Football: Falcons gear up for Wildcats following 2 straight losses

September 11, 2018 — by Alex Wang

Despite recent losses, the team has a positive outlook on the upcoming season as they prepare for their rival match against Los Gatos.

The Falcons (1-2) will meet the 2-1 Los Gatos Wildcats in the annual rivalry game under the bright lights of Helm Field in Los Gatos tonight.

The team heads into the matchup banged up but hopeful. The team managed to secure a 27-20 win against Santa Teresa in its home opener on Aug. 24, but lost to Silver Creek 27-13 on Aug. 31 and Sacred Heart Prep 54-18 on Sept. 7.

Leading the team are junior quarterback Payton Stokes, senior running back JJ Wang and senior linemen Devin Mather and Matt Andary. Notable additions include Stokes as well as junior wide receivers George Bian and Max Muilenburg while notable players who graduated include quarterback Niko Rositano, wide receiver Harrison Fong and lineman Allie Liddle.

The team has already been hard hit by injuries in the last two weeks. Sophomore wide receiver Ryan Gilligan broke his fibula and senior kicker and senior safety Kick Poelmann tore his ACL during the game against Silver Creek.

These injuries will keep them out for the rest of the season. Additionally, senior lineman Peter Owens and sophomore lineman Hunter Dertorossian were ruled out against Sacred Heart Prep, Owens with illness and Dertorossian with a concussion.

Throughout the three games, the team has started strong but  in the second half. Bian said that this is one of many reasons for their 1-2 record.

“Over the last two weeks, we didn’t have great practices and that translated onto the field, so we will be heading into the next game with a hard work ethic,” he said.

Even though the game against Los Gatos is a non-league game, players see it as no less important than in previous years. The game will pit players from JV teams of the past two years; both JV matchups were won by the Falcons.

However, the Wildcats team that the Falcons will face is talented in all aspects. Offensively, they are led by senior quarterback Jack Lewis Miller and senior running backs Ryan Garwood and Jarred Mazzaferro. On defense, the Wildcats boast senior middle linebacker and Cal-commit Kyle Smith, who had 193 tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble last year. In the Wildcats’ first three games, they cruised by Leland 35-9 and Leigh 45-0, but lost to San Benito 26-16 last week.

The Falcons’ games have played out differently. Last week, they were up against a strong Sacred Heart team and suffered a lopsided loss. In the beginning, the Gators came out with two touchdowns, while the Falcons struggled to complete passes and move the chains. But later, they began to find their rhythm and came back with two touchdowns of their own. A Sacred Heart field goal ended the half with the Gators up 18-12.

The second half was a different story. After the two teams traded touchdowns, the Falcons’ defense began to fall apart and the Falcons could not get a drive going. Meanwhile, Sacred Heart scored two long rushing touchdowns and a passing touchdown and then intercepted a Stokes pass, which led to another rushing touchdown. A lost fumble on the Falcons’ last drive ruled out any chance of a comeback.

The Silver Creek game was tight, and the Falcons had a significant chance to win the game. The team got off to a hot start, establishing a strong run and screen game early. But it was still a struggle to find the end zone; two turnovers proved costly. Nonetheless, the team still led 7-0 at the half because the defense was stout, limiting the Raiders to several short drives.

The game flipped in the second half. On the Falcons’ ensuing drive after kickoff, a Raiders’ linebacker jumped a screen pass for a pick-6. Afterwards, the Falcons seemed to lose all momentum with one ended drive after another. The offense faced a lot of pressure from the Raiders’ pass rush, limiting the the passing game. Meanwhile, Silver Creek managed to score two more touchdowns to lead 21-7.

The Falcons tried to mount a comeback late in the game after a pass touchdown to Wang, but a fumble on the 1-yard line that led to a Raiders touchdown and an interception on the next drive sealed the game.

Against Santa Teresa, the Falcons managed to squeeze by with a win, equally their total from last season. The gameplay from the team was solid overall: Their passes were on point and they rushed well. The defense had two interceptions, but some sloppy play from both sides of the ball led to a closer game than the team would have wanted. In spite of that, the Falcons managed to hold on in the fourth quarter to win the game.

The outlook on the season is positive this year for the team after a dismal 1-9 season last year, especially since competition will becomes easier in the El Camino League.

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