Varsity football loses semifinal match to Hercules High School, ending historic season


Eric Fang

Aaron Smith (11) attempts to outrun a Hercules player. The football team ended the season with eleven wins and one loss.

by Eric Fang, Global Editor

Varsity football lost the CIF semifinals to Hercules High School Titans 14 – 30 last Saturday at home. The loss ends both their historic 11-game win streak and their season. Harker’s final team record is 11-1.

Before the match, senior Krishna Bheda sang the national anthem. Team captains from both teams then met at the center of the field for the coin toss.

Hercules High School opted for Harker to receive the opening kickoff to begin the match and came out strong in the opening plays of the game. Titan safety Christian Posey picked off Harker quarterback Nate Kelly (12)’s throw and Titan wing back Julian Gutierrez scored a touchdown after running 59 yards. Titan kicker Devin Martinez kicked a successful extra point as well.

After a timeout, the Eagles started making progress, pushing into Titan territory. Harker running back Aaron Smith (11) fumbled the ball in the middle of the first quarter leading to a turnover.

More mistakes were made on Harker’s side when center James Pauli (12) snapped the ball into the Eagle’s own end zone leading to a two-point safety.

The first quarter ended 0-9 with Hercules High School in the lead immediately after a 24-yard kickoff return by the Titans. In the beginning of the second quarter, the Titans fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Harker kicker Dominic Cea (12). The Eagles made little progress in the following plays and punted the ball back to the Titans. Back on the offensive, the Titans scored two consecutive touchdowns with passes from quarterback Felix Reyes to wide receiver Kris Miles and Julian. Extending their lead, the score stood at 0-23 by halftime.

Anthony Contreras (12) believes the team’s low numbers may have contributed to their slow start in the first two quarters.

“Since we’re limited on numbers, everyone is just exhausted,” Anthony said. “When everyone’s exhausted, we tend to make more mistakes and the other team is clearly good enough to consistently take advantage of our mistakes and score because of them.”

Harker came back from halftime strong with back-to-back sacks on the Titans quarterback, forcing them to punt. Eagles wide receiver Floyd Gordon (12) scored the Eagles first touchdown of the night after catching a pass from Nate. Neither team managed to score on the other the rest of the third quarter.

Titan Jimmy Parker scored a pick six after running 28 yards and picking off Nate’s throw in the middle of the fourth quarter. Eagles wide receiver Anthony Contreras (12) caught a 33-yard throw for the last touchdown of the game.

“We had some penalties and made some mistakes regarding field position early on in the game, but we came back from halftime after being down three scores and battled the way we always do,” Head Football Coach Mike Tirabassi said. “We took it all the way down to the wire and I couldn’t be prouder.”

The final score was 14-30, with the Hercules High School Titans advancing to the division four championship against Fortuna high school. This match marks the end of a historic and previously undefeated football season for Harker.

“We hoped to go further in the playoff and do bigger things, so we’re all disappointed,” Harker wide receiver Angel Cervantes (12) said. “Nonetheless we had a great season that set a lot of records and it hurts that we couldn’t finish it the way we planned to.”

Coach Tirabassi hopes his seniors on the team will continue to improve and better themselves outside football season, and he looks forward to training for next year’s season with the current juniors, sophomores and freshmen.

“For the seniors, I want them to continue forward with what we’ve worked on, keep trying to be a better man everyday, keep fighting to improve, and I know they will because they’ve done that for four years,” Tirabassi said. “For everyone else on the team, it’s time to get to work pretty soon, worry about next year and try to go all the way next year.”