By GERARDO RECINOS
All odds were against Alhambra football on Friday night, and it was clear to see why when the Campolindo machine stepped onto the field.
The game, which looked like the team’s homecoming parade with how they marched up and down the field, ended in a 47-20 defeat for the Bulldogs, but the Cougars’ first quarter outburst was all they needed to keep their winning streak intact.
The defending state champions are deep, and everyone knows it, but they also haven’t lost a game in Diablo Foothill Athletic League play in over five years under Coach Kevin Macy.
They’ve only lost once this season in a shocker against a very good Napa High School team, and have only been beaten four times over the last four years overall.
“They’re obviously the better team, but we had a little bit of adversity before we even started,” Coach Alan Hern said, referencing key injuries to Jonathan McCart, who doubles as safety and running back, and Josh Ramirez, who doubles as a receiver and a corner. Ramirez played through an ankle injury, but was on the field sparingly, while McCart was unable to dress for the game.
Things went from bad to worse pretty quickly in the opening quarter. The secondary found themselves in another mismatch when it came to size.
Campolindo’s Jacob Westphal exposed that mismatch by hitting big target Max Flower on a perfect corner route to set up Matthew Ringquist’s opening touchdown from 10 yards out.
Westphal and Flower connected once more on the next possession after a bad snap on a punt gave the Cougars two more points, and the ball back. The junior signal caller hit Flower from 55 yards out.
The dynamic duo connected once more from 18 yards out, and was followed up by a touchdown run by tailback Nikki Moore before Alhambra could get on the board once.
A struggling Zach Elliott managed to connect with sophomore receiver Jeremy Abraham, who beat his man in man coverage to finally get Alhambra on the board.
For a second, it looked like Alhambra would be able to soften the score line against the Campo second unit, but that notion disappeared 17 seconds later.
On their first play from scrimmage, Campo’s Westphal connected with the streaking Kannah Cruikshank for a 52-yard dagger into Alhambra.
The Bulldogs were reeling, and coming into the start of the second half, even forcing Campo to settle for a field goal was a win. Matt Blair then proceeded to set a Campolindo record by drilling a field goal from 46 yards.
The Bulldogs couldn’t win in any aspect of the game.
Consolation scores from Elliott to Paul Bromley, and Daniel Boyd on a plunge from four yards out, did little to make the ride home any better, but now the Bulldogs have exited from the toughest part of their schedule.
They’ve entered their mini three-game season. It’s simple: win and you’re in.
The Bulldogs can limp into the playoffs even if they only win one of their next three games, but Coach Hern is already planning ahead.
“They know it’s homecoming, they know they have to win to get in, they know they have maybe only three games left, for the seniors,” Hern said. “If we do well in the next three games we can get seeded high enough to get another home game.”
Hern’s done the math, done the research of the weakened Division III that’s lost Marin Catholic and Cardinal Newman (seeded third and eighth respectively in last year’s North Coast Section playoffs) so he knows that there is still plenty left to play for.
“If we get to 6-4 and they way Division III is structured, we could see these guys again in the final if we play well,” Hern said. “You got to play well to get into the tournament, and then make things happen.”