El Camino High dealt host Gunn a heartbreaking, 38-28, loss in its season-opening football game on Friday night, but the players didn't see it as a complete wash. The Titans played their visitors tough and infused themselves with confidence, which sent waves of hope through the Gunn fan base.
“The new coaching staff has really breathed some new life into the entire program,” Gunn senior and four-year starter Andrew Maltz said. “By far, the best part about this game was our enthusiasm and hope within the team. We knew the whole way along that we were still in the game, and even after we finished the game, we knew it was a revolutionary game and a huge step in the right direction.”
The last three years have been nightmarish for the Titans. This year the team can start dreaming.
Gunn was shut out five times last year and scored more than one touchdown in a game on two occasions. Bryant Cervantes took care of getting the Titans on the board two minute into it, nailing a 27-yard field goal as Gunn took advantage of an El Camino fumble.
The momentum swung back, though,when the Colts responded with a field goal and a touchdown, giving them the lead.
Gunn remained within striking distance the entire game, matching field goal for field goal and touchdown for touchdown. The Titans, showing some grit, managed to regain the lead, 28-24, early in the fourth quarter.
The game slipped away, though, as the Colts scored back-to-back touchdowns in the final quarter to take control. Even the 38 points allowed showed improvement. The Titans gave at least 40 points in eight games last year.
This Gunn football team showed an enthusiasm not seen for a while. There was plenty for the fans to cheer.
During the offseason, Gunn rebuilt its football team drastically, hiring an entire new coaching staff, headed by Tony Kelly, a 10-year veteran and local hero after his contribution to the state championship at Paly in 2010.
“My goal is to change the culture; we expect to win,” Kelly said. “When you lose for a while, it becomes second nature to people to expect to lose.”
Along with him, nine other coaches were added to the coaching staff. One of them is Steve Rochlin, who played at Cal and was part of the antics of “The Play,” in the 1982 Big Game. The new staffs' impact on the team can already be seen in the score.
Despite the loss, hopes are high for the future. Gunn received contributions on offense from multiple players: touchdowns from Hudson Alexander, DJ Barnes, Edmond Wu and Etienne Daadi.
The defensive line also held their ground for most of the game, shutting down El Camino in phases of the second and third quarters.
“These coaches are going to be the critical mass behind the team that leads us to victory, and I can't wait to see where the road takes us as a program in the future,” Maltz said. “This game, score aside, was one of the best games that I've played in since my first varsity game in 2013, and I couldn't be more proud of what we did tonight.”
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