Scots fall to the Cougars in first loss of the season


Alexander Menchtchikov

John Hanna, a senior running back, races the ball down the sideline as he tries to lead a comeback in the fourth quarter. “He’s done an excellent job,” said Head Coach Eric Rado. “He is very durable and a great athlete.”

The Carlmont varsity football team lost an away game to the Half Moon Bay Cougars with a score of 49-35 on Friday, Sept. 9. The Scots’ five touchdowns were not enough to overcome the Cougars as they now prepare to take on Santa Clara in their upcoming home game.

Half Moon Bay opened the scoring with a rushing touchdown from Liam Harrington, a senior quarterback, and completed on a two-point conversion to make the score 8-0. Carlmont fought back with two touchdowns from senior wide receivers Matt Abiezzi and Trevor Johnson. However, the Scots were still down 22-14 at the half.

At the start of the second half, the Cougars scored two more touchdowns. Senior running back PJ Modena scored the first, and the second came off of a Scots fumble that put Half Moon Bay ahead 35-14. Carlmont answered with a rushing touchdown from senior wide receiver Austin Li to make it 35-21 before the fourth quarter.

Despite their best efforts, the Scots’ two fourth-quarter touchdowns weren’t enough as the Cougars also scored twice. The final score left Half Moon Bay undefeated, while Carlmont suffered their first loss of the 2022 season.

Regarding their opposition, Eric Rado, Carlmont’s head coach said, “Half Moon Bay is the best opponent we’ve faced. They’re an A-division team and they’re in an A-league. They’re a great program and it’s a measuring stick for us. That’s why we scheduled them.”

The Scots’ best moments came offensively, with critical contributions from senior quarterback and third-year starter Jack Wiessinger, senior running back John Hanna, Johnson, Li, and Abiezzi. All five brought in touchdowns throughout the game for the Scots.

“Compared to our other opponents, Carlmont put up a lot more points than them. Their offense is better, the quarterback [Wiessinger] stunned us a little bit with a couple nice balls and their running back [Hanna] is tough. He’s not flashy and that’s what I like about him. He’s just north and south and plays hard,” said Keith Holden, Half Moon Bay’s head coach.

Half Moon Bay’s defense had only allowed nine points in the two games before facing Carlmont, notching a shutout against San Mateo. Giving up a plethora of touchdowns forced the Cougars to change their offensive scheme to gain more yardage and match the points on the board.

“For us, the difference was having to switch to the jumbo set and grinding out some yards because our defense wasn’t good. You have to tip your cap to their offense, but we did struggle defensively,” Holden said.

A jumbo set is a formation that typically employs no receivers and stacks up on tight ends and running backs in short-yardage situations. What Holden’s coaching staff didn’t expect, however, is that these short-yardage plays returned some big gains and helped them score many points, especially in the second half.

Prior to the game, Carlmont held a record of 2-0 due to wins against San Lorenzo and at Los Altos. The Scots currently hold the joint-best record of 2-1 with Terra Nova and Hillsdale in the Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) Ocean division, while the other three teams are all 1-2.

The Scots faced their toughest opponent yet this season and received their first loss as a result. They’re looking to bounce back at home against Santa Clara on Friday before heading into their bye week.

“We gotta get ready for Santa Clara. One week at a time, we gotta keep our eye on the ball and worry about what each player can do better to help the team,” Rado said.