The Calaveras High School football team didn’t need any extra motivation heading into their homecoming game, but Summerville gave it to them anyway. Calaveras’ players and coaches used a pregame incident where they felt disrespected by Summerville, as the spark they needed to put on a show and defend their home field.
It worked, as Calaveras thrashed the Summerville Bears 42-0 Friday night at Frank Meyer Field. So, what did Summerville do that got under the skin of those on Calaveras’ side of the field?
During pregame warmups, the Bears took the field and headed to the 50-yard line. They stood on the yellow soccer circle that surrounds the big red ‘C’ in the middle of Frank Meyer Field and goes 10-yards deep on both sides of the 50. The problem is that 10 yards onto Calaveras’ side of the field, the Calaveras defensive backs were in the middle of their pregame warmups and bumping into white jerseys interrupted that.
Summerville did its pregame ritual and then returned to its side of the field. Although the incident was short, Calaveras head coach Doug Clark was none too pleased with what he saw from the visitors.
“I know that teams do a lot of different things,” Clark said about pre game rituals. “Their team, during warmups, came charging to the middle of the field, which I have no problem with. They wanna stomp on our ‘C’ or cross over the 50, not a problem. But, they came 10 yards onto our side and got right into the middle of our defensive back pregame warmup and acted like it was no big deal. There are things that you can do; but it was just a complete lack of respect.”
Clark wasn’t the only one on Calaveras’ side of the field who was bothered by the “lack of respect” shown by Summerville before the game even began.
“It made me very upset,” Calaveras senior quarterback and defensive back Nolan Dart said. “I feel that it fueled our desire to win.”
If Summerville crossing onto Calaveras’ side of the field during pregame warmups was all it took to unleash the fury, it worked. Less than three minutes into the game, Calaveras had a 14-0 lead.
Summerville had its best play of the night on the opening kickoff and returned the ball all the way to the Calaveras 32-yard line. But on the third play from scrimmage, Calaveras junior Clayton Moore stripped the ball out of a Summerville receiver's hands and Dart picked up the fumble and returned it 62 yards for the first score of the game.
“I saw my boys trying to jump on the ball and I saw it slip out behind them,” Dart said. “I knew that because they were on the ground creating that pile, that I had time to scoop it up and get the edge.”
On the ensuing kickoff, Summerville muffed the kick and put the ball on the turf. Moore jumped on the fumble and Calaveras took over on the Summerville 13-yard line. Two plays later, Calaveras sophomore Jake Hopper scored from 8 yards out and senior Andrew Celli tacked on the PAT to give Calaveras a 14-0 lead with 9:34 to play in the first quarter.
On Summerville’s first play following the touchdown, starting senior running back and linebacker Nick Veach left the game with an injury and didn’t return. Calaveras’ defense didn't allow Summerville to get a first down in the first quarter and scored once more in the opening frame, as Moore found the end zone from 6 yards out. With 2:19 to play in the first quarter, Calaveras had all the momentum and a 21-0 lead.
“You never want to see a kid go down. Never,” Clark said about the injury to Veach, which affected Summerville on both sides of the ball. “No matter what happens in any scenario, there’s no scenario in the game of football where you want to see a kid go down. Ever. But, we had all the momentum going. It just felt like everything was going to go right and that it was going to be our night.”
Calaveras extended its lead early in the second quarter. With the ball resting on Calaveras’ 30, Dart dropped back to pass and saw the junior receiver Jake Black had multiple steps on the cornerback. Dart delivered a perfect pass and the speedy Black had nobody in front of him on his way to a 70-yard touchdown.
Calaveras scored once more before heading to the locker room at halftime. Moore ran through a big hole created by senior center Tyler Peoples and Hopper and went untouched into the end zone.
“The line was phenomenal,” Moore said. “There was no weakness anywhere from them tonight. My guys just wanted to kick butt and that’s exactly what they did.”
After the homecoming festivities concluded and senior Gabriella Malamed was crowned homecoming queen, Calaveras returned to the field with a 35-point lead. Midway through the third quarter, junior Phoenix Nguyen scored on a 25-yard run and broke multiple tackles in the process. But the play was called back due to a penalty. Later on the drive, the same misfortune happened to Dart, as he had a 14-yard touchdown called back.
But even after two touchdowns were wiped out because of penalties, Nguyen got his number once again called and he scored from 11-yards out to give Calaveras a 42-0 lead.
“I wasn’t really that mad,” Nguyen said about having his first touchdown called back. “I was just happy that I was on the field, but getting that touchdown was amazing.”
Calaveras had no problem moving the ball on the ground. Calaveras rushed for 301 yards on 44 attempts for an average of 6.84 yards per carry. Moore rushed for a game-high 145 yards and two scores. Calaveras’ line was praised by coaches at the end of the game, but there was one lineman who was especially happy to assist in a victory.
Junior tackle Caden Villegas missed the last four games with an injury and was thrilled to be back out on the field for homecoming night.
“It felt amazing,” Villegas said. I hated being the water boy. I ran more as the water boy than I did as a lineman. It was horrible.”
Defensively, Calaveras held Summerville to only 57 yards passing and 68 yards on the ground. Summerville only averaged 2.83 yards per carry.
Calaveras has now won three straight and looks to have found its groove. But in order to make that four wins in a row, it will need to knock off undefeated Amador next week in Sutter Creek. And after that, Calaveras will stay on the road and try to ruin Sonora’s homecoming.
“It’s more than just back to business,” Clark said. “We have our two-week fall break in school, which is a difficult time when we have our two biggest league games coming up. But like I said last week, we are starting to jell more and more and it happened again this week. The team is bonding. The team is getting along. Everything is falling into place and I just hope we keep it going.”