Giants redeem themselves against Ukiah and maintain winning streak

Camille Ray

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The Redwood varsity football team endured 85-degree heat this past Saturday, Sep. 14, to pull off a redeeming 28-12 win against the Ukiah Wildcats and maintain their winning streak of two games. After losing to the team last year in a frustrating 14-42 loss, Redwood came into the game with a vengeful mindset. 

Senior quarterback Matt Smalbach helped Redwood get off to a good start, completing a short pass to senior running back Luke McKernan, who was able to charge 73 yards up the left sideline and secure the first touchdown of the game.

Staring down a Wildcat wide receiver, cornerback Zach Ginsburg prepares for the snap.

Keeping their momentum alive, senior middle linebacker Joey Calzaretta started the second quarter with an offensive fumble recovery that translated into a 65-yard touchdown. After a 10-yard penalty with 41.8 seconds left in the second quarter, senior wide receiver Alex Hagen caught a deep pass for another touchdown, closing the half with a 21-3 Giants lead. 

Calzaretta noted that Hagen and Smalbach’s perfectly calculated pass down the field was a result of Redwood’s overall exceptional ability to play as a team this year. 

“As a team, we play really well together. Our team chemistry is great and when we just play our game, no one can stop us,” Calzaretta said.

Junior outside linebacker Baptiste Schavsinski also believes that their improved team dynamic has allowed them to flourish.

Runningback Luke McKernan (2) celebrates a Redwood touchdown

“We all got really close this year. We act like a family and we emphasize being one. We’ve been bonding together outside of football too which has helped us a lot,” Schavsinski said. 

Eager for more points on the board after their halftime cooldown, McKernan obtained another 64-yard touchdown within the first two minutes. 

The Wildcats, desperate to respond, retaliated with a 45-yard run straight into the endzone. After Ukiah missed their extra-point kick, the third quarter ended with the Giants up 28-9. 

Calzaretta admitted their poor defense was what allowed the Wildcat touchdown.

“We didn’t keep tight pressure on them in the second half like we should have. It’s definitely something they’re going to make us run for in practice,” Calzaretta said.

Safety Nick Janowsky (4) sprints to tackle Ukiah Wildcats’ wide receiver

Despite numerous Redwood penalties in the second half, the Giants held their ground for a 28-12 win.

In light of their upcoming game against Tamalpais (Tam) High School, head coach Allen Talley expressed that regardless of their win, the team needs to remain humble since it is only the beginning of the season and they still have plenty of room for growth. 

“We’re going to focus on playing four quarters of good football and not being careless with the ball. We made too many little mistakes. It happens, but the biggest thing is to play solid football. That’s the only way we’ll be ready for Tam next week,” Talley said.

The Giants are set to face Tam at Redwood on Sept. 20 at 4 p.m.