2nd-Half Spirit Lifts Football to NCS Title

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Casey Miller, Editor in Chief

Despite a close 1st half, the Cougars prevailed over Marin Catholic in the North Coast Section [NCS] championship football game on Saturday, winning 27-21.

Played at Diablo Valley College’s (DVC) stadium, the game drew a crowd, including Campolindo alumni.

Quarterback of the “Cinderella Story” team of 2011 and brother of the Cougar’s current offensive leader, Brett Stephens said, “It’s awesome. I’m just so proud of [Jack]. He’s worked really hard. It was awesome when I did it, but it’s even better to watch him do it, because I’m so close to him and love him and just proud of him. It’s awesome.”

Students caravanned to DVC, complete with red flags and spirit wear. With a lineup of about twenty cars, the caravan made its way through Lafayette before being broken up by freeway traffic. Other students assembled at Pleasant Hill’s In ‘n Out restaurant before the event.

The 1st half ended in a 14-14 tie. According to head coach Kevin Macy, players were letting their nerves get the best of them, leading to fumbles and dropped passes.

“We just had to get through the tension. Our kids were just too tense in the first half, and they just had to settle in and get more confident. We had some kids who just looked scared out there. Once we started to make a few mistakes, everything seemed to tighten up a bit,” Macy said.

However, something about the halftime speech given in DVC’s locker room must have made a difference. Macy said, “The intensity came up [after halftime]. I don’t know if we stopped the mistakes, but the intensity came up.”

Senior quarterback Jack Stephens said, “I think at halftime things were really up in the air, and we didn’t really know what to expect in the second half, and I think we just had to stay calm and stay collected, and just show some senior leadership out there.”

Defensive play was also an issue, as the Cougars had several players come off the field with injuries. Macy added, “We didn’t think we would be able to stop them. We were just running out of so many bodies on defense. The only way the defense was able to do it was just pure desire and intensity. There was no special game plan and we ran out of bodies.”

Macy credited the spirit of the fans and those on the sidelines. “The fans were great. They kept the energy up when we were starting to fade. I don’t know how we pulled this one off. I wouldn’t say it was any special coaching, just the tenacity of the kids and the fans and the spirit of the school that really made the difference,” Macy said.

Rachel Lewin joined spirit commissioner Mary Hildeburn in inciting the fans during the game. “We got to do confetti, which which was really fun, and we got a lot of people out, which was good. There’s definitely going to be more activities planned for the next game,” Lewin explained.

“In the second half, when we came out and the fans were on it, I think it really just brought the life to our sideline,” Macy said.

Senior running back Nick Fadelli, who has averaged 126 yards per game, had 24 carries on Saturday. He believes one key is the connection he has with his teammates. “The fans are a big part of it. But also we have this seocnd gear that just kicks into us, that gets us pumped, and we just keep going. Our team just clicks really well, we get a long with the juniors and the sophomores and the freshmen who got pulled up. We just play well because we’re so close with them.”

According to trainer Ray Albiento, the football team has some of the school’s most disciplined athletes. He said, “[It’s great] the way they’ve been conditioning themselves, cardiorespiratory-wise, their endurance, strength-wise. When they are injured they adhere to our rehab program pretty strictly, so it’s the reason why they’ve been so successful.”

“Special group of kids we have this year. [They] work hard in the offseason, and in season just as hard, not only on the field but off the field,” Albiento added.

Next Saturday, the team will face undefeated Sutter High School at Acalanes’ stadium. According to MaxPreps.com, Campolindo is the favorite.

Stephens said, “We’re going to do what we always do: watch lots of film, have a good game plan, and find a way to have one more week together. We’ve been together for four years, the seniors. We’ve been through a lot together, a lot of weird things, a lot of fun things, and a lot of bad times too. And I think that we work so hard together, we’re just bound to be close. And we have a great coaching staff that brings us together. It’s fun to go to practice every day.”