Other than its fans jumping the gun early and charging the field before the game was over, there was very little that went wrong for the Campolindo of Moraga football team on Friday.
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The Cougars were playing their rivals from Miramonte of Orinda, who were 8-0, in a matchup at Bob Wilson Field between two of the top-ranked teams in the San Francisco Bay Area and used line dominance and opportunistic defense to roll up a 37-0 victory.
Last year’s 16-0 CIF Division III state champions improved to 8-1 with their only loss still being the one to unbeaten Napa, which is expected to be one of the top seeds in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs.
Miramonte hadn’t scored less than 34 points in any of its previous games and although standout receiver Sutter Lindberg went down with an injury in the second quarter there wasn’t much the Matadors could do against Campolindo’s defense.
“There’s been a lot of talk that this is supposed to be (Miramonte’s) year and we wanted to show that it’s not so,” said senior cornerback Devin Regan, who had two second half interceptions.
“This team is different than last year, but in bits and pieces we’re coming together,” he continued. “We’ll use this as another step to see where it takes us.”
Junior receiver Kannah Cruickshank got the Halloween-themed night off to a great start for Campolindo by returning the opening kickoff for 97-yard touchdown.
Miramonte QB Tim Tague had a tough night with four interceptions and there was one segment of the game in the second quarter when a short punt and not converting on a fourth down from its own 27-yard line led to two Cougars’ touchdowns and a 23-0 halftime lead. Tague entered the game with 2,551 yards passing and 27 touchdowns.
Offensively, Campo halfback Niki Moore just missed 100 yards with 99 yards on 18 carries while fullback Jack Cassidy bulled his way into the end zone for two TDs. Junior QB Jacob Westphal threw a 9-yard TD pass to Max Flower and scored himself on a short run.
The most impressive player on the field, however, may have been 6-foot-5, 270-pound lineman Sterling Strother. He and his Cougar linemates – including Wyatt McNeil (6-3, 250) and Parker Duncan (6-1, 230) – repeatedly pushed around Miramonte’s smaller defensive front.
With a running clock in the fourth quarter, Miramonte used its last timeout to attempt a field goal to avoid the shutout with one second left. Before that happened, however, officials had to clear the field after Campolindo’s students charged, most not seeing the timeout indication.
“Their stats have kind have been rubbed in our noses a little bit,” said Campolindo head coach Kevin Macy. “But that’s their style of play. Tonight it was our style of play.”
Looking toward the CIF North Coast Section playoffs, Campolindo seems assured of the top seed in Division III once again and it does not look like that D3 field is going to be as difficult as in the past, especially with teams like Marin Catholic (Kentfield) and Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) staying in D4 this time.
The NorCal and CIF state bowl games also may be quite different since divisions won’t be known this year until the seedings are actually done. Campolindo, therefore, could be in a D2 bowl game this time (either D2AA or D2A) and not D3.
“We just wanted to keep it simple,” Macy said. “It was being physical and simple. I felt maybe we cheated our fans by being too vanilla, but that was the game plan.”