The Highlanders wrapped up a successful football season in late November with an overall 8-5 record and a trip to the NCS semi-finals against Cardinal Newman.
“This season was passionate and unpredictable in a good way,” varsity head coach James Holan said. “We’ve moved up to the Foothill league from the Shoreline league, because we were 10-0 two years ago. We definitely got excited about these more challenging games than for the ones where it was obvious who was gonna win or lose.”
The shift to the Foothill Division pitted Piedmont against Division I opponents, including Bishop O’Dowd and San Leandro High School, but the team rose to the challenge, varsity player junior Lane Bentley said.
The team had the toughest schedule that Piedmont has seen in 20 years, Holan said.
“The season really kicked off during the offseason, starting in the middle of January,” Holan said. “A successful season is often a reflection of a great offseason and the team worked hard and put in the time. It gave us the confidence to face this tougher schedule.”
Holan also said that the 18 returning seniors helped the team succeed.
This team-wide encouragement led the Highlanders to reject defeat, pushing them to persevere. In the NCS quarter-finals, this determination was evident as the team pulled out an upset win against Kennedy in the final quarter, Holan said.
“We have a saying that it’s not about them, it’s about us,” Holan said. “No matter how good or bad the team is, all we can control is our game.”
Piedmont’s quarter-final game against Kennedy High School was also an example of the team’s grit and grace under pressure; the Highlanders won 16-8 over the predicted winner by persevering through the very last play. Holan said it was rewarding to watch the team rise to the occasion.
“We’ve had some hard losses but I was proud to see the tremendous mental toughness and resilience of the team after playing these opponents,” Holan said.
Varsity team members junior Jacob Prager and Bentley said that the challenging season has brought the team together more than any other year.
“This is the best team I’ve been a part of,” Prager said. “I love the relationships I’ve developed. We’re all brothers. We would do anything for each other. It’s really special to have a group that’s like family and it definitely helps on the field.”
Bentley said that the Thursday night team dinners were the highlights of the year.
The team would get together before playing on Thursdays and share a meal. This is where the majority of the bonding occurred, Holan said.
“There are a lot of great memories made at the Thursday team feeds,” said Holan. “It’s where we all really connect.”
Varsity player senior Gordon Faust said that the team’s performance was fantastic overall. Even though the team faced teams with equal skill level and larger sizes, the team built a chemistry that showed on the field and helped them succeed and make it to the semi-finals.
“Although we ultimately didn’t win the championship, it was a very successful season and we will look to build on it in the years to come,” Prager said.