, intercepting passes and stealing possession with Alex Mould, Caroline Schirmer and Jewel Roemer at the heart of the Dons defensive efforts. After three quarters it was 9-2. 

In the final quarter the Lady Dons were able to relax and play out time. Roemer scored one last goal and the seniors, Mary Beth Heffelfinger, Mala Neuman, Jewel Roemer and Brooke Westphal came in for the final few minutes as the Dons cruised to a 10-2 victory. The final buzzer sounded and it was time for the coaches to get wet as the whole team celebrated in the pool, including injured senior Zoe Benisek who ruptured her ACL five games into the season.

Coach Misha Buchel Goes for a Swim

In the game Jewel Roemer scored four goals with others from Heidi Heffelfinger (2), Alana McCartney, Mary Beth Heffelfinger, Claire Rowell and Brooke Westphal. Alana McCartney made two assists with others from Claire Rowell, Alex Mould, Heidi Heffelfinger and Mary Beth Heffelfinger. Alex Mould made three steals with others from Caroline Schirmer (2), Alana McCartney, Heidi Heffelfinger, Jewel Roemer and Brooke Westphal. Jewel Roemer made three field blocks with others from Caroline Schirmer and Alex Mould. Claire Rowell drew three exclusions with others drawn by Alana McCartney and Jewel Roemer.

Lady Dons Polo Advance to D1 State Championship

Lady Dons Polo Advance to D1 State Championship

The Lady Dons continued their march to the CIF NorCal Championship Final with a comprehensive victory over the Davis HS Blue Devils on Thursday evening. In doing so, they took their season record to 26-0 and extended their winning streak, going back two years, to 53.

After starting slowly in the last few games, the Dons came ready to play and quickly got on the scoreboard with a deftly taken goal from Claire Rowell with what is becoming her trademark no look backhand, assisted with a pass in from Alana McCartney. Davis quickly pulled one back, but the Dons went further ahead when Mary Beth Heffelfinger pushed in a loose ball after a shot from Alex Mould was blocked by the Davis goalie. Another goal from Mary Beth Heffelfinger followed and then Jewel Roemer stole the ball from her opponent and cruised in on goal before putting the ball beyond the reach of the goalie. Davis managed to stop the flow with a goal of their own but the Dons finished the quarter strong with another goal from Rowell after a precise cross cage pass from Caroline Schirmer. It was 5-2 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter the Lady Dons moved through the gears and took total control, stifling the Davis attacks and scoring more goals from Rowell, Roemer, McCartney and Brooke Westphal. At half time it was 9-2 and the contest was as good as over. The second half proved to be low scoring with just one goal in the third quarter when Roemer scored after breaking fast and being found with a long pass from goalie Ava Donleavy. In the fourth quarter the Dons rotated through their squad and scored two further goals from Roemer and Heidi Heffelfinger. The final score was 12-3 putting the lady Dons through to the final on Saturday. Jewel Roemer scored four times with further goals from Claire Rowell (3), Mary Beth Heffelfinger (2), Alana McCartney, Heidi Heffelfinger, and Brooke Westphal. McCartney made two assists with others from Schirmer, Mould, Alexa Carter, Heidi and Mary Beth Heffelfinger. Rowell, Mould and Roemer each made two steals with others from McCartney, Mary Beth Heffelfinger and Elle Forschler. Ava Donleavy made five saves and Audrey Cox one.

The Dons will play for their first ever State Championship against Sacred Heart Prep at Independence HS in San Jose at 3.40pm on Saturday.

Girls Water Polo Cruises to Easy First Round State Victory

Girls Water Polo Cruises to Easy First Round State Victory

Following the emotion of an NCS Championship on Saturday evening the Lady Dons returned to the Acalanes pool on Tuesday for a first round match in the CIF NorCal Division 1 Championship and to defend their unbeaten record. The NorCal Championship is for the best high school teams in Northern and Central California and the Lady Dons are seeded one. Notably, this is the Dons first trip ever to the NorCal Championships. They were also seeded #1 last year but fires and smoke cancelled the tournament so this is unfinished business!

Their opponent, the number 8 seed, St Francis HS Lancers from Mountain View had qualified by making the semi-final of the CCS Open Division Championship and arrived with a 19-8 record. After the noise and intensity of Saturday’s final everything seemed a little flat, and that was how the Dons started. In a first quarter of stray passes and fluffed shots it took more than 3 minutes for the first goal and to everyone’s surprise it was the Lancers who struck first. The Dons seemed lackadaisical and Coach Misha Buchel called an early timeout to reset the team’s energy. The break had the desired effect with the Dons looking sharper and goals from Claire Rowell and Jewel Roemer put the Lady Dons in front at the end of the first quarter, but not before they had contrived to miss a penalty shot and a number of other chances. If the Lancers were thinking they had an opportunity for an upset their hopes were to be quickly dashed in the second quarter as the Lady Dons found their rhythm and scored seven unanswered goals from Mary Beth Heffelfinger (2), Claire Rowell, Jewel Roemer (2), Heidi Heffelfinger and Alana McCartney. It was 9-1 at half time and the game was effectively over.

In the second half the Dons took the opportunity to rotate the squad and give everyone game time. Goals from Alana McCartney and Caroline Schirmer made it 11-1 after three quarters. Further goals from Alana McCartney, Heidi and Mary Beth Heffelfinger gave a final score of 14-2. Alana McCartney, Mary Beth Heffelfinger and Jewel Roemer all scored three goals with other goals for Heidi Heffelfinger (2), Claire Rowell (2) and Caroline Schirmer. Mary Beth Heffelfinger made three assists with others from Jewel Roemer (2), Claire Rowell (2), Alana McCartney, Emma Miller, Caroline Schirmer and Alex Mould. Alex Mould made three steals with others from Alana McCartney (2), Caroline Schirmer (2), Emma Miller and Brooke Westphal.

Next up a semi-final against Davis HS at 5pm on Thursday 21st November at Acalanes!

Girls Tennis: Eliza Bates wins historic NCS Singles Championship, a first for Acalanes Girls Tennis!

Eliza and Coach Drew

Eliza and her teammate Jasmine Toni qualified to compete in the NCS championships for singles. The 2 day tournament was played at Mill Valley Tennis Club. Jasmine won her opening round 6-2 7-6 , but fell to the# 3 seed in her second round. Eliza competed at a very high level to win her semi-final match 6-3 7-5 against senior Sophie de Groot from College Park. She faced senior Solia Valentine from Berkeley in the finals. The first set started poorly with a quick few games against her, but Eliza fought back to even things up and then played very solid in the tiebreaker to take the first set 7-6. Eliza then took her game up a notch and didn’t drop another game to finish 6-0 for the championship. Congratulations girls for representing Acalanes well. One for the record books! The tournament has been played with a girls’ division since 1977 and this is the first time a champion has come from our school! The boys’ division started in 1915 and only 3 boys from Acalanes have won in the years 1995, 1966 and 1960.

First Girls NCS Champion from Acalanes EVER! 40+ years of tournament
Eliza and Jasmine Class of 2021