They won’t win a state title this year. They won’t even play for one.
But sometimes, pride is more than enough – and on a cold and wet Friday night, in front of a home crowd at Central Valley and a televised audience, even the Gonzaga Prep Bullpups couldn’t rain on the Bears’ parade.
Grayson Sykes finished with three touchdowns and quarterback Adam Chamberlain threw for 101 yards and ran for 77 as CV hung on in the final seconds of the game for a 37-35 victory over visiting Gonzaga Prep.
The Bullpups had a chance to win with 7.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but Max Gruber’s field-goal attempt on Gonzaga Prep’s final play sailed wide and a wild celebration ensued on the Bears’ field.
“A lot of pride on the line for us – and seven wins is a big deal for this team,” said CV coach Rick Giampietri, whose Bears (7-2) finished third in the league.
“That was a just a great game,” he said, shaking his head and looking on as the team and student body that rushed the field after time expired mingled at midfield.
“My goodness,” he added. “I don’t even know what to say.”
The loss makes the Bullpups (8-1) and Mead Panthers (8-1) – the two teams that had already locked up the GSL’s postseason berths in the 4A field prior to Friday – co-champions of the league, and maybe that’s how it was supposed to be all along.
From kicker Austin Rehkow’s record-setting 67-yard field goal to send CV into overtime last week (he also made a 54-yard FG on Friday), to their own mini-championship performance against a previously-undefeated Bullpups team on Friday night, the Bears are well aware that they’ve had a special end to their season.
But give the Bears credit for putting on quite the gridiron show the past two weeks.
And that won’t even officially end until Friday when the Bears host a non-playoff crossover game against 3A Hanford.
“It’s indescribable,” CV tight end Beau Byus said. “To come into this game against the No. 1 team in the GSL and a team that is highly ranked in the state, and play the way we did – it’s just amazing.
“This is kind of a statement game. We had a bad loss to Ferris, but we feel we are a team that could have been and should have been in the playoffs. I think we could’ve even made a run. Hopefully people will see that about us now.”
Brandon McClung also scored a pair of TDs for CV, which took a 21-7 lead in the first quarter.
Gonzaga Prep quarterback Zach Bonneau, who only threw four passes in the game and completed just one, ran for 308 yards on 34 carries and three touchdowns for the Bullpups.
“They’re a heck of a team and we had to play a heck of a game to win that game,” Giampietri said.
“They got rolling, but at the beginning of the third – the defensive stop we had which we followed with a touchdown – that was the turning point I thought.”
Just one of the many moments Giampietri spoke pridefully about as the Bears enjoyed theirs.