30 12 2011

I took an afternoon yesterday to write up some highlights after almost an entire year in the co-pilot’s seat at the Daily Journal Sports desk. Technically, I turn 1 on January 5, but considering that 2011 is almost in the rear view mirror, it seemed like a good time to take a look back. Here’s how it came out. Enjoy.

Three-hundred-fifty-seven days ago, I moved a box of belongings some 40 feet over to a vacant desk in the San Mateo Daily Journal office. It was then that sports editor Nathan Mollat threw me the keys to the Peninsula Sportsmobile and basically said, “don’t crash it, my friend.”
And boy, what a ride it’s been. It isn’t that the San Mateo County sports scene was a foreign thing to me before — I spent time corresponding for a couple different newspapers in the past. But year one of my full-time reporter experience has been chock-full of great moments — how time flies when you’re having fun.

Team of the Year — The nominees here are plenty — from the Menlo-Atherton girls’ volleyball team, the South City wrestling team, the Menlo boys’ tennis team, the Terra Nova girls’ basketball team. The nod here goes to the Serra football team. I considered myself very fortunate to cover the majority of their football games, including their CCS winning game against Menlo-Atherton. They’re a great collection of athletes and young men who made history and most of the time, looked silky smooth and damn-near unstoppable. Plus, because of the Padres, I made my television debut during halftime of their away win against St. Francis (shoutout to CSN. I hope your ratings didn’t take that big of a hit).

Awesome Interview of the Year — Talking to so many people daily, you can see how one can get hundreds of interviews all mixed up. My nod here goes to a couple that stood out in my mind because of the candid nature that produced some great quotes. First, my favorite postgame interview with a coach was a talk with M-A soccer coach Jacob Pickard following a loss to Burlingame on the away turn of their 2010 season. Pickard didn’t mince words, visibly upset at his players’ performance. On the player-side, El Camino’s Trevor Kelly turned what was supposed to be a 15-minute Athlete of the Year chat into 50 minutes of sound-bite gold. It’s a shame I didn’t get to use them all. I left the El Camino campus knowing why so many coaches raved about this young man.

Student Section of the Year — The majority of the student sections in the county are good, but very few are great. Quick shoutouts go to Sacred Heart Prep’s Sixth Man, as well as M-A’s. Burlingame, you get some love too for perhaps the most consistent support. Menlo as well. But far and away my favorite are the boys from Serra High School. More often than not, the Padre student section is on-point with their chants and fill football fields and basketball gyms with great energy. I was on the sideline for an away game against St. Ignatius. Outnumbered 4-to-1, Serra’s pack of fans did the same thing its players did on the field to the Wildcats (that, “SWEEATTERRSS” chant is a classic). Check the score to see what I mean.

Snack Shack of the Year — Admittedly, I don’t frequent snack shacks like I used to. I was a regular connoisseur back in the day. With that said, my nod here goes to the fine people at the South City snack shack. On a cold, rainy day in November, the hot chocolate and rice bowl hit the spot. Honorable mention goes to the chefs at Woodside High — the Wildcats take the Burger of the Year award. While not a high school, the best thing I ate while on assignment was a tri-tip sandwich at the Belmont Sports Complex during the District 52 tournament. I heard they have their shack catered though, so I’m checking with the judges to see if that’s allowed.

Best Rivalry — There are those rivalries I knew were good coming in, but over the course of the season, a pair stood out as the most heated — and they’re both on the soccer pitch. On the girls’ side, San Mateo and Aragon clashed twice in Bay Division play. In game one at San Mateo, Katelyn Turtletaub came off the bench playing on a bum leg and her play produced the game-winning Dayna Sakuta goal. Aragon wasn’t happy, and a couple of weeks later, battled the Bearcats and outworked them for a 3-1 revenge win. There were plenty of hard fouls, trash-talking and extracurricular activities. What sold it for me was, after the 3-1 game, I asked Aragon midfielder Kat McAuliffe how much of the win was payback for that 1-0 loss. She said, “oh, it was all payback.”

We stay chilling in Intensity City for a bit and look back at the Burlingame/Menlo-Atherton rivalry in boys’ soccer. In Game 1, the Panthers were simply outplayed and outhustled in a 2-1 loss to the Bears, prompting Burlingame Mike Sharabi to say, “The next time we see these guys at our place I think it’s going to be a different result.” Turns out, he’s not just a coach, but a prophet as well. In Game 2, the Panthers looked like a completely different team, winning 2-1. Once again, plenty of hard fouls, yellow cards and most importantly, quality soccer.

Individual Performance of the Year — This is a tough one, the list of nominees here is long and they’re all dominating — Michael Latu against Hillsdale with 233 yards rushing in the second half including three very long, very awesome touchdowns; Charlotte Pratt and her 16-goal scoring clinic against Willow Glen in a 20-19 double-overtime win (perhaps the Game of the Year); Jordan Richwood’s 10-strikeout, two-hit masterpiece against Aragon (or any Richwood game for that matter); Thomas Cox of Serra against Burlingame (11 Ks in a 3-1 win).

But the winner here is Serra’s Erich Wilson and his six-touchdown dismantling of Wilcox in the Padres’ season opener. Wilson touched the ball 12 times in that game — half of those he found himself in the end zone. He could have easily scored seven or eight if he hadn’t basically sat out the entire second half. Truth is, pick any of Wilson’s games in 2011 (244 yards, 4 TDs versus St. Ignatius, 228 3 TDs versus Milpitas) — the man was a machine.

Wilson is also responsible for the Play of the Year. In the CCS title game against M-A, No. 21 intercepted a pass at the 36-yard line in the fourth quarter. Upon picking the ball off, Wilson ran a clear 53 yards across the field, juking three Bears along the way, Then, turning a dime, the man bolted down the M-A sideline and glided beautifully and violently down the Bears’ sideline for the nail in the coffin. It was his second insanely-ridiculous run of the game in which he ran clear across the field, found a crease and was gone — the run prompted @CheckkThissOutt (Nathan Mollat to the rest of you) to tweet “wow, that was impressive.” Understatement City, boss.

Female Athlete of the Year — Our publication gave San Mateo Karyn Jacobs the honor at the end of the school year, and deservedly so. Jacobs is supremely gifted and fearless as an athlete. She’s one of a few superb three-sport athletes still left in the county — they truly are rare considering how many athletes are so sport-specific nowadays. But there were others girls who left great impressions in Year 1. There was no one faster with a ball on her feet than Woodside’s Taylor Duffner; no one gutsier (and crazier) than San Mateo’s Turtletaub; Richwood was the definition of dominating; Terra Nova’s Terilyn Moe is a stud; Who has bigger hops than Aragon’s Chanel Joyce? Maybe M-A’s Seini Moimoi; Lauren Croshaw, also a Don, is a running machine.

Male Athlete of the Year — I’m going to sound like a broken record, but Serra’s Wilson was just that good. But I’d be remise not to mention Kelly from El Camino, Freddy Avis and Jake Bruml of Menlo baseball, Aaron Orr of M-A, Rodrigo Puliceno of Burlingame, Brian Ha of El Camino, Nick Hale of Menlo and Josh Lauese of Sequoia as some of my favorites.




One response

13 01 2012
Melbourne Golf Courses

Great article guys! Anyone know of any good golf travel websites? Ones similar to this one I found for Melbourne Golf Courses in Victoria.Melbourne Golf Courses

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