Football: Team maintains winning streak after narrowly defeating Gunn HS

MVHS struggles to maintain Cupertino’s running game as they lose the Helmet game a third year in a row


Senior Josh Garcia runs after the ball with Gunn players trailing closely behind

With all their games earlier in the season being decided by 10 or more points, the Matadors were not used to playing a close game. However, in their first league matchup of the season, they were able to beat Gunn HS in dramatic fashion. The two teams took turns exchanging scores, each showcasing their offensive firepower.

The Matadors jumped to an early 6-0 lead with a touchdown in the first quarter. Despite starting off strong, their lead did not last as the GHS offense scored two quick touchdowns and two-point conversions, making the score 8-16 in favor of the away team. Senior and wide receiver Derek Zheng noted that the team was often caught off guard by GHS’s offensive play.

“We knew that they had a really powerful offense [and] we really expected it to be a dogfight going back and forth,” Zheng said. “I knew that our offense could convert on their defense and they have one of the best offenses in the league.”

As the game continued, the battle between MVHS and GHS heated up with a tie score of 22-22 after an MVHS touchdown with 55 seconds left before halftime. Going for a tackle, early in the second quarter senior running back Jonah Ji collided with a GHS player, resulting in not only a  dislocated knee and torn MCL, but also a loss of a vital part of the MVHS offense, making the suspense even worse.

MVHS was lined up for the kickoff when Coach Ceazar Agront called for an onside kick. Junior Henry Lassa explained the significance of the moment from his perspective.

That onside kick was crazy,” Lassa said. “I didn’t even realize that you know we got it because I saw the ball up in the air, but when the ref signaled that we had it, the whole stadium erupted. Okay, everyone was so happy. That meant everything. That changed the whole momentum of the game and led us to our second half.”

The Matadors drove the ball to GHS’s six-yard line and with one second left on the clock in the first half, senior David Hernandez converted on a field goal to put MVHS up 25-22 at the half.

Zheng described what went into the decision behind the onside kick and the trust and confidence that Agront had in this team.

“Coach believes in us, we believe in him, and we just believe in our practice and the time that we put into this. It’s just about execution and we did it, so that’s great.” Zheng said.

GHS started the second half with the ball and wasted no time applying the pressure, completing a long-range pass all the way down to the Matador’s 3-yard line. With one minute and three seconds left in the fourth quarter, GHS needed to score on their last drive to secure a win.

Throwing up a hail mary pass, junior Sean Kim tipped it, causing Lassa to intercept the ball and run it back to GHS’s 40-yard line, securing the win for MVHS.

“It was the fourth quarter — we were just all really nervous,” Zheng said.”I was eyeing the clock and everyone was super nervous. Once the interception was made, we all just went nuts.”

As satisfying as this win was, the team knows that they cannot get carried away and have to take each the rest of the season one game at a time according to Lassa.

“We just want to play game by game,” Lassa said. “We just want to focus on our next game when that happens. Homecoming is big, senior night is big, but all of our games are big. We’re working on winning all them.

That being said, Lassa is not short on confidence claiming that through this hard work and dedication, the Matadors can go very far this season.

“We want to be CCS champions this year,” Lassa said. “So we just want to make it to playoffs, so we just got keep working hard during the regular season.”

The Matadors next home game is against Los Altos HS for Homecoming on Oct. 12.