Gunn played well enough this season to position itself for a chance to win its first football title in seven years. The Titans didn't quite make it after losing to host Homestead 42-21 in a Santa Clara Valley Athletic League El Camino Division contest Friday night.
"That's all a coach can ask for, being in position to win a title on the final day of the season," Gunn coach Jason Miller said. "The JVs were playing for a title too (they also lost). We played a quality team that is going to the playoffs. It gives our guys a taste of what we need to do to get to the next level."
The Titans (8-2, 4-2) mingled on the field, junior varsity players included, long after the game was over and the Mustangs were headed off to their locker room. It was as though they didn't want to consider their season over.
It might not be over if the Central Coast Section committee, which meets Sunday, somehow finds Gunn worthy of one of the top 40 spots. It's a long shot though. The Titans finished third in a league considered a notch below the De Anza Division. If desire and commitment were part of the criteria, Gunn would be one of the first teams selected.
"We just aren't there yet," Miller said. "We had a great season, an improved season. We'll go to the meeting and see if we're invited. If we're not, we'll turn in our uniforms and get ready for next year."
Ken Erlan, who Miller considers the best lineman in the league, wasn't able to play and there were critical plays, twice failing to convert on fourth and short plays, once coming up less than an inch short.
"We struggled on fourth downs but that's the way things go sometimes," Miller said. "It's about the next man up."
The good news is that Erlan is a junior and will return next season. Running back Richard Jackson is also a junior and he's playing his best football. After gaining 95 yards last week, he took the ball 21 times and willed his way to 133 yards. He also scored the Titans first touchdown.
While Jackson gained 113 of his yards in the first half, senior fullback Eitan Smolyar raced for 94 yards (of 121 total) in the second half, scoring on consecutive offensive plays of 25 yards and 53 yards.
Junior lineman Sione Fisiiahi saved the first scoring drive by recovering a loose ball. The Titans also lost a fumble that led to a Homestead touchdown.
Homestead's Harold Rucker III, whose father was a CCS champion triple jumper, needed just eight carries to gain 136 yards and score three touchdowns. He also caught the only pass the Mustangs attempted. He's so sure-handed that he's also the holder on PATs. He scored on a 91-yard kickoff return, a 92-yard run and a 12-yard run.