Varsity football suffers 35-7 homecoming loss against Marin Catholic

Caroline Goodhart

When Redwood’s football team took a seven point lead on their first offensive drive on the Oct. 16 homecoming game against Marin Catholic (MC), confidence radiated throughout the field, the sideline and the crowd. Junior Rowe Stodolnic’s 45-yard reception was the first touchdown Redwood had scored against MC in two years, and the fast scoring drive gave many players an optimistic outlook on the game. 

“I was going crazy. The whole team was amped. We were all motivated, and we were like, ‘wow, we really got a shot at this,’” senior middle linebacker Hudson Brekhus-Lavinsky said.

MC was quick to counter with a rushing touchdown on their first offensive drive from sophomore running back Charles Williams. As the game progressed, Redwood struggled to get the ball moving on offense against MC’s dominant defensive line, and penalties continually prevented first downs. Giving up two more touchdowns in the first half, the defense was unable to slow down the Wildcats’ dynamic offense, leaving the score 21-7 as Redwood’s cheerleaders and homecoming court took the field for halftime. 

Senior safety and wide receiver Zack Johnson explained that after MC’s 3rd touchdown, the team was beginning to feel thwarted and disheartened. 

“They had been pounding us with the run, and they just got a big play,” Johnson said. “There was an [offensive] hold the play before, and it didn’t get called. We were all frustrated, and then they punched it in [and went] up by two [touchdowns]. We couldn’t really get anything going.” 

Johnson explained that in the first half, Redwood had dropped a linebacker to a hybrid safety position to guard any receivers. This proved ineffective, as Redwood’s defense was too spread out to guard MC’s running back, Williams, who totaled three touchdowns. 

“Our biggest mistake was underestimating their run. We always prepare for their pass,” Johnson said. “We looked at [Williams], and we knew he was good, but he’s a sophomore. We were anticipating the pass more than the run. And they just destroyed us with the run.” 

As a result, the Giants moved back to their regular defensive coverage, which consists of man-to-man on one side of the field and zone on the other. This defensive strategy proved somewhat more effective, as Redwood only gave up two touchdowns in the following half. 

While the defense implemented a new game plan, Redwood’s offense continued to struggle to protect their quarterback, Brady Weingart. They continued to use mostly short runs and passes to attempt to push through MC’s defense. Redwood’s senior center and defensive tackle, Jimmy Phelan, attributed the weak offense to a variety of factors, including MC’s powerful defensive line and Redwood’s loss of stamina due to a large portion of players playing both defense and offense. 

“We’ve got a lot of new guys [who] haven’t played much, and we’ve got some kids playing both ways on the line. Sometimes we get tired, and we are not in [good enough] shape. We really need to work on our protection, especially if we’re going to be an air-raid offense,” Phelan said. “We do not even need to run the ball that well, we just have to make sure [Weingart] doesn’t get sacked. There’s pressure coming off from everywhere, and we’re all collectively not doing the greatest job. But we’ll work on it and we’ll fix it.”

A bright spot for Redwood was their junior kicker and punter, Conor Weasler, who helped the team get out of tough situations multiple times. Williams remarked that although he was extremely effective in running through Redwood’s defense, returning punts was the biggest challenge he faced in the game.

“He’s a really good kicker. He kicked the ball in the right spot, and it kind of confused me a little bit when he kicked it,” Williams said.

While the 35-7 loss left many Redwood players feeling frustrated, the team remains optimistic. Coach Allen Talley believes that his players showcased many points of strength, and their mentality was the biggest factor leading to the loss. He believes the team needs to fix its mental mistakes in order to fight through to the playoffs. 

“Everybody makes mistakes, and we correct them. But when you make too many mental mistakes, it’s hard to recover,” Talley said. “But, the kids fought through today, and they did not give up.”