El Estoque

Football routs the Pioneers in annual ‘Helmet game’

Dickson Tsai

The Matadors capitalize on early CHS errors to win 27-6

Oct. 23: Football vs Cupertino “Helmet Game” 2010 from El Estoque on Vimeo.  The Matadors take advantage of Cupertino High School’s six turnovers to win 27-6. With the victory, MVHS now has the helmet trophy (also known as the Conquistador Award) for eight consecutive years. Video compiled by Dickson Tsai.

In a rivalry dominated by MVHS for the last eight years, the Oct. 23 game against the Cupertino High School Pioneers proved to be no different. Despite the rain, the Matadors came prepared to trounce CHS.

“I definitely wanted to beat these guys because they’ve been talking a lot of trash to us this past week,” quarterback senior Freddy Kuo said. “We’ve been keeping the helmet for seven years, we definitely didn’t want to give it back.”

When CHS running back senior Garun Arustamov had to retrieve a lateral at the end zone, lineman senior Giles Van Poetsch and linebacker junior Michael Whittaker were quick to pounce on the ball for an easy touchdown.

The defense dominated the turnover battle in a 27-6 victory by recovering five fumbles and intercepting a pass from CHS quarterback senior Brady Wood.

“We told the kids we wanted to attack. Attack the defender, attack the offense,” head coach Jeff Mueller said. “The combination of a slippery ball and being aggressive [worked in our favor]…the ball popped out quite a bit.”

Kuo went 13 for 26 and threw for two touchdowns to lead the Matadors.

The opening drive started with a Pioneer fumble just eight seconds into the game that was soon recovered by MVHS defensive back senior Andrew Pappas. Although the Matador offense was stagnant at first, obtaining only a few first downs, the Pioneers gave them the spark they needed with yet another fumble with about two minutes left in the first quarter.

This time, the Matadors made the most of the Pioneers’ second fumble. The offense kept the drive alive by converting a key fourth down with six yards to go two minutes into the second quarter. Then, with 9:15 left in the quarter, Kuo pitched the ball to wide receiver junior Sam McCann, who rushed in for the first touchdown of the game to put the Matadors in the lead 7-0.

A mere five minutes later, MVHS had just turned the ball over on downs at the Cupertino 17-yard line when Wood made the ill-fated lateral. The Matadors extended the lead to 14 points.

“It was the same play [as the first fumble],” CHS head coach Chris Oswald said. “The defense closed in [and] he made two poor decisions. It was exactly the same play and [Wood] made the same mistake twice in a row.”

Just as the half was about to end, a hard hit by the Pioneers stopped the game. Whittaker was seen down on the field after he led in with his head and collided forcefully with Arustamov. He was able to walk off the field without assistance, but he had to go to a hospital for evaluation due to a concussion.

In the third quarter, the Pioneers still had trouble containing the Matadors. Kuo threw a well-executed screen pass to junior Jordan Sheade for a big gain that brought the Matadors to CHS’ one yard line to set up the third touchdown. Kuo then connected with wide receiver junior Mahesh Vishwanath with 6:29 remaining in the third quarter for a fourth touchdown to add to the blowout.

“They did some things that we anticipated and we basically practiced all week so we knew that if we went wide, they were going to put their defensive tackles down tight,” Mueller said. “We were able to go ahead and throw the ball a little bit.”

Mueller pulled out many of his starters by the fourth quarter, and at the final horn, the team crowded the bench to lift up the helmet trophy proudly. MVHS kept its winning streak alive, having won every game against the Pioneers since 2004.

“[The game] was pretty intense,” Vishwanath said. “There was a lot of trash talking going on on the field and the coaches were really [competitive], but it was really nice to win in the end to keep the trophy.”

The Matadors, now 3-3-1, will travel to Los Gatos to face former MVHS player senior Ryan Bertrand and the Wildcats in a non-league contest on Oct. 29.