No Friday night lights? No chants, no cheers, no superstitions? No standing up for the kick-off and no high fives after every touchdown? No team meals. No checking the weather on Monday to prepare for whatever climates we will sit in come on Friday. No Dons shirts, no Acalanes Football hats. No looking for parking in the parking lot. No snack shack with the smell of BBQ and popcorn in the air. No blue #1 foam fingers. No Stanley kids hanging on the fences, watching the Big Dons play. We are left to find a way to entertain ourselves during the fall instead of having a built-in plan in place. We wait…we wait…we hope…we wait…. to hear the pre-game chant from Coach Burnsed telling his team, ‘It’s a great day to be a Don!’
But the countdown has begun for the first scrimmage game in December with a big blue circle on December 30. We will continue to be strong, and resilient. We will eagerly await the sound of the whistle, the smell of the BBQ in the air, the knock of the shoulder pads, and the roar of the crowd. On this day, we will have our boys in their uniforms on. On this day, the Dons will return, and the Boys of Blue will be back on the field. We love Dons Football so much! In this week we will fluff up our blue pom-poms, pull out the folded up booster club bleacher chairs in the garage and heck, we might even dry clean our favorite Acalanes shirt to have it crisp, clean and ready to go! Look at your watches, take a look at your iphone…count it down to December 30. When Acalanes football returns, we will appreciate it more than ever….because everyday …IT’S A GREAT DAY TO BE A DON!
Don Moms eat, drink, think live for Acalanes football. When Friday night rolls around Don Moms are prepping for the game: Dons swag ready to go, resting up for cheering, eating a good meal for energy and fired up to hit the stands. Moms are a crucial part of any high school football. We love our Football community. We love how it brings us all together, regardless of age or what grade or what team, together we root for something we all love-The Dons! Moms LOVE Dons Football because the game itself is truly a TEAM effort led by the most amazing coaches! Watching these coaches bring all the boys together to literally become a family is an amazing thing to witness as a Mom. The leadership that the coaches teach our Dons is definitely character building with a strong foundation for these young men. We value the coaches. We value the dedication. We value competition. We love a good win just as much as our Don. Dons Moms bring their ‘A’ game!
Dons Football? It’s got everything that makes high school a special moment in time: energy, school spirit, smarts, competition, social bonding, camaraderie…Most of all because it brings our whole community together like a FAMILY -Ann Huchingson
I miss coming together and rooting for our team. Yes, I’m a loud mom and I’m proud -Brenda Rossi
Dons Moms are a rare breed. We wear the Dons hat, sweatshirts, and t-shirts, and Acalanes blue nails and blue wigs when needed. Somewhere between their first MOL football game in elementary school and the first high school game, you became thatDon Mom, and you wouldn’t have it any other way. We scream, yell, get heated, and love every second of it.We love being part of the Dons community because of the camaraderie we share, and the pride it instills in our boys.
We love football because it gives our Dons something we can’t give them alone. We love Don’s football for the sense of belonging it has given our sons. When the Benken family moved to Lafayette the start of Jake Beken’s sophomore year. They new it would not be easy moving to a new high school. Jake’s mom, Kendal encouraged Jake to join the team so that he could meet a few boys and know some people before school started. He was welcomed with opened arms! Kendal adds in, The Don’s football team is such a great group of boys! Parents should be really proud of your sons. They are kind, inclusive and encouraging.
Football gives them the experience of working as a team and of what it means to depend on the people around them and to feel the thrill of the win and the heartbreak of defeat—life lessons you learn best when you live them yourself. It’s exhilarating, fun and awesome to watch our boys play their hearts out. When you debrief after a game, you listen and teach as only a number-one mom-fan can do. Through sports and your guidance, you’re teaching your children the importance of being a team player, playing and acting selflessly. Dons Moms are their kid’s biggest fan, and the truth is, you should be! And your Don knows it. That is how Dons Moms roll!
I not only miss the game, and the determination that our kids show, but I really miss my fellow Moms! – Liz Oh
Our football community can’t imagine a Fall without football, we are suffering from a case of culture shock with covid taking away football and trying to figure out what to do on a Fall Friday Night?! For now the football lights do not shine, the Dons hungry to play games and the moms crave to cheer on their Dons. I miss feeling close to my son—he knows I’m out there watching the game and supporting him, and it makes me feel like we have a connection, shared Laura Bergman. I miss the cool Friday nights in the stands and the energy of crowds keeping me warm. I miss seeing my son rise up and conquer goals with his teammates, his friends at his side, added in Ami Rowland. It is so true, Don Moms are missing the energy, spirit in the stands on Friday Nights, the feeling of community and the thrill of a Don’s victory.
Anyone can be a football mom, but ACALANES FOOTBALL MOMS take it to a high level. We asked a few Don Moms what it takes to be a REAL Football Mom:
A “real” football mom cheers on the team in the stands, understands the game, and makes sure that their son’s uniform is clean or as clean as can be before the next football game –Angela White
A ‘real’ football mom is to maintain a balance of them while staying grounded and not losing sight of the importance of academics-Gilly Malmquist
A ‘real’ football mom yells louder than the ref’s whistle, loves when the other team’s quarterback is sacked for a lost of 15 yards, hugs and five highs when the announcer yells TOUCHDOWN ACALANES and Dons sweat is her favorite perfume on a Friday night! –Jane Smith
A “real” football mom is one who isn’t afraid to make a fool of herself in a blue wig for the sake of team spirit! -Jennifer Michlitsch
A ‘real’ football mom knows the rules of the game and comes dressed to games with ACA swag! –Anna Epppinger
A ‘real’ football mom is Passionate (ie air horns at the Marin Catholic game), fun loving, and Always there for hugs (win or lose)-Liz Oh
A ‘real’ football mom wants the best for our boys and we support them no matter what -Laura Bergman
FIERCENESS. FIRE. FEROCITY. PASSION. Absolute LOVE for our DONS sons! These are the descriptors that comprise the captivating TEAM SPIRIT of ALL Acalanes DONS MOMS! Our DONS PRIDE WILL NEVER FADE OR DIE!–Gail Pearson
A ‘real’ football mom has equal parts support, love, fear, and tolerance for smelly equipment-Ann Huchingson
A ‘real’ football mom loves the kids first and foremost and loves our school and community-Brenda Rossi
A ‘real’ football mom supports her son 100% whether that is yelling her head off, making sure his uniform is clean, listening to him retell each play, or reminding him it is always about the game and the team , not whether you win or lose. I am so proud of my DON! –Marianne Brent
A ‘real’ football mom has friendships that are made in the bleachers, that are irreplaceable. The closeness, our collective cheers, and the pride we all feel for our boys on the field-Sarah Carrillo
A ‘real’ Football Mom realizes that no matter how much bleach you use in your laundry, your son’s “white” pants will always be grey forever-Melissa Murphy
A ‘real’ football mom has a multifaceted job. Our role is to at times lead the charge (rides, home, schedules, meals, family stuff) but most of the time our function is in the backdrop. Being a support system is my goal and here’s how I do it: Always cheer on the team whether they’re winning or losing, talk about the positives, and have fun- Dolorez Dumas-Aris
And you thought coaching high school football was all about Xs and Os, blocking, tackling and making sure these kids begin to learn something about what it means to be young men . That’s all true. But Coach Bill Hansen wants the Freshmen players to remember something about the year besides the final scores, the big plays…and that is friendships in brotherhood.
The biggest benefit of playing freshman football is the friendships made in the days before school even starts. Just a few weeks with your new teammates can cement friendships that will make that first day of walking on campus even better than it would be otherwise. The Freshman football head coach sets the tone to school and rolls out the red BLUE carpet for the new Dons.
Covid as we know changed up rolling out the blue carpet. Covid has taught Coach Hansen to be a more patient coach. There are always things we can not control and Covid is a obviously a new one. The Freshman coaching staff have learned to take it one practice at a time and to value each practice. Coach Hansen and Freshman coaches only have a very limited time with our players each week and need to make each practice count. Coach Hansen shares: We had to think outside the box and find new ways to practice – not being able to use equipment (including a football) was a challenge but we adjusted. The players benefited in a few ways. Having smaller groups has benefited the players by getting more individual attention. By not having contact we have spent more time on the fundamentals which improves them having a solid foundation. Players have had more time to learn plays both for offense and defense. What I am seeing is more players a whole are learning.
This 2020 Freshman group is a large, a total of 52 strong, eager and enthusiastic Dons. This is the largest group Coach Hansen has ever coached. Based on the Freshman coaching staff input and Coach Hansen‘s observations – talent wise – this could very well be the very best freshman team in the school’s history (insert fireworks exploding here). I hope we get to have a Freshman season, because it will be fantastic! It will be up to them to find the leaders this team needs to take this team to a league championship when they become Juniors. If this group can stick together there is no doubt they can be successful a team. But it will be up to them to decide what they want. They must decide if they want to put in all the hard work and long hours necessary to become a winning and a championship team, proudly states Coach Hansen.
Before Coach Hansen became freshmen head coach, Coach Young (JV head coach) and Coach Hansen coached the freshmen together for seven years. Coach Young praises Coach Hansen : In eleven years, I’ve never met a coach who cared more for the players than Bill. He cares about their family life, education, and self–esteem. He’s the real “Dad” of the program. The program, especially the players, are so lucky to have him. Some people call him Coach Hansen, but his fans call him Big Daddy.
Coach Hansen graduated in 1980 ‘from that school in Moraga’ and played under Head Coach Dan Hagan. He also played under Gordon Finn, at Del Valle High School prior to its closing, as linebacker and fullback. Bill continued his football career at Cabrillo College in Aptos as a linebacker and graduated from California State University, Sacramento. Coach Hansen is in his seventh year as a coach at Acalanes with the previous five as defensive coordinator at at the freshman level. This is his second season as the freshman head coach.
Coach Hansen and the Frosh Coaching Staff want to share this message to the Dons Football community:
With or without a season – this team is a WINNER!!!
We miss you!! We hope that we can all be together as a team, a family and a community soon! The boys are working so hard, with possibly no end in sight. We all know that’s difficult and each and every one of them has stepped up. They’ve made all of the coaches so proud. My coaches and I would like to let each and every parent (especially the Moms) know how much we all appreciate the trust you’ve put in us in these uncertain times. Football is a tough game, but this year has been unique to say the least and we know how scary this can be and letting us coach your boys for a few hours a week has been a real honor.
Before games, in the stretching line, Coach Young would walk down and hug every single player telling them that they would do great and that he loved them. This would really make a connection between the player and Coach Young. Players know Coach Young was going out of his way to let us know he believed in us: #4 Evan Malmquist, Running Back/Line Backer
Covid can not stop the JV Football Dons, especially not with Greg Young leading this crew. In late August, Coach Young was asked about covid and football: I believe they’ll never take their high school sport or high school for granted. Our J.V. team is really working hard and driven to improve and succeed. In small part it’s maturity, just due to this time in their lives. In my heart, I think the maturity comes from the fact that they’ve lost so much, over the last six months, they’ll never take anything for granted. For most of them, they’ve lost one-fourth of their sports careers. Going forward, they’ll work hard not only for themselves, but for each other.
Last year’s JV went undefeated with atotal of 343 Acalanes points (this is not a typo, 343 is the correct total) and 18 (this is not a typo, only 18 that’s it!) points for their opponents. Out of nine games, seven were shutouts under the leadership of Coach Young. Coach Young carries more than just a clipboard with him on the field. He carries an abundant amount of passion for his Dons. Just ask powerhouse Anthony Ortale, offensive tackle and defensive lineman, who was part of the 2019 undefeated team about Coach Young: I believe Coach Young goes above and beyond with us. He reaches out, ensures all of us that we are enjoying the sport while making sure we are passionate and working to the best of our ability. My favorite coaching quality is how much he cares. There are coaches that coach football, but Coach Young coaches football while caring for us and having passion while coaching us.
From top to bottom, Coach Burnsed has put together a rock solid staff on all three Dons football teams (Varsity, JV and Freshman). Regarding the J.V. staff with Coach Young gives praises to Randy Henderson, who has been on the Dons football coach squad for five years. Coach Young shares: Randy is not much of a self-promotor, he’s kind, smart, and I believe the most underrated coach on the staff. He has a keen and focused offensive mind, and should be a head coach!Coach Young and Coach Bill Fraser have known each other for nearly twenty years, and this is their fifth year coaching together. On the field, last year was Coach Fraser ’s first experience as the Defensive coordinator. In nine games, The Dons gave up gave up 18 points, including seven shut-outs. In five games, the Dons did not give up one point in league! Off the football field, Coach Fraser is a contributor to the Lamorinda community. Coach Fraser was a MOL football organizer and leader for years, and is now head coach of Dons Ladies Lacrosse.
Even though the Dons have not practiced together as a whole, Coach Young can see the big picture: We’ve set a goal to be undefeated, perfect, and I believe this team loves the game of football, and each other so much, that they’ll compete to a level, they never would have achieved, if not there had been no pandemic.
You want your son to be coached by this man because your son will learn more about life from the inspiration of Coach Young. Here is how Coach Young explains it in one word: Competitiveness. Make no mistake, football is a war. Every play is a battle, and you are a warrior out there. In 10,000 years of genetic human history, villages were made up of hunters & gatherers. The best hunters are the Warriors. They represented the village, something battling for their freedoms, if not their lives. Football players are modern day warriors, representing Acalanes and Lafayette. They may not be fighting for freedom, but they are fighting for respect, confidence and self-esteem, for themselves and their team. In order to succeed in this arena, you better hate to lose. If you do lose, pick yourself up, and battle again. It truly is a microcosm of life, and a tremendous life lesson. If you’re not competitive, or accept losing, you’re in the wrong sport! describes Coach Young.
Maybe the 2020 JV Dons have not put on their pads and their uniforms are not dirty yet…touchdown high fives and knocking down opponents are on hold for the moment. But for now, Coach Young and the JV staff are still making a difference for our Dons… Never underestimate Coach Youngand his JV Football Dons!
In 2017 when Coach Burnsed joined the Dons family, AHS quarterback Robby Rowell (now a quarterback for the California Bears) stated, “Coach Burnsed is a legend around Lamorinda”.
When you have over 40 years of coaching football, you have a coach with knowledge, a level-headed approach and experience. Our Acalanes varsity coach has all that and more. Throw in other adjectives like passionate, focused, positive, friendly, approachable and cooler than ‘Joe Cool’ that is Floyd Burnsed.
There are many qualities that encapsulate Coach Burnsed, he is a calm but inspiring leader who can help us keep our heads straight in a crazy game, and focus on the task at hand, #14 Graham Oh, 2019 & 2020 Varsity Running Back & Middle Linebacker
A long-time Vallejo resident and football coach, Burnsed established himself as one of the top high school coaches in the nation by compiling a 154-62-2 record while winning 10 league championships and four North Coast Section championships. Burnsed was named Contra Costa County “Coach of the Year” three times, 1983 Champion “Coach of the Year”, the San Francisco 49ers 1996 “Coach of the Year”, the San Francisco 49ers 2019 “Coach of the Week”, and the North Coast Section “Coach of the Year” in 2000. He was inducted into the Miramonte Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018.
When the Friday Night Lights illuminate across 94549, everyone convenes at Acalanes for the event of the week, Varsity football! Burnsed and his Dons pour it all out on the field in an effort to prevail. Don fans pack the stands to support and cheer on student-athletes. There’s a genuine love and desire to see the team and players do well.
I knew Coach Burnsed believed in me when I got my first start of the season, #8 Brady Huchingson, 2019 & 2020 Quarterback
Acalanes football has always been about building a solid foundation for a young person’s life, based on principles and experiences that can only be taught through the game. It’s about cultivating genuine relationships between players, coaches and a community of fans and that is what Coach Burnsed does so very well.
There’s nothing like Acalanes football!
But this year as covid dominates our lives, classrooms are quiet, hallways vacant, our football bleachers sit empty and the excitement of Fright Night Lights is put on hold as our community misses the blue magic on our football field. We asked Coach Burnsed what did you do last Friday night? I was watching two high school football games on ESPN, wishing that our players could’ve experienced the same thing. Yet, the covid pandemic does not stop Burnsed’s coaching or developing his Dons. The pandemic has taught Burnsed how important it is to have a strong, efficient varsity coaching staff: We are in groups of 12 players and coaches have to stay with one group. It has been great to have a staff that is willing to put in the time to ensure our players have a great experience. I’ve also learned that we have to be able to cope, and live with, things that are beyond our control.
WE ARE PROUD OF OUR VARSITY-2019 DAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS!
Our first Dons football game is four months away. The California Interscholastic Federation, the governing body for high school athletics in the state, announced in July a modified schedule for its sports due to the covid pandemic. Coach Burnsed has taken advantage of this situation for better coaching with his staff, Burnsed shares, fortunately football is a sport in which a great deal of practice is spent in position groups. We are able to really teach a lot of technique to each position. I think each player has benefited greatly from the practices and has been a great release for them with everything going on.
Coach Burnsed goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the Dons are prepared for Friday nights, with countless hours of film study and schematics instruction to simulate real-time game situations. Game knowledge and skills development is one of the essential parts of the game. Though the understanding of the game and expertise can be gathered through playing and observing skills developed through perseverance and arduous practice, and then Burnsed puts it all out on the field. What is happening in Burnsed’s head before the kick off? I am thinking about the game plan, trying to anticipate how the game will unfold. Our opening plays are scripted so I replay those in my mind a few times. The Dons might be on the field for two hours every Friday night, but Burnsed is working with an around-the-clock effort.
My favorite Burnsed quote is “Hurry Hurry Hurry!” #5 Niko Cortessis, 2019 & 2020 Varsity Wide Receiver & Linebacker
Many coaches serve as educators, mentors and more importantly, positive influences on many players, this is one of the strong attributes to Coach Burnsed. His vision in leading the program is to prepare athletes for the field, in the classroom, and as young adults. High school and football not only serve as learning experiences and opportunities to improve, they should also create enjoyable and memorable moments for each athlete. Coach Burnsed is proud of each young man who plays for the Dons. When asked what makes a great football player Burnsed replied, First of all, a good football player has to be coachable, believe in the system and care about his teammates. After that, we look for dedication to the sport, athletic ability and his work ethic to become a better athlete.
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!
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!
Question: Do you know what the worst part of football is? Answer: When the season ends!
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 !
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.
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.
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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…
It seems like it all went so fast, yet it all started back in the Summer before the boys were even technically Acalanes Students. They have come so far in such a short period of time, thanks to great coaching and a commitment to Dons Family. The Frosh Dons ended up averaging over 100 yards per game on the ground with 12 TDs, and over 188 yards per game through the air with 24 TDs. Consistency on the line was a big factor in offensive production, with Tyler Murphy, Miller Smith, Lex Jung, Nathan Kim and Marcus Julian starting every game. Nine different players carried the ball over the course of the season, Tobias Schwing leading the way with 348 total yards and 6 TDs, on a Heisman-worthy pace of 11.6 yards a carry. RBs Ben Foox, Kaleo Feinberg and QB Kyle Bielawski also chipped in with rushing TDs over the course of the season. Eight different players caught passes over the year, including two from QB2 Luke Dulik and one from Jake Takeuchi on a WR pass. Ethan Torres was the home run king, averaging 28.13 yards per catch with a team long 74-yard TD. Theo Stoll, Andrew Habas, Jake Takeuchi and Tobias Schwing also added TD receptions in addition to Ethan. Defense developed a bit slower, but in the end 30 kids ended up with at least one solo tackle, led by Strong Safety Coco Gannon with 21. The Dons’ D also had five picks, two each by Mason Michlitsch and Andrew Habas and one by Nikko Woodson, and 27 sacks, led by Miller Smith, Tobias Schwing and Tyler Murphy with five each.
Offensive MVP: Kyle Bielawski #9
Cool Kyle Bielawski, led the offensive juggernaut this year, throwing for 1,466 yards and 24 TDs with a 61% completion percentage. Kyle also carried the ball 49 times (most on the team) for a 4.78 yard per carry average and rushed for 3 TDs. Throughout the season Kyle was a steadying influence, running the offense with efficiency and at high speed, standing tall in the pocket, hitting receivers in stride, buying time when it was needed and not being afraid to pull it and run when the opportunity arose.
Defensive MVP: Tyler Murphy #62
Tyler “Braveheart” Murphy was a disruptive force on defense, collapsing opponent’s offensive lines and making lives miserable for the visiting QBs. Tyler led or tied for the lead in fumbles recovered (2), fumbles caused (1), tackles for loss (9) and sacks (5). His tireless push moved the line of scrimmage and many times forced teams to double him, allowing the Dons’ other defenders to run free and make plays in the opponent’s backfield.
Special Teams: Theo Stoll #13
Theo “Theopedo” Stoll was a terror to opposing defenses all year. All up he scored 11 TDs, including 9 on Kick Off returns with a per game average of 35.75 and a long of 90 yards. He also led the team in punt returns averaging more than 19 yards a return with a long of 28. Every time Theo touched the ball, the crowd erupted as he juked and sped across the field leaving a myriad of defenders in his wake, rarely stopping before he hit paydirt.
Special Teams: Andrew Huchingson #2
Andrew “Clutch” Huchingson, showed amazing improvement over the course of the season. From his tentative first few kick offs and extra points, to the booming blasts of the second half of the season. Huch ended up 5 for 7 on extra points, with no opposing Kick Offs returned for TDs and two expertly executed onside kicks recovered by Acalanes.
Most Improved: Tyler Worthington #5
Tyler “Shark” Worthington may have taken a few games to find his sweet spot, but once he found it as Nose Tackle in the middle of the defense, he made up for lost time quickly. Even though he only started a little more than half the games at NT, he led the team in Fumbles Caused (2) and finished 3rd in Tackles for Loss with seven. In probably the toughest game, Tyler fought through illness to continually penetrate and disrupt the Campolindo offense, with numerous big plays to stymie the Cougars.
Coaches Award: Andrew Habas #18
Andrew “Hey Hey” Habas was electrifying from the beginning of the season all the way to the end. Whether it was returning kick offs, catching slants over the middle and taking it to the house, or snagging pick sixes while dropping into coverage, Andrew scored in pretty much every way imaginable this year. His ten total TDs was augmented by an extra point, and included the longest TD of the year, a 91 yard Kick-Off return for a TD. Unofficially he also led the team in TDs called back, including a long return in the last game of the season against Alhambra.
In front of a packed Senior Night stadium at Acalanes, the Dons rolled to a 56-7 victory over Alhambra, finishing league play with a 3-1 record and most importantly a share (with Campolindo and Las Lomas) of the league title – the Dons first football title in 40 years! It was a particularly special night for the team’s seniors, who began playing in the Dons program as freshmen when Coach Floyd Burnsed came to Acalanes.
Junior quarterback Brady
Huchingson was outstanding all night, completing 7 of 10 passes for 280
yards and five touchdowns (that would be an NFL passing rating of 152.1). Huchingson added a rushing touchdown to
finish with six TDs.
Senior defensive back Nick
Giorgianni was around the ball all night, recording two interceptions. His first pick started the Dons scoring, returning
the interception 34 yards for a touchdown.
Giorgianni had a third interception that was called back due to a
Senior WR/CB Nick Pearson
had big plays on both sides of the ball.
Pearson caught a Huchingson pass at the 50 yard line and ran it home for
a 75-yard touchdown. Later, he had an
interception at the 10 yard line to stop an Alhambra drive.
Four senior Dons receivers
had touchdowns. Along with Pearson’s TD,
Jack Muren had two TDs (9 and 71 yards), Lucas Eppinger had a 87-yd
touchdown (with most of those coming after the catch as he weaved his way
through the Alhambra defense) and Ryan Reilly had a 24-yd TD reception, beating
an Alhambra DB at the 10 yard line to get to the end zone.
The Dons defensive highlights
included interceptions by Jack Miles and Carson Gragg, and a sack
for a safety by linebacker Niko Cortessis. Other standouts were seniors Michael Roux
and Mike O’Donnell, and juniors Graham Oh and Joey Carillo
who each had multiple tackles. Dons
captain John Kalil was a force on the line all night.