On the day after Thanksgiving, there was no question which team looked hungrier in the CCS Division I Championship. The Los Gatos Wildcats came out of the gates on Black Friday looking desperate to fill their stomachs.
Los Gatos took advantage of early miscues by the Wilcox Chargers to the tune of a shocking 28-7 lead after just one quarter. It was a stunning start to a rematch of a hotly contested league season contest. The Wildcats beat Wilcox 24-21 on Oct. 27. Yet, the Chargers somehow had played poorly enough to allow Los Gatos to score more through the first quarter than the Wildcats did the entire game back in October.
“We made too many mistakes. We missed a lot of blocks, had way too many penalties and a lot of turnovers,” noted Chargers tackle Justin Hylkema. “No matter how good you are as a team, that many penalties and turnovers in a game is very hard to come back from. The crucial mistakes really killed us.”
The high volume of pivotal mistakes is still difficult to fathom considering how well the Chargers had played just two weeks prior. So, what exactly went wrong in a game one would expect the Chargers to be extremely hungry for revenge?
“I guess you can say it started in practice during the week,” admitted Wilcox Wide Receivers Coach Conor Dunn. “Didn’t seem like we had quite the same focus we expected in going into a Championship game.”
Certainly, nobody familiar with these two teams anticipated a 49-14 runaway victory for either side, but that would indeed be the eventual final score. It was an unexpected blowout loss and abrupt end to an otherwise strong season for Wilcox.
But instead of harping on all the mistakes and what ifs, Head Coach Paul Rosa briefly acknowledged the disappointment prior to shedding light on the overall success of the season.
“Sometimes you will have bad nights. Ours just happened on the biggest stage. That’s the disappointing part. However, when the dust settles, we have to remember what this group did overall,” chimed Coach Rosa. “We played one of the most difficult schedules in the CCS. There are so many fake champions nowadays. It’s hard to keep up. There have been teams we have beaten by four that go on to win CCS in the same year at some lower division. It’s a very confusing system and sometimes we have to take a step back and look at what success really means.
“We have been either the best or top three public schools in the CCS for eight years in a row. This year, we lost in the public school championship game. We’re proud of the fact we play the best year in and year out. We played in six games this year that the opponent was a top 100 ranked team in the state. That’s unheard of for a CCS public school team,” continued coach Rosa. “I put more stock in that fact, than winning some D-4 or D-3 championship that rewards mediocrity. I know we lost the big game and sometimes when you play the best teams, you lose. But Wilcox football is about playing the highest level possible. So, let’s take a step back and celebrate what this team did this year. Second best public school in the CCS and top 100 team in the state. Pretty impressive what these kids accomplished, but most people would never realize it.”