Matadors intimidated on Grizzly territory

Emily Vu

Varsity football lost first pre-league game against Gunderson High despite intense efforts.





Just minutes into the game, senior receiver Kalon Zandbergs returned the Grizzlies’ kickoff for a touchdown. With strong blocks, he was able to run the ball to the end zone, untouched by any other players. Soon after, senior linebacker Joe Crosariol intercepted a pass from the Grizzlies, and scored a touchdown to put the Matadors in the lead 20-12, ending the one-and-a-half-hour long first quarter.kalon_catch

After Gunderson’s Nick Batey scored a touchdown, the two-point conversion tied up the game. But junior quarterback Victor Wan took possession of the ball and scored the third touchdown for the team, ending the first half with 26-20 in favor of the matadors.

However, as the game progressed to the second half, the Matadors’ defenses weakened and the plays carried out by the special teams that had helped them in the first quarter weren’t enough to sustain them for the rest of the game. Led by Batey, the Grizzlies managed to score four consecutive touchdowns.The Matadors weren’t aggressive enough and had difficulties tackling their opponents.

“Those [Grizzlies] are all about momentum. If they have momentum, then it’s tough to beat them…we gave them the momentum so it was hard to come back,” Zandbergs said.


Within the last few seconds, senior slotback Nick Utley caught a pass in mid-air, and scored the last touchdown for the team, ending the game in a 46-32 loss for the Matadors.
Having a seemingly promising first half and high expectations to win, the Matadors were especially disappointed with their loss against the Grizzlies.
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“I expected a better performance than what we got. We didn’t play with any emotion, we couldn’t throw the ball, and we weren’t really successful in running the ball,” Coach Jeff Mueller said. “The special teams were okayor averageand our kicking game was okay. Our expectations going into the game were a little bit higher than the level that we performed at.”

For players like Zandbergs and senior cornerback  Kevin Nguyen, the environment played a detrimental role in their performance. Because Gunderson plays in the Mount Hamilton leaguewhich is on the other side of the valleythe Matadors do not usually play against them during the season. Entering Grizzly territory was a new experience for the team.

“Being in the ghetto environment was kind of scary for us,” Zandbergs said.

However, despite the loss in this pre-season game, the Matadors and their coach remain confident that they will be victorious in their upcoming league-games and refuse to lower their expectations for their team’s performance.