Stephens’ 5 TD Passes Lead Football to State

Nick Johnson, Staff Writer

With a 35-14 victory over the Sutter High Huskies at Acalanes High School on December 13, the football squad has earned a return trip to the CIF [California Interscholastic Federation] State Championship game.

El Capitan of the San Diego section will be the Cougars’ opponent at the StubHub Center in Southern California on December 20.

Campolindo stumbled in the opening minutes of the NorCal championship game, falling behind 14-0. The Cougar offense went 3 and out on their first 2 possessions.

The tide appeared to turn with 2 minutes left in the 1st quarter, as Campolindo intercepted a pass by Huskies quarterback Randy Post.  Moments later, however, the Sutter defense picked off a pass from Jack Stephens and returned it for a score.

The Cougars finally found their groove in the 2nd quarter.

With 5:50 left in the half, Stephens threw a 76 yard pass to Caleb Whalen to take the lead.

“Some of our best players, Adam [Remotto], Tyler [Petite], Conner [McNally] and Sterling [Strother] stepped up and made some big plays and we got ourselves back in the game. Our defense could finally relax because we finally started moving the ball,” said Stephens.

Senior tight end Tyler Petite said, “We have so many play makers, everyone can make a play. You have Caleb [Whalen] scoring a touchdown, you have [Remotto] with a couple touchdowns, we have so many weapons. If you try and take away one, it just opens up three more and I gotta give credit to our coaching staff because they do a great job.”

Senior defensive back Tiger Garcia had 2 interceptions in the game, the 2nd coming with about 3 minutes left in the half in the Cougar end zone.

Campolindo’s defense stiffened after the shaky start.  Stephens erupted for 5 unanswered touchdown throws. “We made some big defensive adjustments, and we had seen some things that we didn’t watch on film. Once we had settled in and got the momentum going, everything was just clicking on all cylinders. The crowd was great, our sideline was great, it was just an incredible victory for Campo,” Petite said.

Head coach Kevin Macy said the resilience of his players was key in the comeback. “The mental toughness of our kids [is key]. I think more than anything else, we knew that we’d be at a little bit of a disadvantage. We knew that they had a week off and were rested. We were a little bit worn down. Their type of offense has so much misdirection, and they do so many trick plays and crazy things, so it was going to take our kids a while to settle in and get used to it, and I’m proud of the way they did that,” Macy said.

With this NorCal win, Campolindo improves to 15-0 on the season, including playoff victories over Ygnacio Valley, Cardinal Newman, Analy and Marin Catholic.

“It’s hard to explain it. To tell you the truth, you can’t really pinpoint why. Each week, we just seem to battle our way through awkward situations. We’ve redefined ourselves a number of times this year. I just know that they’ve built that team around their chemistry and how much they believe in each other so you just root for a group of kids like this that believe in each other so much,” Macy said.

Petite added, “I’ve been growing up with all my teammates and I love them so much. They’re my family and it just means so much that we can go through the whole season knowing that we made it all the way through,” he said.

This will be the 2nd time in 4 years that the Cougars have advanced to the CIF State Championship game.