First Cougars Home Game

The Half Moon Bay High School Cougars JV football game was a big event on Friday. Emma Spaeth / Review

The Half Moon Bay High School junior varsity football team was defeated by San Mateo High School 14-0 in the first league home game of the season on Friday. The varsity team was unable to play due to a COVID-19 case on the Bearcats team.

“Our greatest strength tonight was our inside run, our inside pass plays where we had it running up down the field,” said Colt Mobley, Half Moon Bay High School assistant coach. “We need to work on just holding onto the ball, on possessions. Overall, we’ve done it. We did everything (well). Now we’ve got to capitalize on the good field positions.”

The Bearcats got off to a strong offensive start in the first quarter, putting up seven points with a 29-yard run and 40 seconds to go in the quarter. The Cougars weren’t able to get past the 50-yard line in the first quarter before the buzzer and walked onto the field for the second quarter down 7-0.

Half Moon Bay showed a new defensive enthusiasm in the second but struggled to get past San Mateo’s defensive line. Strong passes by quarterback Dusty Dimas contributed to slow but relentless offensive progress for the Cougars and brought them within the 20-yard line and spitting distance of the end zone for the first time in the game.

A fumble at the 2-yard-line with 2:23 to go in the half gave the Bearcats the ball, but the Cougars kept them within five yards for the next three downs.

Spirits were still high during the halftime break and the Pop Warner Pee Wee and Mighty Might Cheer teams performed in a special halftime show after the high school cheer squad.

Half Moon Bay nearly recovered the ball to start the half but San Mateo claimed the offensive possession. They ran for 57 yards on the first down, scoring just 15 seconds into the half and sealing the Cougars’ fate.

“They had a great effort,” said Thomas Walrod, Half Moon Bay High School assistant coach. “(Devin) Buckley came in on such short notice, changing positions and also, Roman (Grabowski.) Those two guys on defense have really stepped it up and are locked into their positions.”

Despite the lopsided score, the crowd was large at Friday afternoon’s game as the community celebrated the return of Half Moon Bay football at home.

“Football is one of those sports that really brings the community together,” said Half Moon Bay High School Principal John Nazar. “I value every sport that we have because every student is involved in it, it’s important to them and they get to be involved. It’s more than just the game. It’s the thing I think unifies our school community.”

So far it doesn’t look like the risks of COVID-19 have affected athlete interest or turnout at the high school.

“I’ve seen a (participation) boom,” said Mobley. “First week of school we had three more students join, second week of school we had four more on top of that. Now that we are getting back to more of a ‘norm’ we’re going to have more students that want to keep going, want to push that envelope and make sure they are still being safe, but want to go out there and do some extracurriculars this year.”

The junior varsity football team has more players than in the last few years and the high school is able to field freshman, junior varsity and varsity volleyball teams. They also have healthy numbers for boys and girls water polo, girls tennis, girls golf, cross country and cheerleading.

“It’s been a challenge,” Mobley said. “Most of these kids have been out for a year and a half without any sports, without any conditioning so it’s a little rough getting back into it but their hearts and souls are into it and they are progressing every week.”

Nazar added that the teams are abiding by the California Department of Public Health guidelines and engaging in responsible behavior.

“It’s just great seeing the kids get out there and really understand and learn the game of football and have a full season to expand on that,” said Walrod.

Emma Spaeth is a staff writer for the Half Moon Bay Review covering community, arts and sports. Emma grew up in Half Moon Bay before earning a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Oregon.

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