With the regular season over and the playoffs coming right around the corner, we look back at the Bears’ impressive season so far and look forward to a deep playoff run and a shot at the Central Coast Section (CCS) championship. After two straight losses to open the season, the Bears went undefeated in their next eight games to finish with an overall record of 8-2. As a result of the outstanding regular season record, they are placed as the first seed in Open Division I playoffs. Head coach Adhir Ravipati commented on their high seeding, “We’re the number one seed so there’s a great honor and we want to reward the team for a great regular season. Hopefully, we’ll be able to go on a run and win CCS and see where we go from there. We definitely have very high expectations.”
There is a looming rematch between West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL) powerhouse Bellarmine and M-A. M-A lost to Bellarmine 34-20 earlier in the season; however, M-A players and coaches expressed their belief that they could beat them later in the season after cleaning up their mistakes and overall play. Ravipati said, “Right now, we’re not even thinking about Bellarmine. If we get to that point, obviously. I told the kids after the loss that we will see Bellarmine again. We have to get better because we know that Bellarmine has also been getting better. Wilcox is a really good team and we’re going to have our hands full this week with them.” Even though the team is focusing on Wilcox, there is some extra motivation for the players to win and play Bellarmine again.
“We definitely want to win so we can get revenge on Bellarmine. We want to show everyone that we don’t fold and that we improved through the season.”-Senior captain Marquise Reid
Though M-A lost the first two games of the season, the Bears have come back with a vengeance. Ravipati believes that those losses have helped the team. He commented, “I think [the games] definitely helped because, by the time we got to league play, we were more than prepared after playing a lot of really good competition. I don’t think we necessarily only schedule those games to prepare for league, though. We schedule those games to get better and expose our weaknesses. We want to be the best team that we can be.”
The Bears do have a few new players on the field, either coming up from JV or recently debuting in varsity. Ravipati said, “A couple of sophomores we just brought up — David Tafuna, Feleti Malupo and Daniel Heimuli — will help us in the playoffs. Curtis Francis is another guy that we got back later in the year that will help us on the line. Overall, we’re just gonna ride on those core guys — Jordan Mims, Mekhi Blackmon, and Aajon Johnson — who are great at making plays.” On the defensive side, the Bears rely on their senior linebackers Christain Wiseman and Stavro Papadakis, as well as the secondary led by Marquise Reid, Mekhi Blackmon, and Tate Tussing.
Junior defensive tackle Curtis Francis recently made his varsity debut against Aragon. Francis has already recorded 16 tackles, two sacks, and even an interception in just two games. Francis commented on returning to the field, “It felt good. I had to make an adjustment when I first got in; I got a feel for the game.” Francis also told us his expectations for playoffs: “I think we will execute well, play together as a team, and win. We need to make sure we don’t start off slow.” Francis could be an X-factor for the Bears’ defense going into playoffs.
The Bears have believed since day one of the season that they would go far. Ravipati said, “Overall, the kids are the ones who set the goal. We have this thing called a covenant that the team made at the beginning of the year. On there we said that we wanted to beat a WCAL team. We did that. We wanted to win the league. We did that. We wanted to beat Sacred Heart prep, Terra Nova, and Burlingame, and we did all that. At least so far, I think we’ve lived up to the expectations of getting better every week, which was our main goal at the start of the year. There are still more goals that we have yet to achieve and hopefully will in the next couple of weeks. We’ve done well so far, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
Ravipati spoke about the team’s schedule this week: “We usually try to scale back our practices later in the year. If you don’t know how to block or tackle by week 11, your probably not going to learn how to do it in three days. We actually don’t practice as long and a lot of our focus is on our game plan and getting reps. It is a little bit different how we practice and how we structure everything.”
The Bears face Wilcox in the first round of Open Division I play this Friday, November 11 at 7:00 p.m. Follow the game live on our Twitter!