Given the suspension of athletics in the county, the Daily Journal decided to dive into our 20-year archives to bring readers some of our favorite stories over the years.
NOV. 28, 2015 — It’s been a decade since the Half Moon Bay football team won its only Central Coast Section championship, beating Seaside 10-3 in the Small School title game in 2005.
“The only team in (school) history to go to the finals was 2005,” said Half Moon Bay head coach Keith Holden, who was an assistant on that championship team. “In Half Moon Bay, every team is compared to 2005.”
Well, start cranking up the comparisons because the 2015 team will be just the second team in school history to make it to the CCS championship game. The second-seeded Cougars ground out a 28-14 win over No. 3 Carmel in the a CCS Division V semifinal game in Half Moon Bay.
The Cougars will play top-seeded Pacific Grove (10-2) in the championship game. The Breakers got a late field goal to stun No. 4 Scotts Valley, 37-35.
Clinging to a 20-14 lead midway through the third quarter, Half Moon Bay (10-2) went to it’s “Jumbo” package — which everyone knows as the scrum. Over the final quarter-and-half, the Cougars picked up chunks of yardage at a time.
“We use it to kill clock,” Holden said. “We’re comfortable with it. We put all the pressure on our (offensive) line.
“It gets the ball to (Matt) Spigelman, who is our best player.”
Spigelman, a senior running back, was the main beneficiary of Half Moon Bay’s hard-to-stop offense. The senior rushed for a game-high 201 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries. Spigelman had five carries for 83 yards in the first half and added 111 on 19 second-half carries.
“He’s a stud,” Holden said of Spigelman. “He likes those situations. He likes when he’s challenged.”
The Half Moon Bay defense had challenges of its own — mainly, trying to stop a Carmel offense that came into the game averaging nearly 40 points per game. The Padres were coming a 50-47 first-round win over King’s Academy last week and looked unstoppable at times.
In the end, however, it was the Cougars defense that imposed its will. While Half Moon Bay did allow 324 yards of offense, but it held the Padres to just a pair of first-half touchdowns.
It appeared the game was destined to be a track meet as both teams marched up and down the field in the opening quarter. Half Moon Bay received the opening kickoff and promptly drove 70 yards on nine plays. Anthony Demartini and Chase Hofmann were the workhorses on the drive, combining for 43 yards.
But it was Spigelman who capped the drive with a 7-yard run for a 6-0 Cougars’ lead.
It was a short-lived advantage, however, as Carmel (8-4) needed just three plays to 43 yards. After losing a yard on their first play from scrimmage and an incomplete pass, the Carmel quarterback took the snap, bolted upfield and went 44 yards for the score. The extra point gave the Padres a 7-6 lead.
The Cougars answered right back. Starting from their own 26, they methodically moved down the field. Facing a second-and-goal from the Carmel 7-yard line, Hofmann took a handoff up the middle, churning his way to about the 2 before burrowing into the end zone to put Half Moon Bay up 13-7 with 1:11 to play in the first quarter.
Carmel embarked on a long drive that bridged the first and second quarters before ultimately punting. The Cougars took over at their own 20 and for the third time on three drives, they took it in for the score. After picking up an initial first down, Half Moon Bay had a second-and-7 from its own 34. Spigelman took an option pitch from quarterback Gavin Tomberlin and scampered 66 yards for a touchdown to put the Cougars up 20-7 with 5:17 left in the first half.
Carmel responded with arguably its best drive of the game, going 87 yards on 15 plays and scoring from 2 yards out with under 30 seconds left in the first half.
The two teams exchanged punts to start the second half before Carmel drove from the Half Moon Bay 45 to the 14 before the drive stalled. The Padres attempted a 31-yard field goal, but it was blocked.
Two plays into the Cougars’ next possession, they turned to Spigelman and the scrum. Over the final 16 minutes and 29 seconds of the game, Half Moon Bay picked up 10 first downs.
Holden said what makes the scrum so effective is its hard to prepare for.
“It’s hard to have your scout team emulate it in practice,” Holden said.
Spigelman scored his third touchdown of the game to cap a 15-play, 81-yard drive, going in from 3 yards out.
Now, the Cougars get a chance to win another CCS title 10 years after winning their first. But Holden and his team are just enjoying the ride.
“It’s not every year you play in a semifinal game,” Holden said. “We just want them (the players) to appreciate what they have.”