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Network of Sacred Heart Schools

Gators fall in CCS Division II semis to top-seed Los Gatos

Palo Alto Online
The SHP Football team fell to top-seeded Los Gatos 21-11 on Friday night. 

No. 4 seed Sacred Heart Prep started off on the wrong foot in its Central Coast Section Division II semifinal with top-seed Los Gatos Friday night. While it may have been an early case of the jitters, the Gators gathered themselves, fighting until the end in a 21-11 loss to the Wildcats (11-1) at Helm Field. 

SHP (8-4) fumbled the ball away on the second play of the game. Los Gatos scored on third down when quarterback Yost Girvan threw to a wide-open Adam Garwood, whose 12-yard touchdown came just two minutes in. 

On their next possession, the Gators committed two of their five illegal procedure penalties, with the result a three-and-out. On their third possession quarterback Teddy Purcell had a pass tipped, then picked off by the Wildcats' Jackson Benjamin. That turnover did not lead to points, however.

“We turned the ball over to start the game,” SHP coach Mark Grieb said. “Gave them a short field on the second play of the game. Honestly, aside from that, we competed. It could have been 7-0 at halftime.”

Los Gatos used some trickery for its second touchdown. On fourth-and-19, Los Gatos looked like it was going to go for it, then coach Mark Krail sent another unit out as if he changed his mind, opting to punt. 

Not so fast. Alex Gardo took the snap and connected deep down the middle to Jackson Cookus, who was finally brought down at the 4-yard line after a 33-yard completion. Garwood, nephew of the late Pat Tillman, went over the goal line on the next play. 

Garwood came into the game with over 1,000 yards rushing, but was limited to 74 yards on 13 carries. Garwood had a brilliant 46-yard TD run called back due to a holding penalty.

The Gators finally broke the ice when Ronan Donnelly booted a 34-yard field goal with 5:21 to go in the third period. The key play on the drive was a 34-yard end-around run by Wilson Weisel, who had 73 yards on 8 carries. Weisel also made his presence known as a receiver, catching 3 passes for 43 yards.

The Gators' onside kick was recovered by the Wildcats, but – on the next play - Cav Williams tackled Girvan for a 3-yard loss. Williams had a fantastic game, defensively, making several tackles.

“Cav Williams is a hell of a football player,” Grieb said. 

A 35-yard slant pass from Girvan to Gian Lagemann went for a touchdown, giving the Wildcats a nice cushion with 11:02 remaining. Lagemann's older brother, Alex, was a star football player at Saratoga before playing wide receiver at Cal.

The Gators had one last hurrah, scoring on a 1-yard run by Tevita Moimoi with 5:15 to play. A 25-yard completion to Weisel served as the key play on the drive. The Gators ended up with a 2-point conversion when holder William Van Dyke took a faulty snap, rolled to his right and finding Will Mackie in the endzone. 

“We found some things that began working for us late in the first half,” Greib said. “That's a good football team over there. When you play against a good team, your margin for error shrinks. We slowed them down, tremendously.”

The Wildcats did a fine job limiting Moimoi, who had just 39 yards on 11 carries. 

The silver lining for Moimoi was that his yardage total was good enough to put him over 1,000 yards for the season at 1,006.

“Tevita is amazing,” Grieb said. “He's a great leader and a heck of a person. He's a stud.”

After the postgame talk from Grieb, Moimoi and his teammates let the emotions flow after a productive season.. Grieb loses 22 seniors, many of them his top players. 

“I love these guys,” Grieb said. “It's a great team. They're so close and worked so hard all year. It doesn't always end the way you want it for most teams. I told them that. I'm proud of the way they competed and never quit.”

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Founded by the Society of the Sacred Heart, SHS is a Catholic, independent, co-ed day school for students in preschool through grade 12