By Noah Glosson, Head Print Section Editor
// The wait is finally over. After 476 days since their last game, the Acalanes High School varsity football team returned to action on Saturday, March 13 to play against the Monte Vista High School Mustangs.
Football players of all grade levels organized several “Let them Play” protests and rallies for months in hopes of having their voices heard. In mid-February, athletic departments allowed students to return to the gridiron.
“The feeling was unreal, and to think that this night would never come and then it showed up out of nowhere [surprised me]. It really hit me when I put the pads on and looked in the mirror and told myself that it’s really happening,” varsity football player and junior Evan Malmquist said.
Due to COVID-19 guidelines, Acalanes only allowed family members to attend in-person and required face masks and physical distancing.
On the fourth play of Acalanes’ opening drive, varsity quarterback and senior Brady Huchingson threw a deep ball towards the end zone and into the hands of varsity wide receiver and junior Will Berrien for a 33-yard score.
After forcing a turnover on downs, the Dons quickly converted it into points. On the second play of the drive, Huchingson fired a dart to wide receiver and junior Dante Montgomery, who sprinted 42 yards after the catch into the endzone for a 55-yard touchdown. The missed point after touchdown gave the Dons a 13-0 advantage over Monte Vista.
The Mustangs responded quickly with two rushing touchdowns to give Monte Vista a 14-13 advantage over Acalanes.
Midway through the second quarter, Acalanes ran a reverse rush with Montogmery. Montgomery broke free, maneuvered his way through multiple Mustang defenders, and dived into the endzone for his second touchdown of the night.
After forcing another turnover on downs, Acalanes scored another touchdown when Huchingson delivered a strike to wide receiver and senior Joe Evans who took it in for six, and a two-point conversion gave the Dons a 27-14 advantage at half-time.
Late in the third quarter, Acalanes maintained their lead over Monte Vista with Huchingson connecting to Evans on a screen pass who took it into the endzone for another touchdown, making it 33-14.
Monte Vista began gaining momentum in the fourth quarter, scoring two touchdowns and cutting the lead to 33-27.
With just under five minutes left, the Dons fumbled in their own territory and the Mustangs recovered.
However, the Dons’ defense held strong and forced another turnover on downs. Acalanes got the ball back with just over two minutes left in the game. After running 100 seconds off the clock, senior Hunter Ridley punted, giving the Mustangs possession with just under a minute remaining.
Defensive end and senior Joey Carrillo spoiled any chance of a Mustangs comeback with a sack, and the Dons won 33-27.
Despite the win, outside linebacker and senior Niko Cortessis believes the team has many lessons to learn from this game.
“In my opinion, we didn’t play a great game. We need to improve our run defense and the offense needs to reduce fumbling,” Cortessis said.
Coming up, the Dons will host the Las Lomas High School Knights on March 20. Acalanes looks to avenge a 42-21 loss to the Knights in 2019.
According to Cortessis, Acalanes must maintain a strong mentality in order to avenge their loss.
“We’re expecting a pretty similar game with Las Lomas, so toughness in the trenches is a must this week,” Cortessis said.