It was short, but oh so sweet for the JV Dons, as they finished their Spring Football season with a perfect record of 6-0 after a convincing 15-0 win over a tough California team. The defense was lights out on the day as the Grizzlies were held to only 41 total yards, and the offense only needed two big plays to secure the win.
Acalanes started off with the ball, and after two running plays got the Dons to 3rd and short, a dropped pass forced a 4th down punt. Once on the field, the Dons D started exerting their will immediately. On 1st down, LBs Nathan Bennett and George Churchill combined with FS Max Thomas to stop the Grizzly RB for a short 2-yard gain. On 2nd, LB Ben Foox tracked down a swing pass for a 4-yard loss making it 3rd and a long 12. On 3rd, Nathan tipped a quick slant that was caught by the WR who was taken down immediately by LB Miller Smith and Max before he could gain a yard. Now it was 4th down and the Grizzlies needed to punt. Standing back at his own 20 was CB Ellis Burger, about to put on a show…
The punt carried long and deep, and Ellis tried to catch it high on his chest. The ball bounced off of his shoulder pads and rolled all the way back to the Acalanes 9-yard line. Scrambling back to pick up the ball, Ellis turned to see several Grizzlies bearing down on him. With a quick move to the right, he avoided the first two and sprinted across the field toward the right sideline. As he approached the edge of the field, a Grizzly player sped to cut him only to be pancaked with a crushing block by CB Mason Michlitsch. Turning the corner, Ellis cut past a fourth Grizzly that was screened off by Miller. Now that he had the corner, Ellis turned on the jets and out-ran two more Grizzlies up the sideline. There was only one more man to beat and Ellis gave him a quick stiff-arm and he was gone… 91 yards later they were celebrating in the end zone, and K Zach Murdin (cast and all), completed the play with a perfect extra point. Dons 7, Grizzlies 0.
The rest of the half was relatively quiet, with a handful of first downs for the Dons and a couple of turnovers. California threatened to score late in the second quarter, but DE Marcus Julian and LB Nathan Bennett’s pressure forced a hurried throw on 4th down that was batted away by CB Ethan Torres.
The second half started with California going to the air more often after failing to run against the stout Dons defense, but the DBs, Ethan, Ellis, Max, Coco, Mason and Grant Eubanks, proved to be just as tough, and the Grizzlies went nowhere. Once Acalanes got the ball back, the Dons started to punish the Grizzlies with the ground game, Kyle Bielawski ran the QB draw for 9 yards. Foox ran again for another 2 and a 1st down. A dropped pass and a 1-yard loss brought up 3rd and 11, but a quick screen to WR Jake Takeuchi let him to showcase his YAC to give the Dons a short 4th and 1. The big boys of the heavy formation came in (Zach Robb, Nathan Kim, Justin Zegarowski, Victor Nicolacakis, Marcus Julian, George Churchill, Tyler Worthington, and Miller Smith), to create some space, and RB Ben Foox did the rest, with a great second effort to secure the first down. After another incomplete pass, the Dons went back to the run with the O-line opening up a big hole for Kyle on the QB Draw. After blasting through the Grizzly line, Kyle bounced outside and outran the Grizzly DBs all the way down the sideline for a 46-yard TD. Once again coaches called on the heavy formation but this time, they ran the RPO with Kyle finding Tyler Worthington in the end zone for the successful two-point conversion. The score was now Acalanes 15, and California 0.
All that was left for the Dons was to preserve the shut out, and that they did. The defense was outstanding all day and didn’t allow the Grizzlies any space to even breathe. Top tacklers included LB George Churchill with 3 solo, 5 assists, 1 TFL and .5 sack; LB Ben Foox with 3 solo, 2 assists, 2 TFLs and 1.5 sacks; and Coco Gannon with 3 solo and 2 TFL.
What an amazing season and an amazing team. Ten months of practice and it all came together in a magically perfect 6-0 season. Everyone associated with this team and this season, from the coaches and the players to the parents and parent volunteers, should be incredibly proud of what our boys have accomplished in this, such a trying season. Special thanks to Jen Bielawski and Jane Smith for all their work with “Let them Play” rallies and communications which were critical in getting the season started. So much to remember, but the one point win at Campolindo, the 15 player win at Miramonte (including NBen’s 90 yard pick six), and the three defensive shut outs at home definitely stand out.
These football years are precious and while we have two more years of varsity to look forward to, there will never be a year quite like this undefeated 2021 Spring JV League Championship!
Every single player competed their hearts out and got better this year thanks to our incredible coaching staff Greg Young, Randy Henderson, Bill Fraser, and Rob Combi. While it was a true team effort all year, we honored some of the standouts with the following awards at our end of season celebration.
Rookie of the Year: Ellis Burger
Most Improved: Zach Robb
MVP Offense: Marcus Julian
MVP Defense: Miller Smith
Dons Award: Max Thomas
Coaches Award: Ben Foox
Most Inspirational: Tyler Worthington
Sorry to see this season end, but the good news is only six weeks until Summer Football and a real Fall Season!