The Knights fell short on their quest for the school’s first ever CCS championship. Photo by Pam Tso McKenney.
By Connor Van Ligten
It was a valiant effort by the Knights, but a strong first half ultimately wasn’t enough to beat the Gilroy Mustangs in the CCS Division V Football Championship. The team fought hard but was outmatched in a 38-21 loss, ending another great season for the team at an 8-5 record.
Despite the final score, the game was very competitive. Big plays from senior quarterback Emilio Simbeck, senior running back Aidan Israelski, and the defense forcing a turnover in Gilroy territory helped Menlo jump to a 7-3 advantage in the first quarter. The Knights kept up their momentum in the second quarter, answering Gilroy’s touchdown with a quick scoring drive of their own thanks to a deep pass from Simbeck to David Schmaier at the end of the first half. The Knights came out after two quarters with a 14-10 lead.
In the second half, Menlo received the kickoff but ended up punting. Big plays from Gilroy’s skill players lead to a 17-14 lead for the Mustangs. On the ensuing drive, senior Simbeck attempted a deep pass that was intercepted by the Mustangs. Gilroy ended up scoring a rushing touchdown on that drive, taking a 24-14 lead. Menlo came out strong to start the 4th quarter, driving all the way to Gilroy’s 22 yard line thanks to big plays by the offense. However, Menlo fumbled the ball and the Mustangs recovered.
The Mustangs would score again, and Menlo was able to cut the lead to 10 again late in the 4th quarter before Gilroy scored off of a recovered onside kick to effectively end the game.
Although the Mustangs won by 17 points, the game was neck and neck for the majority of the 4 quarters. The Knights were always within striking distance, with Simbeck leading the charge in his final game. However, costly turnovers and a powerful rushing attack from Gilroy ultimately put an end to what is still a highly successful season for the Knights.