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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Great SHS sports victories: The night the Falcons edged by the Wildcats

In 2010, the New Orleans Saints crushed the Indianapolis Colts and claimed the Super Bowl XLIV title, and the San Francisco Giants clinched their first World Series after beating the Texas Rangers. However, Saratoga had an immense triumph of its own: a victory over the longtime rival, the Los Gatos Wildcats.

Three years ago on Oct. 22, seconds after the game clock ended the fourth quarter, a sea of red stormed Benny Pierce field, cheering and screaming in celebration of the Falcon’s thrilling 21-17 victory that ended a 27-year losing streak against Los Gatos. Students, alumni and parents flooded the green turf, rejoicing in one of the most memorable games in the history of Saratoga athletics.

No game is an easy victory for the football team, which plays in one of the toughest public school divisions in California.

“Every game in our league is tough,” head coach Tim Lugo said. “While I don't treat the Los Gatos game with any added emphasis, I know our kids do.”

Every year when the highly anticipated game against Los Gatos approaches, there is always plenty of heated tension between the two schools, sometimes galvanized by trash talk and personal conflicts. Evidently, winning this regular season game for the first time since 1982 meant a lot to the team.

The team started the game slowly for the Falcons, but quickly grew stronger and bolder with every player displaying confidence, determination and audacity. Every time the Falcons had a big play on offense or defense, fans cheered with enthusiasm. The band and cheer team added to the exciting atmosphere, giving the Falcons a huge home field advantage.

“The biggest moment for us was the trick play (jet reverse pass) we executed to take the lead,” Lugo said. “It was the biggest moment of the game and gave our kids the momentum we needed.”

In the fourth quarter, wide receiver and class of 2011 alumnus Chris Guengrich scored his second touchdown of the night to put the Falcons up 21-17. Late in the game Los Gatos was driving the ball and had it near the Falcons’ 20-yard line with close to a minute remaining. The Wildcats ran a pass play and heaved the ball to the end zone, but safety and class of 2012 alumnus Troy Doles made one of the most memorable plays in Saratoga Football history when he intercepted the pass at the 2-yard line, sealing the victory for the Falcons.

Everything that followed the interception was a blur. The home crowd was overcome with emotion, pride and love for the supportive Falcon family and the phenomenal players that made Saratoga proud.

“It was one of the greatest things I have ever seen,” said senior Bobby Vithanage, who played free safety as a freshman on JV at the time. “The victory definitely pumped the school up and brought Saratoga together.”

Senior center Clark Rothenberg, also a freshman on JV at the time, said the victory is a memorable one for the community.

“It was nice to beat them,” Rothenberg said. “The dramatic interception that [Doles] had to seal the game is unforgettable in Saratoga athletics.”

Not only was the game a major upset for Los Gatos, but it also gave the football program a huge kickstart. According to Vithanage, the program has only continued to grow stronger and better since 2010.

Lugo said the win over Los Gatos was not a one-time feat either.

“It might have been the first one in 28 years, but it certainly won't be the last one!” Lugo said.

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