Prep Football: Gilroy, Christopher break bread before Severance Bowl

A cake display the Severance Bell is displayed at the Severance Bowl Dinner between Christopher and Gilroy High Schools at GHS Wednesday. 

GILROY — On Wednesday night there were no Cougars or Mustangs, just neighbors and friends.
The coaches, players, cheerleaders, administrators and supporters of both Gilroy and Christopher High Schools gathered at GHS for the Severance Bowl Dinner. The metaphorical line that divides the two teams did not exist and instead members of both schools interacted by joking and sharing stories in peace.
“This is important because the kids have all grown up together,” Christopher coach Tim Pierleoni said. “They’ve all gone to elementary school together, junior high together and now they split up. They still see each other around town and they’re still buddies. So this is sort of a neat thing for us to be together.”
The Gilroy High Student Center was adorned with balloons representing each team’s colors as well as signs that showed support both schools. There were three cakes to be enjoyed after dinner : One for Christopher, one for Gilroy and one showing to remind the teams what they’re playing for — the Severance Bell.
Though tables were designated for each of the groups in attendance, it didn’t seem to matter. Christopher and Gilroy cheerleaders sat and laughed together and coaches from both schools sat down to chat and take their minds off of football if just for that evening.
Even though it’s becoming tradition for the two schools to meet for dinner, Gilroy coach Brian Boyd said he thinks there may be a better way to approach this. Instead of meeting before the game, the Mustangs coach suggested — and said the two schools have discussed — doing something after the game or even the following day like a dinner or dance to show their support for one another.
“It is hard and it is uncomfortable being in there, even though we’re all friends,” Boyd said. “We wish the best for them just like they wish the best for us.”
The unique meeting of the two teams was bittersweet for both coaches. Both Pierleoni and Boyd have coached in Gilroy for several years and the meeting bared a different weight for each.
For Boyd, who has coached Pop Warner in Gilroy, it was a chance to see his former players who now play across town. Several of them approached the Gilroy coach with smiles spread wide across their face and hugged their former coach, despite the fact they’ll go to battle against him Friday night.
“A lot of those boys in there I’ve coached for years, so it’s really good to see them and see them up close before they get to play a game,” Boyd said. “Do I want to see them before they play us? Not necessarily.
“It’s all good, it’s the right thing to do for the town and let everybody know that we’re on the same page and we want to get along. Somebody is going to win the football game and that’s all it is the football game winner. It’s not one school is better than the other. One’s a little shiner, but that’s all it is.”
For coach Pierleoni, a GHS and Gavilan alumni and former coach of the Mustangs, it’s the last time he’ll enter the Garcia-Elder Sports Complex and call it home. Christopher will be the home team this year and will get it’s own stadium for next season. The Severance Bowl will be played at GHS next year to Gilroy the chance to be the home team, but Pierleoni said it just won’t be the same.
“For me, that’s my home stadium — that’s where I went to high school, that’s where I played junior college at, that’s where I coach now since 1990,” he said. “That’ll be my last game there as a home football coach — it’s kind of exciting. As a player I played a bunch of years there — six years there — and went on and coached for I hate to say how many years.”
Gilroy and Christopher will square off at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

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