The Santa Clara High football team has long struggled to keep up with crosstown rival Wilcox. Most of the top youth football players in the city end up attending Wilcox and playing for the Chargers. That has left a steep hill to climb for the Bruins football program to maintain any sense of relevancy. As evidenced this season, there is still quite a gap between the two teams, but there is a strong argument to be made that the gap has been closed by a significant margin.
Bruins Head Coach Andrew Calderon took over the head coaching duties this year for the first time, but he has been coaching in different assistant roles for the Bruins dating back to 2007. The Bruins therefore have a familiarity with their coach and seem to have a foundation they can build upon.
Despite going winless in the De Anza League this season, the Bruins could have very easily finished the league season at 3-3. Santa Clara was in position to have a chance to win late in the fourth quarter in games against Milpitas (10-0 final), Mountain View (21-14 final) and Homestead (29-26 final). A popular football cliche goes “you are what your record says you are” but in this case, the Bruins were actually far better than what their record says.
They competed admirably in the upper division of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League (SCVAL) this season. With the SCVAL bylaws though, the Bruins will likely be bumped down to the El Camino League next season due to their last place finish.
“This might be the perfect scenario for us since we are graduating half of our team. I’m graduating 20 something guys and I think our roster was 22,” noted Coach Calderon. “It’s probably not a bad thing to go down to the El Camino. They need to learn how to win; they need to learn how to win tough games. And then if we have success, we can be ready for the De Anza again.”
That would be the ideal scenario for the Bruins, as Calderon expressed a lot of excitement about the sophomores who played this season. Most notable from that group would be starting quarterback Matthew Conklin who took over halfway through the season. It would be Conklin’s senior year in two years with the rest of his classmates back in the De Anza.
“It was definitely hard losing Aiden [Rangle] as quarterback because I have always been his center, but Matty came in and was a really good quarterback for us,” remarked senior center Owen MaCartney. “I think it was a good decision, especially for next year and moving forward. I think Matty is going to be really good for the future of Santa Clara football. He was a really darn good quarterback for us and he’s only going to get better.”
The Bruins could have had a divided locker room after a quarterback change, but the team bonded together and stuck together with extremely mature attitudes towards growth.
“We did way better than last year,” noted senior defensive end Jacob Allen. “We were more focused on self-growth than winning. As long as we keep getting better every game, that’s as good as we can do.”