Football Preps for 2nd State Bowl Appearance

Fiona Deane-Grundman, Staff Writer

After winning the NorCal championship game last weekend, the football team is on its way to the Division III State Bowl Game against El Capitan-Lakeside of San Diego.

The game will be played at the StubHub Center, Home of the LA Earthquakes, in Carson, CA on Saturday, December 20.  Kickoff is scheduled for noon.

The Cougars came from behind to beat Sutter Union High in the NorCal game. Athletic director Tom Renno said,”The kids, under a lot of pressure, responded like champions. The coaches obviously made some great changes and were able to get our kids to play a great  game.”

“When you have a game with that kinda the momentum everything just changes so much.  The coaching staff obviously did a great job planning and also during the game we were able to respond to what Sutter was doing well,” Renno added.

Renno also credited the student body on its enthusiastic support from the stands. “The Campolindo 12th man was voted as the 12th man of the year;there was a huge, strong crowd support for the game. It was a great environment and the team used that enthusiasm to produce a great victory for Campo,” he explained.

Renno anticipates the upcoming game will be highly attended. “Just like in 2011, I expect our fans to travel very well and it should be a great crowd and a great atmosphere for the game,” he said.

“They play a big role,” said offensive and defensive tackle Sterling Strother of the team’s fans.

1 “Rooter bus” will transport fans to the state bowl game, according to a message that Principal John Walker posted on Schoolloop. “Unfortunately, Campolindo cannot secure any additional buses,” he wrote.

“It’s already sold out,” said Renno.

Renno said that the game, which marks the end of the football season, will be broadcast by Comcast, insuring that fans unable to travel to Southern California will still be able to watch it live.

Strother emphasized that the team’s strategy has remained consistent throughout the season and that this will benefit them at State. “There weren’t any coaching changes that needed to be made. It was just about being able to grind it out and really just outwork them,” he said of the NorCal victory.

According to Renno, Saturday’s opponent is formidable but he is confident Campolindo’s strengths will prevail. “The team we’re playing is supposed to be a very good team. Obviously when you’re in the state finals you’re going to play another great team, but our kids have been playing great all year and I’ll expect that they’ll continue to do so on Saturday,” he said.

“It’s going to be a really good game. It’s going to go into the fourth quarter. It’ll be the state championship; you can’t ask for more competition than that,” added Tiger Garcia.

“Obviously it’s huge; El Capitan from So Cal is a really, really good team but we’ve beaten a lot of good teams this year, and if we play to the best of our ability I think it’ll be a good game, but we need to do that,” agreed Strother.

Head coach Kevin Macy believes that a win won’t come easily. “That’s going to be a challenge. They’re a bigger team, a much bigger school of over 1700 kids, so we really don’t match up well size wise with them.”

Macy also believes that fatigue is taking a toll on his athletes. “It’s getting tougher because the bodies are wearing down the complete playoff system’s taken its toll on our kids so playing a 16th game is really asking a lot. But our kids are going to fight. They’v e been doing so all year. They’re going to make up the difference in spirit and fight,” Macy said.

Renno recalls “how the team responded after being down early in a game against Las Lomas. The team came back and just was able to dominate the Las Lomas team after being down early in the game. Obviously the game against Marin catholic was just a great game between two amazing programs who have a lot of respect for each other so winning that game was huge.”  Such experiences should serve the Cougars well as they ready themselves for their final opponent of the season.

Strother cited instances such as “winning DFAL and winning NCS” as prominent triumphs and added that “winning this game and then state would be the ultimate in anything.”

According to Renno, Campolindo is one of a very few east bay schools to make it to a state bowl championship.”In 2011 Campolindo played Washington Fresno. We lost 21 to 16 in the state final, then that was the only time we’ve been to the state bowl game. The state bowl games have only been around for probably ten years so this is our second time going to the state bowl game; it’s an unbelievable accomplishment to make it this far. Through the entire East Bay Area, De La Salle is the only other team that had been to this game before; this year Clayton Valley also made it so we have three east bay teams making it to the state game which is amazing,” he explained.

Chemistry has been a key for this year’s squad. “I think what’s amazing about this team is how important every individual is on the team. They have many great players who all are able  to in different ways help the team thrive. They’ve all bought into the team concept they all play together as one unit. There are a lot of great players who all play together. They’re extremely well-coached,” explained Renno.

Macy described his general strategy as consistent and emphasized the need to not overwork athletes as the game approaches. “As we’re struggling through the injuries and worn down bodies, their attitude for wanting to play these games under tough conditions is really making a difference. Theres not much we can do in terms of special gameplanning, which there’s very little opportunity to do everything has to be very simple at this point because we have to rotate a lot of kids in in different situations. A lot of our kids aren’t practicing right now, and some of our starters, because the bodies are so beat up so we’re actually going in the opposite direction; we’re getting really simple and we’re very limited with our practice time with the kids,” he explained.

According to Macy, getting this far is a major victory for the team, regardless of Saturday’s outcome. “We thought we’d never make it back. It was a miracle back then. This is extremely rare,” he said. He believes that the fans are vital to the team’s success. “The fans supply that energy that the kids can’t dig down any deeper to find,” he added.

Garcia and Strother also emphasized the outstanding chemistry of the team. “We really love each other and we’re basically a big family,” said Strother. “If I could use one word it’d be brotherhood,” explained Garcia, describing the camaraderie within the team.”

“I’m really just looking forward to it,” added Strother.