One last chance to witness greatness - Gilroy Dispatch: Columnists

One last chance to witness greatness

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Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2007 12:00 am

If you live in Gilroy and haven't seen a high school football game this year, you're on notice.

You only have one more opportunity to watch the best team Gilroy High School has ever assembled, in what will be the biggest game the Mustangs have ever been a part of.

And if you didn't attend Saturday's 40-34 victory over Los Gatos in the Central Coast Section's Open Division playoffs, you missed one of the greatest games in GHS – even CCS – history.

All of the hyperbole is warranted.

To date, this season's edition of the Mustangs have now won their first outright league title since 1981, tied the school record of 10 wins set in 1985 and advanced to the school's first-ever CCS championship game.

Gilroy Coach Rich Hammond compared the semifinal contest to a "Rocky" movie – two heavyweights trading blows for the better part of three hours. Each squad held a lead three times in a seesaw battle that showcased points scored on offense, defense and special teams.

GHS quarterback Jamie Jensen helped deliver the knockout when he found Travis Reyes in the corner of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown catch with only 4.2 seconds remaining.

"It was a battle and a half," Hammond said after the game. "I'm proud of our kids – most incredible football game I've ever been a part of."

The final play is one that will be remembered for years to come.

"Me and Jamie kind of looked at each other, we saw the one-on-one coverage, and it was kind of a mismatch," Reyes said. "I saw the ball in the air and it was like slow motion – and I caught it … Game over."

What preceded the spectacular finish was an equally spectacular 47-plus minutes of football.

Swiping a trick play from Boise State's playbook that was used in last year's Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma, GHS pulled out all the stops before the first half was even over.

With 18 seconds left in the second quarter, Los Gatos' Karl Winkelman returned a fumble for a 66-yard touchdown to go up 20-14. GHS responded the next down from scrimmage when Jensen (30-41, 334 yards, 4 touchdowns) found a crossing Danny Contreras, who then lateraled the ball to Dante Fullard.

Traversing the field in the opposite direction of Contreras, Fullard scampered down the sideline untouched as some defenders continued running the wrong direction. The score evened the game 20-all with 1.5 seconds left in the first half.

The second half featured an equally drastic exchange of momentum when Los Gatos running back Nick Kalpin (263 yards, 4 TDs) took one of his 38 carries 56 yards for a touchdown, only to see Contreras answer back for the Mustangs with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Each team scored again before Gilroy provided the exclamation point with an epic 2 minute, 39-second drive culminating in Reyes' touchdown.

After the game, the GHS running back sat on the bench exhausted, still trying to catch his breath with what his team had done, what still lies ahead and where this team fits into history.

"Its hard to say, because we weren't alive when that (1985) team was playing," Reyes said. "But from what everyone in the community is saying, I guess we are the best team."

Coach Hammond couldn't answer the question definitively, but did say players and the coaching staff have benefited immensely from support shown by local fans.

"You feel very privileged," he said. "It's very moving how much support the community has come out and given us."

For those of you who haven't seen this group of teenagers, who play their hearts out in the name of Gilroy, you've got one more chance.

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