DV Varsity Football crushes Newark 42-16 while JV loses 23-14


Hannah Wang

Wildcat running back Matthew Gonsalves (5) rushes forward with quarterback Aditya Ved (1), meeting Cougar linebacker Joshua Limtiaco (6) and others at the goal line.

Rikin Patel and Lucas Quick

Dougherty Valley High School’s varsity football team won their first home game against Newark Memorial High School with a final score of 42-16 on Sept. 3.

Before last Friday, Newark had lost to Encinal by another blowout score of 48-6. On the other hand, Dougherty’s game scheduled at Concord week one was cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols.

With this victory, the Wildcat varsity team enters into this Friday’s game with a record of 1-0. They face Washington, who is 2-0 this season after beating American and Alameda with scores of 22-6 and 18-14, respectively.

Although the final score may say otherwise, the Wildcats entered last week’s game with uncertainty surrounding their team and new coaching staff. The outcome however, was new play-calling and strategies, all of which seemed to pay off last Friday.

Wildcat varsity quarterback Aditya Ved (1) explained, “We put in a lot of hard work this offseason and really focused on changing the mindset of our team, and [we are] just getting better every day.”

Linebacker Akhil Nambiar (55) furthered, “Because we’ve been putting in a lot of work every day since the start of June, we have had a lot of discipline this year.”

Receiving the football at kickoff, the Wildcats started their first drive down the field by handing the football off to running back Matthew Gonsalves (5). The drive ended with a touchdown to running back Aryan Gaur (16). Kicker Brandon Axton (14) faked an extra point kick by running right, hoping to convert for 2-points. However, the trick play was unsuccessful, leaving the Wildcats up 6-0. 

Throughout the game, Gaur accumulated two touchdowns and two 2-point conversions, with 170 scrimmage yards on 15 rushes and four receptions. “We out-conditioned the other team. We’re in better shape and we play at a very fast tempo,” he said.

Following Gaur’s first touchdown, the Wildcats excelled on defense by forcing a three and out and regaining possession. The Wildcat’s second drive started well with running back Austin Spears (28) rushing up the middle for 20 yards. Unfortunately, their drive came to a stop when Ved was intercepted by Cougar linebacker Luis Raygoza (3). 

The Wildcats entered last week’s game with uncertainty surrounding their team and new coaching staff. The outcome however, was new play-calling and strategies, all of which seemed to pay off last Friday.

Ved said that in order to improve, he just needs to trust reads, make sure he sticks to the progressions and trust himself. But regardless, “I did all right. I’m content with my performance.”

Even after the interception, the Wildcats continued to dominate on defense, forcing another Cougar punt after a 7-play drive. Getting back on track on the offensive side, the Wildcats had three strong rushes from Gonsalves with a gain of 12 yards, and Gaur with a gain of 20 yards and 16 yards. They were able to cap off the drive with a 14-yard touchdown run by Devin Garcia (9) and a successful 2-point conversion by Gaur.

Gonsalves injured himself during the drive but fortunately, Gaur thinks Gonsalves will be good to play this Friday’s game against Washington.

The Cougars finally found their rhythm on their third drive when Cougar quarterback Nathan Vera (7) completed a pass to backup quarterback Jacoby Williams (84), resulting in a gain of 33 yards. Even so, the Wildcats kept up their defense by sacking Vera the very next play. The Cougars were forced to punt three plays later. 

When the Wildcats hurried their play-calling and attempted to score right before halftime, they made costly mistakes such as getting three false start penalties on offense. Gaur caught an 18-yard pass but the team didn’t have enough time to score, thus resulting in a 14-0 lead for the Wildcats at halftime.

When asked about the penalties, Ved explained, “There’s a lot we need to clean up. We got a couple of penalties that drew us back. Just sticking to our assignments and keeping up with the tempo should help.” 

Gaur added, “I think just knowing our stuff. We made a lot of mental mistakes and a lot of offsides and false starts and just knowing our responsibilities.”

At the start of the third quarter, the Cougars received the football during kickoff. They were able to convert on third down when running back Jaden Lim (20) rushed for 20 yards. The Wildcats forced a fumble the next play, and linebacker Joseph Halim (20) recovered the football for the Wildcats, giving them possession with good field position. 

The Wildcats struck again with Ved throwing a 30-yard touchdown bomb to Spears on the first play, and Gaur converting a 2-point conversion that extended their lead to 22-0. 

With the Cougars gaining possession, the Wildcat defense went straight to work, forcing a three and out. The Cougars muffed their punt snap, allowing the Wildcats to start at their own 4-yard line. They were able to extend their lead, as Garcia rushed for a 4-yard touchdown, now giving the Wildcats a 29-0 lead. The Point after attempt was successful by Axton.

When asked before the game about a struggling position, Cougar Coach Brad Tubbs said that their special teams had to improve in order to win. During the game, the Cougars’ special teams unit muffed multiple punts.

Wildcat Varsity Head Coach Roberto Clemente responded to Coach Tubbs by saying, “The tough thing about special teams is you work all summer on your offense and defense and it’s tough to get enough time with special teams. But what we do is we make sure we put [Wildcat Special Teams Coach Thomas Chamberlain] full time in with special teams and that’s why Chamberlain has been working with special teams all summer.”

Wildcat varsity players practice just before kickoff by playing a mini scrimmage between their defense and offense. (Hannah)

On the next drive, the Cougars were able to get a great starting field position as they returned a kickoff for 65 yards. After a few strong rushes from Cougar running back Nikolas Russell (33), the Cougars were able to finish the drive when quarterback Vera scored himself with a 4-yard rushing touchdown. After converting a 2-point conversion, the Cougars were able to lessen the gap in scoring slightly, being down 29-8.

When the Wildcats got possession again, Gaur immediately broke free with a 55-yard rushing touchdown. Axton’s kick was successful, thus giving the Wildcats a 36-8 lead. 

The Wildcat defense went back on the field to force a Cougar three-and-out. The Wildcats were able to get in a good starting field position after a short punt, resulting in a 14-yard touchdown rush by Spears. Overall the Wildcats played fantastic, scoring 28 points just in the third quarter alone. 

The Cougars started their next drive confidently with a 20-yard rush to start their drive. Later as the fourth quarter went underway, Vera was intercepted by Wildcat defensive lineman Andrew Yee (56). In this drive, the Wildcats began to substitute their starting players for backups: backup quarterback Eric Ratcliff (3) switched with Ved. The Cougars rallied their defense as the Wildcats punted the ball for the first time in the entire game.

Both the fumble and interception in the second half were Dougherty’s only defensive takeaways in the game. Coach Clemente stated, “Football is a game of possessions, so the more possessions you have, the better it is for you in the long run. Those two turnovers are big. One of our team goals is three turnovers a game. We almost had it with a third possible turnover.”

After the first Wildcat punt in the game, Russell rushed for 20 yards, followed by a 18-yard touchdown run by Lim and a 2-point conversion by Russell, all in garbage time.

Burning off the clock in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats ended the game quietly with Garcia running 10 yards on the last play of the game. In the end, the Wildcats dominated the Cougars in their home opener with a final score of 42-16. 

Coach Clemente said, “I thought it was a good game. I thought we executed our game plan really well. Not having Concord gave us an extra week to kind of prepare for Newark.”

The Wildcat varsity team looks to win their next game as they head on the road to face Washington next Friday.

Even though the Wildcat varsity team beat the Cougars 42-16, the Wildcat JV team lost to the Cougar JV team by a close score of 23-14.

Going into the game, JV Lineman Coach Carlos Jimenez explained, “The boys are mentally in the right spot, most of them are new, so we really don’t know how they’ll react for the first time. A lot of these guys have never played a real football game with referees and everything so with all of those factors, who knows, but we’re as ready as we can be.”

After losing the game, he commented “Our JV team is super young, still learning. And so we were very proud of where they were at. We know we can do better and we’ll fix everything.”

Ever since school began, the Wildcat varsity team started studying film of their opponent’s games during lunch.

Gaur believes, “Studying film, to some extent, is helpful. We were able to study the way their team runs their offense, their sort of scheme and know what kind of routes that they are running just to sort of mentally prepare ourselves.”

When asked why JV doesn’t study film during lunch, JV Head Coach Cameron Grove said, “It’s tough because for JV, none of the JV coaches are actually your teachers on campus so we don’t really have the access to meet during lunch. But what we do instead is we upload film [online]. All the players have access to it and we recommend they watch the film through homework.” 

Ved agrees. “JV did have the opportunity to do it at home. But they had a close game. I think it’s just the same for them, they had a couple mistakes that they need to clean up but overall I think they did all right.”