Freshmen complete historic season

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by John Sexton, sports editor

Football history was made this year, but it came from an unlikely source.

Cal High’s freshman football team became the first Grizzly football team at any level to go undefeated during the season.

The team cemented their perfect season and won the EBAL title with a resounding 17-7 victory over De La Salle on Nov. 10.

Defensive backs coach Joe Sussman said this freshman team was just plain good.

“If you had told me that this was the year we’d go undefeated, I wouldn’t be sure,” said Sussman, who also teaches health and PE at Cal.

The freshman coaching staff didn’t expect the level of talent that showed up this season.

The team also was smaller in numbers than in previous years. Past teams had up to 70-80 players, while this team had less than 50 players.

To make matters worse, starting quarterback Garret Lee blew out his knee five games into the season. But receiver Peter Farina came in to replace him, and didn’t miss a beat.

“It was just a different perspective of the game,“ Farina said of switching positions.

In football, it isn’t unusual to have a few players play both offense and defense. But this year’s team had eight players play both ways, including Farina, Simi Hingano and Zack Guardino.

Both Sussman and the players give most of the credit for the team’s success to first-year head coach Matt Hoefs, son of JV head coach Bill Hoefs.

“(Coach Matt Hoefs) cares about his players, and we like him,” said Hingano.

Hoefs’ preparation each week was outstanding. After film sessions, the players knew their opponent’s every tendency.

“There’s nothing our team saw that was a surprise each week,” said Sussman.

This helped the team take down powerhouses San Ramon Valley and De La Salle.

“Before we played them, San Ramon scored 40-50 points a game,” said Sussman. “We held them to three points.”

The team also held De La Salle to one touchdown in the first half.  Cal didn’t allow the Spartans to score at all in the second, a half the Spartans usually dominate.  Not this time.

Once the final horn sounded and the celebration began, one thing was clear about this  team: it wasn’t a fluke.

“This team was just good,” said Sussman.