As Salesian High School tight end Gilbert Dominguez approached the 50-yard line, the Saint Monica High School Mariner family held its collective breath. With 8.7 seconds left in the game, the Salesian Mustangs, trailing 21-19, had one final play from their 26-yard line, and for a second it looked like Dominguez might break free and score. But Hector Santiesteban and Tommy Murray wrapped him up at the 50 as time expired, and the St. Monica sideline exploded. It was not only the Mariners’ first win of the season, it snapped a 37-game losing streak spanning four seasons.
“It feels great,” said senior Mariner quarterback Joe Giesregen, “it feels great to go out on a win, especially for the seniors.” This senior class had gone through some of the leanest years in St. Monica football history – the last two seasons the team had been outscored by a combined 98-806, including last season’s debacle, in which the team scored a total of 27 points. On top of that, their last win was on September 9, 2005. After 37 straight losses, heartbreaks and blowouts alike, the class of 2009 was able to snap the streak. Said 6’2” 225-lb. senior lineman Apollo Nestoras, whose family is from Greece: “It felt so amazing that it even got the Greek monster to cry.”
After four years of being ridiculed and seen as a cupcake program, this year’s team bounced back from the misery of the last few seasons. They were led by senior running back Hector Santiesteban, who, in nine games, rushed for just over 1,000 yards. And Friday night it was Santiesteban who started the Mariner scoring, rushing 12 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. He would score again before the first half ended, and at halftime St. Monica led 14-12. Giesregen’s 50-yard touchdown pass to tight end Michael Holubowksi, who had earlier dropped a potential touchdown pass, put the Mariners up 21-12 in the third quarter.
But the game would still be in limbo.
With under six minutes to go in fourth quarter, Salesian scored after intercepting a Giesregen pass, but having earlier missed the extra points after their first two touchdowns, they were still behind 21-19. The Mustangs got the ball back with about three minutes to play, but would be unable to get so much as a first down, turning the ball over on downs. After the Mariners ran the clock down to 8.7 seconds, Salesian had their final chance. Despite Dominguez’s best efforts, the Mariners did not let this game get away from them, making the tackle, and starting a new streak: W1.
Anthony is a senior at St. Monica’s Catholic High School. He has been the football Public Address announcer for three years, and covers the football team for the school newspaper.