We all judge sports events by wins and losses. Whatever effort is put in by the coaches and players, the public judges by the final score.
But sometimes the effort is so commendable a sportswriter is moved to put the final score aside and share observations about what he saw.
I’m glad I went to Corsair Field Friday night. Had I not been there I would have concluded that St. Monica’s 20-18 loss to Chadwick was simply more of the same – the Mariners’ 33rd consecutive defeat in a string that has gone into its fourth year.
But I believe readers should be aware of what is going on in the Mariner’ football program.
Coach Sean Ritter is patiently developing some young players, and in this game he received an inspired effort that almost resulted in an upset. He made some significant changes, like letting sophomore Sam Holguin share quarterback duties with senior Joe Giesregen and making running back Hector Santiesteban the primary receiver at times.
The squad’s talent level, which was so sub-par the last few years, is better now. The three transfers from Daniel Murphy High and two from Loyola have helped considerably, and some help has also arrived from Mariner lower level teams.
The coaching staff’s dedication and the players’ improvement was evident when St. Monica took a 12-0 lead in the first quarter, one of the few times during the losing streak when the Mariners scored the first two touchdowns in a game.
But Chadwick scored the next 20 points and St. Monica’s promising start turned into a disappointing finish.
First there were many St. Monica penalties. For all the good that was happening, the Mariners were hurting themselves by making mistakes. Those mistakes add up.
Second, there’s a difference between leading for a while and sealing the deal. Perhaps a team that hasn’t won in a long time lacks the killer instinct to put an opponent away.
If Chadwick was taken by surprise at the outset, it was able to retain its poise. That comes from confidence gained by having a successful program. And Chadwick has enjoyed much success in the recent past.
So this St. Monica team has an 0-4 record, but the consolation is that league play hasn’t begun yet. When it does all teams begin at 0-0 and success – even a playoff berth – is within reach.
For the record, St. Monica was part of history by participating in the first night game played with Corsair Field’s new look – artificial turf and improved lighting.
SMC had played a day game against LA Valley a week ago but wasn’t ready to test the new lights. The lights were fine and the place is brighter.
St. Monica’s defense held as the game began, and after Chadwick punted Holguin completed a 40-yard pass to Danny White which set up the first touchdown.
Before the quarter ended Giesregen passed to Michael Holubowski for 12-0 and an interception by Santiesteban gave St. Monica the ball back.
But amidst all that success was the fact St. Monica missed conversion kicks after both touchdowns. Later the Mariners failed on a two-point conversion attempt, and extra points were the difference in the game as both teams scored three touchdowns.
St. Monica’s next two games will also be at Corsair Field, including Saturday night, October 11 against Villanova Prep.