With the digits on the scoreboard game clock steadily approaching zero, there is a variety of energetic emotions on the Piedmont football sideline during the team’s final home game of the season. For the seniors, sentimental reminiscence of their high school football careers combines with an uproarious excitement to be on the field one last time. As for the underclassmen, there is a different air of thrill to be witnessing what many of their futures may hold. Keeping in time with the steady rhythm of high school sports, some players’ high school football careers are coming to an end while the others’ are just beginning. Football season has once again come to its inevitable conclusion in Piedmont.
This year’s varsity team ended the regular season 8-2 and entered the division four NCS playoffs as the sixth seed. They beat Del Norte at home on Nov. 14 and advanced to the quarter-finals where they played third seed Fortuna away and lost 36 to 7, ending their season.
Team captain senior Mason Willrich said that the team was not really ready for the season to come to an end and fought hard until the very end of the game.
“Especially with the guys and how close everyone felt, [this season] was really kind of a one-of-a-kind experience,” Willrich said. “No one really wanted that to all of a sudden end. It went beyond just playing a game with each other.”
What differentiated the 2015 Highlanders from teams from previous years was the amount of adversity the team dealt with, Willrich said. He gave the example of losing senior Connor Addiego in week four to an injury. Addiego, who was chosen by the team as one of their captains at the beginning of the year, was kept off the field for the remainder of the regular season.
First-year head coach James Holan, who had worked with the boys in previous seasons as an assistant coach, said that another thing that made this team different was their shared attitude and aspiration for success.
“I think all the kids understand what we’ve done the last two years and their expectation is to continue doing that stuff and to take it to the next step,” Holan said.
One of the most memorable moments this season was beating Justin Siena in the first game of the season, junior Nick Pacult said. Justin Siena knocked Piedmont out of the NCS semi-finals last year and went on to take the championship, so it was nice to get some revenge, Pacult said. The Highlanders took on Justin Siena on Aug. 28 in an away game and came away with the victory with a final score of 35-21.
“That was the first game of the season so it really put the team on a right track towards success,” Willrich said.
Pacult added that some of the season’s defining moments were the senior night game game against San Lorenzo when senior Britt McCormick scored his first touchdown, the team’s win in the league championship game against Alameda, and their loss against Moreau Catholic in week three. In the game against Moreau, the Highlanders came in with a record of 2-0 but lost 55-9 in their biggest point-deficit of the year.
“At that point, as a team, our season could go one of two ways,” Pacult said. “We could either say, ‘ok, the game happens and we can move on,’ or we could have self-pity and feel bad for ourselves and not get better. We chose to move forward and get better throughout the season and it really paid off.”
At the end of this season, a group of 14 seniors will be leaving the football program. Before leaving the field, the seniors left their mark on a large number of underclassmen both on the varsity team and from the junior varsity team, some of whom were called up for NCS. Sophomore Jonathan Dinetz said that the seniors will be remembered for their excellent leadership on the team.
“They kept everyone in line almost as a coach.” Dinetz said,