After opening the season with Saturday’s non-league 36-0 shutout loss to Mission High School at San Francisco’s historic Kezar Stadium, the Tomales High School football team, which has clinched five-straight league championships and has appeared in the playoff finals as recently as last season, could interpret the game as a bad omen.
On the Tomales practice field Tuesday, senior running back Michael Guerrero, who rushed for 67 of the Braves’ meager 136-yard total offense, offered a more matter-of-fact assessment.
“Oh, last week wasn’t good,” he said. “They were quicker than we were, but we’ll pick it up this week. Practice is a lot harder, and we’ll be better next week.”
Senior middle linebacker Justin Kehoe, who has caught the eye of recruiters at California State University at Sacramento and University of California at Davis and made seven tackles against the Mission team, had a similar evaluation.
“We just weren’t ready for it yet,” he said. “We haven’t seen anything that fast practice-wise.”
Tomales Head Coach Leon Feliciano was impressed by Mission’s speed, and bet that the team would probably clinch this season’s city championship. Like his players, Feliciano had an optimistic outlook for next week’s non-league game against South Fork High School, and the rest of the season.
“Despite the loss to Mission, the goals remain the same,” he said. “To win league, get in to the playoffs and get to the section championship game. I know it’s a cliché, but I think we’re gonna be better for it. That was an eye-opening experience.”
The team has already adopted a more accelerated tempo at this week’s practices and has refined its pass rushing and coverage, which faltered last week when Mission converted on several third and long passes. Tomales’ secondary will be integral to defending against South Fork’s spread and pass-heavy offense.
“So we fell down,” Feliciano said. “Now we gotta get up.”