Varsity football secures the trophy in annual Mt. Tam “RESPECT” Game

Olivia Brekhus

Senior wide receiver Alex Hagen celebrates after scoring a touchdown.

Once again, the varsity football team prevailed over Tamalpais High School (Tam) in the annual Mt. Tam “RESPECT” game, with a score of 36-6 in the Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) home opener. Fans flooded both the Redwood and visiting bleachers with high spirits, despite the scorching 90-degree heat. As senior Quinn Hailey gracefully sang the national anthem, hundreds of fans eagerly awaited the first whistle.

Senior Billy Gramajo’s full field kickoff initiated the game, and it wasn’t long before senior Joe Calzaretta had the ball back in his hands and scored the first touchdown, followed by a field goal by Gramajo. 

Senior wide receiver Alex Hagen and junior wide receiver Zach Ginsburg were crucial contributors towards the win, each scoring a touchdown. Just 30 seconds into the fourth quarter, senior running back Luke McKernan got his second touchdown of the game.

“We executed very well at the end of the game. We made most of the catches and we had hard running from Luke McKernan, which obviously helped us,” Gramajo said. 

According to Gramajo and junior Mikey Bender, their teammates are impressed by McKernan’s performance so far this year. His breakout season was prompted by the departure of 2018 MCAL Player of the Year Alex Aguero, allowing McKernan to step up and take on more responsibilities on the field.

“I was really happy for Luke [McKernan] yesterday. He has worked really hard to get to the point that he is at right now. He has been playing out of his mind,” Bender said. 

According to Bender, Gramajo has proven to be a strong addition to this year’s team. Gramajo has been an outstanding forward on the boys’ varsity soccer team for three years, and after playing in the U.S. Development Academy, he is now translating those skills to his role as the starting kicker for the football team.

Since this was a highly anticipated game, the team was under a lot of pressure, according to Bender.

“Our plan is to go one game at a time. Our goal was to finish the game 1-0. But we also wanted to make a statement to [the] league because this was our first league game and Tam is our rival,” Bender said. “We wanted to come out and play our hardest and put up a lot of points.”

As the team went on to score many points, they were also called for a few penalties. However, according to Bender, the coaches were proud of the way the team executed and worked hard throughout the game. 

The youngest player on the team, sophomore Jimmy Phelan, said that the team’s passing skills were spot-on against Tam, but moving forward they plan to work on their running. 

“We need to work on our blocking schemes to create holes for our running backs. Our game against TL should be a good opportunity to put these techniques into practice and show everyone what we are capable of,” Phelan said. 

The final score was a testament to the team’s commitment to winning the league this year. 

The Giants play their next game on Friday, Sep. 27 at Terra Linda High School at 7 p.m.