By Collin Qian and Keshav Taneja
The evening started out like any other. Against the setting sun, the marching band tuned their instruments as both teams warmed up. Students donned in red and purple flocked in the stands at Cupertino HS, as the chatter and anticipation before the game steadily increased.
The Matadors stormed the field, with the burden of taking back the helmet resting on their shoulders. As the National Anthem came to a close, senior running back Josiah Figueroa passionately charged onto the field screaming, electrifying his teammates and the crowd.
Senior Josiah Figueroa runs past a CHS defender. Figueroa was a big presence on both offense and defense throughout the game.
“This rivalry means the world to us,” Figueroa said. “It really has been back and forth. We beat them fourteen years in a row [and] they've beaten us for the past three years.”
Going into the game, the Matadors expected a competitive affair, but the situation quickly took a turn as a few turnovers and costly penalties gave CHS an early advantage.
“Our expectations were that we were going to beat them 42-0, but it ended up being lopsided and that's our fault — not on our coaches, but on us,” Figueroa said.
Dominating in the run game, CHS scored two touchdowns from long runs which gave them an early 14-0 lead.
In the second quarter, CHS continued its command of the game as a 30-yard touchdown run gave them a 21-point lead. However, MVHS didn’t let this hurt their confidence as senior wide receiver Derek Zheng scored a touchdown to end the half with a score of 21-7.
Senior Derek Zheng prepares to take the handoff from quarterback Cheto Vasquez. Zheng had a good game running as he scored one of the Matadors two touchdowns.
The Matadors went into the second half with similar intensity, hoping to close the margin. But the gap was soon widened as the CHS quarterback ran 40 yards to score another touchdown, bringing the score to 28-7. CHS kept MVHS scoreless in the third and continued to tack on points as the third ended with a score of 35-7.
As all hope of making a comeback withered away, the Matadors conceded one more touchdown in the fourth quarter, but also managed to score one of their own, making the final score 42-15. Throughout the game, the Matadors were trailing, but the players didn’t let the score get into their heads.
“[They had] more power and we couldn't win it,” Figueroa said, “I think we never gave up [from] the first quarter to the fourth quarter. We had the same intensity.”
Though CHS was the better team in this year’s helmet game, MVHS head coach Ceazar Agront believes the history of the game and tension between teams contributed to the overall outcome of the game.
“When it comes to rivalry games, you can't ever count your rival out. It depends on who wants to show up, and the biggest thing was, [CHS] wanted it more tonight,” Agront said. “Not saying that [CHS] were the better team or we are a better team. I think it just happened the way it happened due to the rival factor."