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Football wins CCS title, comes up short in state tournament

Photo by Cayden Gu

Football won the CCS Division V title in a 27-24 victory over Monterey High School on Nov. 25. With the championship win, the team secured its first CCS title since 2010 and advanced to the state tournament.

The CCS victory capped off a six-game win streak, which ended on Dec. 2 in a 30-20 loss to Santa Teresa in the state tournament.

Senior and running back Jack Newman, who scored two touchdowns in the CCS championship game, said winning the CCS title was meaningful because of the team’s resilience.

“It means everything,” Newman said. “After such a bad start to the season, being able to rally as a team and win CCS, it’s freaking incredible.”

But head coach David DeGeronimo said the loss to Santa Teresa in the CIF Division 6-AA NorCal Regional Championship game was partly due to poor play in the second half.

“I thought we had control of the game until mid-third quarter, and then things kind of unraveled on us,” DeGeronimo said. 

Senior and linebacker Lincoln Tutor said Santa Teresa’s special teams played a role in the defeat as well.

“On special teams, every time they punted, it always went to the two-yard line,” Tutor said. “On kickoff returns, (we) always started at the two- or three-yard line. We had really bad field position the whole game, and that’s probably a big reason why we lost.” 

Tutor also said the fact that the team came so far after a 1-6 start shows how they learned to persevere through tough losses.

“When we lost to Leland, when we lost to Homestead, we knew we could’ve beaten those teams,” Tutor said. “We believed in ourselves. We knew that we could do a lot. We can go far. (We) never gave up hope.”

Assistant principal LaDonna Butler, who oversees the school’s athletic program, said she was impressed with the team’s ability to revive its season and make it so far into the playoffs.

“I am extremely proud of our team,” she said. “They had a very slow start, a new coach who’s changing the culture of the team, and they fought hard tonight,” Butler said. “I’m just excited for how successful they have been this year.”

Butler also said she was proud of the student section for its sportsmanship during the game.

She said student fans have made a significant improvement in having sportsmanship since the Sept. 9 incident where Paly students rushed Gunn’s bleachers during the crosstown rivalry game.

“The students were doing the things we’ve asked them to do,” Butler said. “Sometimes, challenging circumstances happen. We might make a poor choice, but then we talk about it, figure out what the norms are going to be, and then we get to experience opportunities like tonight.”

Despite the loss, DeGeronimo said the season was successful and his players formed a strong connection with each other.

“They love each other like brothers, and they play hard for each other,” DeGeronimo said. “We started out 1-6, and we finished 7-7 and were CCS champs. These guys just needed to develop, and they developed quickly and started to understand the system.”

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