Mitch Chortkoff, Mirror Sports Editor
As the St. Monica football team prepared for its final game of the 2008 season, several players expressed the goal.
“They wanted to be known as the team that ended the streak,” said coach Sean Ritter.
On Friday night, November 14, St. Monica went to Salesian High near downtown Los Angeles and emerged with a 21-19 victory.
After losing 37 consecutive games spanning four seasons, St. Monica took a 14-12 halftime lead, increased it to 21-12, saw it reduced back to two points, and then ran out the clock.
The Mariners had come close several times earlier in the season only to falter.
“The difference this time was we made the plays in the second half,” said Ritter.
It was the Mariners’ first win since they defeated Bishop Montgomery in the opening game of the 2005 season. The current team finishes 1-8, but escapes last place in the Santa Fe League. Salesian, 1-9 overall with no league victories, comes in fifth among the five teams.
As one might expect, St. Monica did a lot of celebrating.
“Players were in tears, coaches were in tears,” said Ritter. “A lot of hard work was rewarded. And this will give us a boost going into next season.”
Ritter said the Salesian coaches demonstrated a lot of class afterward.
“They had their own situation to deal with but they seemed genuinely happy that we ended the streak,” he said.
Running back Hector Santiesteban scored the first two St. Monica touchdowns. He had a 50-yard run and just passed 1,000 yards for the season. Quarterback Joe Giesregen passed to Michael Holubowski for the Mariners’ third touchdown.
With the season over, off-season weight training will begin in about a week and the league’s coaches will meet to determine all-league selections.
St. Monica has had considerable football success in the past, including the 1998 CIF championship, and they also produced a long-time NFL player in Marcellus Wiley.
However, while other athletic teams at the school did well, the football program sagged. Ritter is the Mariners’ third coach since the losing streak began.
As for next season, Ritter says he’s enthusiastic about coming back. The main concern will be replacing offensive linemen who are graduating. Sam Holguin, who gained some experience at quarterback, is expected to start there as a junior.