Woodside’s head football coach, Josh Bowie, stood in front of his troops Friday afternoon after a 42-13 win and reminded them that their win against San Mateo had been a tale of two halves.
And if you dig a little deeper into the Wildcats season, it’s looking more and more like the actual season is taking a similar metaphoric state.
After suffering through a gauntlet of a non-league schedule that saw Woodside go winless, the Wildcats are now 3-1 in the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division with a huge game against league-leader Burlingame High School (8-0, 3-0) still come to — this after defeating the Bearcats in dominating fashion in a game in which the Wildcats actually trailed. Woodside shut out San Mateo in the second half, turning an eight-point halftime lead into a four-touchdown romp. A win against Burlingame next week and things in the PAL Ocean Division will be very, very interesting.
But for the time being, Bowie and the Wildcats felt good about Friday’s win.
“When you look back at that film (from non-league play), it was really a matter of us beating ourselves,” Bowie said. “We had our opportunities and it was just to minimize our mistakes. When we do that, I think we’re a tough team to beat for anybody.”
Woodside proved just how tough in a game the Wildcats controlled in the first half and then dominated in the second behind a slew of San Mateo turnovers.
The Bearcats jumped out in front after a forcing an early Woodside punt. It took the Bearcats seven plays to travel 53 yards. All seven plays, they went to the rush attack and were rewarded when Watson Filikitonga did the honors from 16 yards out for the early 7-0 lead.
But the touchdown woke up Woodside. It took the Wildcats less than three minutes to tie the score. David Teu rushed for the majority of the 67 yards and that set up a 13-yard pass to Tommy Cook for the equalizing score.
The TD boosted Woodside’s confidence and once again, Teu did most of the damage. It was his 49-yard run that got the ball on the San Mateo 8-yard line two plays into the Wildcats’ next drive. Seconds later, Teu completed his work on his first touchdown run of the day to make it 14-7.
“He’s been doing it really quietly for us all year,” Bowie said of his running back, adding that’s Teu’s 700 yards rushing this season is probably the quietest in the league. “He’s been a grinder for us. He’s the epitome of a team player. All he does is go out there and work hard.”
Early in the second quarter, it was San Mateo’s turn to respond. The Bearcats did so by going 79 yards on 11 plays. Quarterback Jason Gonzalez had a couple of big late-down runs, but mostly the Bearcats stuck with Finau Hafoka to gain those tough yards. Gonzalez used his arm on 2nd-and-goal to find Cristian Zarco in the back on the end zone for a touchdown. The extra point try was no good to make the score 14-13.
But after doing such a great job of slowing down Woodside superstar playmaker Josh Holman — to the point that No. 10 went 17 minutes without touching the ball on offense — the Bearcats slipped up and Holman made them pay on a spectacular 80-yard touchdown reception for touchdown. Holman did most of the work on the wide receiver screen to make the score 21-13 going into recess.
“Even though we’re a spread team, our focus is on the running back,” Bowie said. “And when you run the ball effectively, you open up the perimeter for guys like Josh (Holman). We tried a couple new personnel packages that paid dividends for us. And we were really physical up front.”
The second half began with San Mateo getting a taste of what was to come offensively — mostly, frustration. The Bearcats took their initial drive deep into Woodside territory only to see 11 plays worth of work go to waste.
Fom there, fumbled snaps, loose balls and interceptions did them in.
To their credit, the Wildcats capitalized on those opportunities. After missing a field goal in the third, Woodside scored three times in the fourth. Teu ran in from four yards out five second into the fourth period. Holman pulled off another magic trick on a 58-yard pass play — only his second touch of the game — that resulted in another score. Then, with San Mateo in desperation mode, Mitchell Cockrum, who had intercepted a pass earlier in the game, got another gift and redeemed it for six points to further increase Woodside’s lead.
“We forced a bunch of things there at the end,” said San Mateo head coach Jeff Scheller. “There were some things we felt we would be able to do against Woodside coming in. We just didn’t execute. And Woodside did a good job of making the most out of their opportunities.”
“We really rallied to the football,” Bowie said of his second half defensive effort. “And you saw that with the three forced fumbles today. We focused a lot on being ball hawks all week. We took advantage of our opportunities.”
The loss drops San Mateo to 2-1 in Ocean play.