Redwood varsity football slams Maria Carrillo in first home game of the season

Nicole Johnson

Saturday, Aug. 31 brought 90-degree heat, considerable crowds and a 51-16 win over the Maria Carrillo Pumas for Redwood varsity football. In their first home game of the regular season, the Giants dominated the field in a complete turnaround from their 27-21 loss last weekend to Berkeley High School.

Senior running back Joey Calzaretta began the onslaught, bagging the Giants’ first touchdown after a 20-yard rush by fellow senior running back Luke McKernan. Redwood ended the first quarter with a thirteen-point lead over the Pumas, thanks to a defensive touchdown by junior Damon Gerstein. 

Running back Luke McKernan watches as Zach Ginsburg makes a punt return for a Redwood touchdown.

Making great headway in the second quarter, McKernan rumbled for a 50-yard run and two plays later swiftly entered the endzone to make the game 19-0. Junior Zach Ginsburg later caught a touchdown pass from senior quarterback Matt Smalbach and also scored on a 44-yard punt return just two minutes after. Hungry to get on the board, Maria Carrillo player Jack Sherman scored the first touchdown for the Pumas just as the buzzer blared, ending the first half at 44-7, Giants.

McKernan, who accumulated nearly 200 of Redwood’s 298 running yards in the game, attributed their bounce back to the team dynamic this season.

“We didn’t have that many seniors last season, so we have a bunch of [previous] juniors who were on the team last year and we all have a really tight bond together. It’s kind of like a big family; we all watch out for each other and have connected in a way,” McKernan said.

Senior Nick Janowsky reaches out for a fist bump as the team waits to storm the field following a successful first half.

This teamwork carried on through the third quarter as the Giants rode their first half momentum to make the score 51-7, courtesy of a touchdown by junior Thomas Johnson. Maria Carrillo retaliated, returning junior Baptiste Schavsinski’s kick to secure their second touchdown after a special teams slip-up by Redwood. However, the Pumas were unable to overcome the early beatdown from the Giants, and scored just two more points as the game closed at 51-16.

Calzaretta has found a renewed confidence in the team given their progress from a rough start to the season last week.

“I feel amazing. I think it was a really good team effort and I’m not trying to sound corny but literally everyone was on it; offense, defense, multiple people scored touchdowns, so it felt like a good overall team win to the end. This year we have really good leaders and everyone’s feeding off that good energy,” Calzaretta said.

Senior Jack Loebbaka catches a pass from Matt Smalbach before being brought down by a Maria Carrillo Puma.

Head coach Allen Talley shared the satisfaction of his players but hopes the team maintains its humility and intensity for what’s to come in their schedule.

“We just want to be successful [this season]. We’ve got one goal: energy, finish everything, play together as one and be a family. All we worry about is our next opponent. We don’t care about anything else down the road,” Talley said.

The Giants will face Ukiah on Sept. 14, 2 p.m. at Redwood.