Correction (Sept. 26): A previous version of this story incorrectly said that senior Pranad Reddy threw the 70-yard pass to junior Bob Entezar.
MVHS was still on the field after the game, with tears and sweat on their faces as they sat in their post-game huddle. As the shock of getting their thirteen year old trophy knocked out of their hands began to sink in, all they could do was keep their heads held high as they were forced to leave it all behind on the Cupertino HS field.
MVHS lost their annual Helmet game against the CHS Pioneers 28-20, despite a passionate drive late in the fourth quarter to hold onto their trophy helmet for one more year.
Not only was it a new year, there were also new issues as well. In the practices leading up to the game, senior starting quarterback Pranad Reddy was forced to sit out due to an ankle injury and could only participate in a few run-throughs during practice on Thursday. Added to the fact that the MVHS squad was still trying to find its endurance and stamina after their early losses of the season, they had to face the tough battle that was going to take place Friday night.
“We let [Reddy] rest to start,” varsity coach Adam Herald said. “But obviously he had to answer the bell. It was his time, so, we’re proud of the way he played and he’s definitely a guy we want to ride behind this season.”
When Reddy sat out during the first quarter, junior Bob Entezar stepped up into the starting quarterback role. Entezar had been preparing all week for the game against CHS. When he took to the field in the first half, he was feeling the full weight of the team on his back. On his first start as a varsity quarterback, he was being thrown into the fire during the biggest game of the year.
“Pressure. Beyond belief.”
The first quarter started slowly, with both teams stuck in a scoreless stalemate heading into the second. Once the second quarter started, however, the game took off with CHS striking first.
“We had a lot of mistakes. Personal issues, just like with every position,” senior Justin Yun said, “that was what killed us in the first quarter, especially in the first half of the game”
After running the ball into the MVHS side of the field and turning the ball over on downs, CHS was able to force a fumble and convert a 3-yard run to a touchdown. After the extra point and kickoff, MVHS turned over the ball again with yet another fumble. This time CHS returned the costly mistake all the way for a touchdown, giving them a 14-0 lead in successive possessions.
In the closing minutes of the half, with the lead still at 14-0, Entezar was able to complete a 70-yd pass to junior Jarrett James that eventually set up junior Owen Malone for a short touchdown that cut the lead in half. With less than a minute remaining, however, CHS scored once more before the break to steal all the momentum back from MVHS and return the lead back to 14.
“Second quarter, we kinda got it together,” junior starting quarterback Bob Entezar said. “There was a sixty yard pass or something down field, set us up for the touchdown to someone, I think Owen. That was the best. It doesn’t even matter though. It doesn’t even matter, because we lost.”
MVHS left their halftime huddle looking to capitalize on their resurgent passing game and to cut into the deficit. In the third quarter, however, a pass was intercepted by a CHS defensive back and their possession cut short. Even though MVHS was still able to mount a defense before another Cupertino HS point, an officiating error occurred before MVHS could seize on an opportunity to deny CHS points. The play in question: CHS fumbled on the drive gained by their interception, and MVHS picked up the ball. But before they picked up the ball, referees blew the whistle on the play signalling a dead ball. CHS didn’t convert on this possession, however since MVHS couldn’t carry the momentum of the recovered fumble forward they stalled in their offensive efforts from their own half of the field. CHS was able to take advantage of this stalled momentum when MVHS attempted to have their running back pitch the ball in the backfield and intercepted the ball to score a 28-7 lead going into the fourth quarter.
“It’s the third quarter, we’re down what, two touchdowns,” Entezar said. “That’s easy, it’s nothing, we could have come back. And then a pick, and just, it’s insult to injury.”
MVHS was down on the scoreboard, and on the verge of losing a winning streak that had been with them for thirteen years. Entezar had been injured in the shoulder at the end of the third quarter after being sacked, and Reddy was going back in to make 21 points and turn the momentum of the game. Although MVHS turned the momentum around, they couldn’t end the game with a win. Pushing their defense and offense to the limit, junior David Truong recovered a fumble in the opening of the quarter and ran it back for a touchdown. This touchdown was initially called off by the referees due to the ball being downed before it was in Truong’s possession. After further review by the referees however, the touchdown was given to MVHS.
“They were very much alive at that point,” coach Adam Herald said. “You could feel it on the sidelines, you could feel it up there, and down on the field, you could feel it.”
MVHS seized the opportunity with a new conviction that translated into a last minute stop by senior Vincent Kao. Kao stripped the ball from the kickoff receiver for CHS inches before the touchdown and gave MVHS the ball instead of a larger margin to overcome. Although he took a knee for a touchback, he ended up bringing the game closer into the grasp of MVHS. With four minutes left in the quarter, Malone ended the drive Kao started with a short run to the end zone.
“A lot had to go right, for us to solve it. We had to score a touchdown, which we did, we had to kick it and get an onside kick,” Entezar said. “We didn’t get an onside kick, so we had to convert [and]had to stop them on fourth down, and you saw the results.”
The results were grim. With seconds left in the game, after MVHS burned all their timeouts in attempts to get the ball back, CHS lined up in their victory formation and the MVHS side could do nothing but wait until the buzzer went off signaling their loss. In their postgame huddle, they could only watch as Principal April Scott walked across the field to give the cheering CHS side their long anticipated helmet.
“I’m sorry,” Entezar said. “Football’s not even that big of a deal at Monta Vista, and it sucks. In thirteen years, we let the school down. I let the school down. I just want to say sorry. I don’t know what to say. Next year.”
“When we lost the helmet, that only made the entire team want it even more.” Entezar said. “Before, we just kept winning it you know? It was kind of an expected thing, it was kind of taken for granted almost… Now that we lost it, all we want now, especially us juniors and sophomores, is that we’ll become seniors and juniors next year, and we just want it back.”
Additional reporting by Anthony Moll