The Acalanes Varsity Football team wrapped up their season on Saturday Night vs. California High School. If you like nail biter, high intensity, football games, then this was your game! You would not have been disappointed! Not only was this the final game of the season an intense one, it was also Senior Night! Acalanes celebrated our senior players, cheerleaders, broadcasters and equipment managers, and this ceremony was terrific. This game started out with excitement and boy did it end with excitement.
One of the Seniors who was recognized was Team Manager, Drew Lashinsky – I just wanted to take moment to point out how much Drew means to this team! He covers everything from field needs from footballs to organizing the video equipment (which is not easy feat) and everything in between. Drew is a key player on the Varsity team. Thanks for all you have done for the Football Program Drew!
After the pre-game ceremony – things got underway – Cal High won the toss and elected to kickoff to the home team. After a touchback on the kickoff, the Dons offense, lead by Senior Quarterback Brady Huchingson, took the field/ The Dons first possession looked really good – quick short passes and runs kept the chains moving… then on a fourth and short the Dons did not covert, and California got the ball near midfield. They were able to move the ball down field and scored the games first points with a short pass for a touchdown, and then converted the extra point. 7-0 Cal High.
When the Dons offense got their second touch of the game they were able to penetrate further into Cal’s side of the field, but again the drive stalled and they were left with 4th and long, so Coach Burnsed decided to try for a 30 yard field goal, which normally at the high school level is a large ask of your kicker, but not for Acalanes Senior, Hunter Ridley! Ridley was able to split the uprights with plenty of leg to get the Don’s on the board, 3-7.
The Dons defense was again lead by Senior Joey Carrillo, who recorded 4 solo and 5 assisted tackles and a sack, and Senior Graham Oh, who had 5 solo and 6 assists. The entire defensive unit played with a high level of intensity all game, with 14 different players recording a tackle and 7 players recording a tackle for a loss of yards! The entire unit was swarming to the ball on every play through the last second on the clock. Senior Linebacker Niko Cortessis, who is the last of 7 different Cortessis family members to wear a Dons uniform, brought an extremely high level of energy to the contest and was a motivating example the all the other players all night! They came up with a turnover on Cal High’s next possession, when James Gunn stepped in front of a pass for an interception, and the Dons offense was able to re-take the field. The Dons offensive coordinator, aka Coach Blue mixed up his game plan all evening and did his best to keep Cal High’s defense guessing on every play. Brady Huchingson connected with multiple receivers, and ended up 21 of 42 pass attempts for 288 yards through the air! Senior Wide out Sam Hayman made a couple of clutch catches to keep drives alive.
The Dons found themselves with a 4th down on the 14 yard line,still down 7-3, so they brought the kicking unit out for another field goal attempt. Special Teams coach Mark Vincenzio noticed that the Cal High defense rushed everyone in an attempt to block the first field goal the Dons made, so with that insight, he had a trick up his sleeve and served up a flawless fake. Getting ready to kick, Quarterback Brady Huchingson pulled the ball up and hit Junior Wide Receiver Evan Malmquist in the end zone for a touchdown, the Grizzlies did not know what happen. But the Dons were making it happen with the score of 9-7 for the Dons.
The Dons Defense had some trouble stopping Cal High and they marched right down the field and scored the go ahead touchdown right before halftime giving the Grizzlies the lead Cal 14 -Acalanes 9.
The Don’s offense racked up 452 all purpose yards during the game and held the advantage in the time of possession. The Defense, on the other hand limited Cal High to only 254 yards! The Dons defense stuffed Cal High on their first possession of the 2nd half, and when the Dons got the ball back they immediately matriculated the ball down the field, and capped off a nice drive with a spectacular catch by Evan Malmquist in the back of the end zone for his second touchdown of the game, moving the Dons ahead of the Grizzlies, 16-14. For a good as the Dons defense played, Cal High kept coming back… they were able to score another touchdown on their next possession, 21 Cal to 16 Acalanes.
When Acalanes got the ball back they mixed things up, Senior Tailback Nic Rossi carried much of the load, pounding the ball down the field. Rossi had 20 rush attempts on the night for 63 yards. Brady then hit Junior Wide Receiver, Dante Mongomery in the end zone for the go ahead score , 22 to 21. -After the ensuing kickoff / touchback, Cal High had the ball on the 20 yard line with less than 2 minutes to go. The Grizzlies were able to drive down to about the Acalanes 25 yard line and lined up for a field goal attempt with two seconds on the clock (repeat two seconds) . The kick was up,plenty of distance but slide wide left….Acalanes holds on for the WIN!
What a great way for this team to finish the season! Special thanks to all the coaches, players and parents, who made this short season happen. Congratulations to the entire team for a great season!
Stay tuned because next season starts in about 7 weeks and first game in 122 days!