Bragging rights for the Severance Bowl title belongs—and stays—with Christopher High. The Cougars made it so with a convincing 35-0 win over crosstown rival Gilroy High on Friday night in the season-finale for both teams.
Although Christopher has dominated the Severance Bowl—the Cougars are 9-2 in the all-time series—Cougars coach Tim Pierleoni said the most rewarding part of the game happened afterward, when a couple of Gilroy players walked to the opposite side of the field to talk with some of the Christopher players, many of whom they’ve known since elementary school.
“That’s the best part of it right there—they can say hi to their buddies and it’s all good,” Pierleoni said.
The latest installment of the Severance Bowl wasn’t exactly a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but then again, in a game fraught with emotion, it’s rarely the cleanest of contests.
Over 20 penalties were called—many of which were the unsportsmanlike conduct variety—and near the end of the first quarter the referees basically told each team to knock off all the extracurricular smack talk and “get back to playing football.”
“There was emotion; that’s part of the game,” Christopher defensive end Braden Clark said. “It got a little much, though, so the refs did the right thing.”
On the first play of the Cougars’ second possession, tailback Logan Stelling ripped off a 50-yard run from the CHS 5-yard line before gaining 11 yards on the very next play from scrimmage. Payton Wheeler then ran for seven yards and two plays later Stelling took a direct snap and went untouched to the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown with 5 minutes, 21 seconds left in the first quarter.
Stelling had another huge game, totaling 254 yards rushing on 27 carries, including three TD runs and a 37-yard TD reception. His 56 yards receiving was also a game-high, and he finished with a career-best 310 all-purpose yards. Stelling’s rushing total was just shy of the 270 yards he put up in the season-opening win against Branham.
Running behind a stout offensive line in Isaac Negra, David Poso, Mateo Pulido, Rossi Oteri and Elliot Carbajal, Stelling gashed the Gilroy defense on sweeps and out of the Wildcat formation. He wasn’t the only beneficiary of the offensive line’s play, as Wheeler had three carries for 44 yards, including a 16-yard TD run. CHS totaled 309 of its 397 yards of total offense on the ground.
“Offensively, we ran the ball hard, stayed on the ground and did what we needed to do,” Pierleoni said. “We had trouble throwing the ball as Gilroy did an excellent job against our passing game. I just think we were a little stronger up front, so we took advantage of that.”
As strong as the CHS run game was, its defense was even more dominant. The Cougars held Gilroy to just 44—yes, 44—yards of total offense. The best the Mustangs could do was advance to the CHS 13-yard line, but a 30-yard field goal attempt from Brian Garcia barely missed wide right midway through the second quarter.
The Cougars had their defensive mojo working, with Carbajal, Clark, Miguel Rangel and Osvaldo Jimenez controlling the line of scrimmage. Pierleoni said that Wheeler playing the flex linebacker position is a key role as “he works with our D-line and is constantly coming and going and dropping in and out.” Oteri also made his usual sizable impact defensively at linebacker, as did stalwarts Kingsley Okoronkwo and Mason Pena.
“They made a bunch of plays,” Pierleoni said. “These kids are fast, aggressive and you can’t ask much more from a defense than what they did tonight.”
Both teams had a ball hawk defensively, as Gilroy’s Jonathan Rodriguez and Christopher’s Adam Andrade had two interceptions apiece. Amazingly, Andrade had six interceptions in Christopher’s 3-0 season. Despite the loss, Gilroy had a successful season from the standpoint that it went 1-2, earning its first win since the 2018 season.
The Mustangs will have talent returning for the fall 2021 season in quarterback Jadon Perkins, Marcques Anthony and Dylan Chirco.