MORE HISTORY MADE AT KEZAR STADIUM
Friday night the Bearcats of San Mateo High entered historic Kezar Stadium, the original home of the San Francisco 49ers, to play the Mission Bears of San Francisco. By night’s end, Coach Scheller and the team could lay claim to their own piece of history, recording the program’s 500th victory. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t their best game, but the Bearcats found a way to beat Mission 16-6 to run their season record to 4-0.
The team entered the contest missing its leading ground gainers, D’Hay Allen and Jonathan Ramirez. Both are recovering from injuries suffered last week in the win over Los Altos. To make maters worse, two more key players went out in the first half of Friday night’s game. Starting tight end Jake Jeffries and running back Anthony Villalobos both left the field with injuries and were unable to return to action.
With so much offensive firepower missing, it was up to the defense, which has played so well this year, to keep the Bearcats in the game. Led with two interceptions by Gui Pains, plus a blocked punt and a fumble recovery by George Kauatai, they did just that. The offense struggled somewhat, but found the right plays when they needed it. Mission did strike first, with a 21-yard TD pass on their second possession of the game. However, those were the only points the Bearcat defense would allow the remainder of the night.
Bearcat Defense Stacking the Line
Two key defensive plays made the difference in the game for the Bearcats. The first came with 3 minutes to play in the second quarter. Facing a 4th and 10 on their own 42, Mission had to punt. Kauatai broke through the middle of the Bear line, blocked the kick and the Bearcats took over at the Mission 37. As the clock wound down, San Mateo drove to a first and goal at the 5-yard line. Three running plays later and they were facing fourth and goal at the one with 20 seconds on the clock. William Bradford, who is a key player at linebacker for the Bearcats and has also logged a few carries this season, punched it in from there. Juan Guzman’s extra point gave the Bearcats a 7-6 lead at the half.
The second Bearcat touchdown didn’t take nearly as long, but was a lot longer play. Five minutes into the 3rd quarter the defense once again cued the offense. This time it was junior Gerber Palaez stripping the ball from the Mission running back’s hands as he was being tackled, and stopping another Bear drive with a turnover. On San Mateo’s very next play, QB Jose Ontiveros took the snap from his own 27, stepped back and threw a pass to Kevin Grant at midfield. Grant jumped in the air in front of the Mission cornerback, grabbed the pass and out sprinted 2 Bear defenders the next 50 yards to give the Bearcats a 13-6 lead. The extra point failed when Ontiveros couldn’t hold the snap from center for Guzman. But the pair made up for it with 4 minutes to play in the third quarter. A bad snap by Mission deep in their own territory led to a fumble recovered by Kauatai at the Bears 12 yard. After 3 plays netted only 7 yards, Guzman game out to attempt the first field goal of his Varsity career from 21 yards. This time Ontiveros got the snap down and the kick was good for the final tally of 16-6.
With so many key injuries, the Bearcats are welcoming a bye week to recover. They next see action in their conference opener against Jefferson in Daly City on September 29. San Mateo enters the game as the defending Lake Division champions and look to keep their undefeated 2017 season in tact.