With a polar opposite start and finish to a game that included a Super Bowl-reminiscent blackout, the Wilcox and Menlo-Atherton playoff rematch truly had it all. In the end, it was the Chargers getting their revenge on the Bears, a team that handed them their only blemish on a CIF State-winning 14-1 season last season.
Friday night’s rematch started out with a bang. Menlo-Atherton’s quarterback Matt MacLeod found nationally ranked wide receiver Troy Franklin wide open down the sideline for an 80-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.
Wilcox responded quickly as star running back Paul M Rosa took the Chargers’ first offensive play 45 yards down to the Bears’ 10-yard line. Rosa would finish off the drive with a six-yard touchdown run.
The two teams would go back-and-forth all game long. Menlo-Atherton retook the lead on their next drive with a 50-yard touchdown run. Wilcox then went on a 95-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a 1-yard score by Isaiah Flores.
After a Menlo-Atherton punt, Wilcox quarterback Geremy McCollough found paydirt on a keeper from 40-yards out to put Wilcox up 21-14. The Bears tied things up again two drives later with an impressive scramble and 30-yard touchdown pass.
When Wilcox went to start their next drive, the lights went out, leaving the entire field in darkness. After a 20-minute delay, the lights came back and neither team appeared fazed. Both would score again before the half. Rosa on a 38-yard run and Franklin on a 50-yard reception.
Both defenses came out stronger in the second half. The Bears forced a fumble on the goal line and the Chargers delivered both on defense and special teams. Tyler Rowland came up with a key third-down sack and Samuela Lolo blocked a field-goal attempt.
With the game still tied 28-28 midway through the fourth quarter, Wilcox Head Coach Paul Rosa came up with the perfect play call. A fake up the middle to Flores and then pitch to Rosa turned into Rosa throwing the ball downfield to receiver Aaron Ah Sing. Despite an ugly-duck throw and a flat-footed catch, Ah Sing was able to turn on the jets and sprint to the endzone for a 73-yard touchdown.
Menlo-Atherton responded yet again to tie the game with just 3:09 remaining. At 35-35 this game would go to overtime.
The Chargers got the ball first with Rosa scoring on an eight-yard run. But this time around, the Bears would fail to respond. They would lose yardage on a first-down pass to the outside, then a second-down pass to the endzone intended for Franklin was broken up nicely by Wilcox corner Forrest Watts. A tricky reverse on third down was snuffed by the defense and a last ditch fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
“This was a big game. I believe it’s the best two public schools in the area. I told our kids this is a championship when it comes down to it,” remarked coach Rosa after the 42-35 win. “It’s a big deal to be one of the best teams within your neighborhood.”
“It was a redemption match, and payback,” added the younger Rosa when asked what the win meant. “It’s good momentum going into the rest of the CCS.”
Wilcox will take on No. 1 seed Serra High School at Serra on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 1 p.m.