18-10 loss to Stellar Prep signals end of resurgent season
The varsity football Eagles wrapped up a resurgent fall campaign on Friday in the North Coast Section Division 5 playoff opener, falling to #8 seeded visiting Stellar Prep 18-10 at Allen Memorial Stadium.
The loss gave Cloverdale a final overall record of 3-7.
By any measure, the 2017 season was a step forward for the CHS football program, with the team playing its best ball down the stretch.
“There really is a lot to be proud of this year and there’s a sense of optimism for the future,” Eagles head coach Chad Talley reflected. “We’re losing some really good seniors that helped us all year, but I reminded them at the end of the game that the past two years they laid the groundwork for the program’s future.”
Rally falls short
Cloverdale represented the #9 seed in the Nov. 10 playoff opener, hoping to avenge a 16-0 loss to #8 seeded Stellar Prep in a previous meeting on Sept. 1. It was not in the cards for the Eagles in the rematch, with a slow start putting the team in an early hole.
The tone was set in the opening quarter when Cloverdale’s Daniel Lopez recovered a Stellar Prep fumble to put his team in business deep in Thunder territory. The threat ended when the Eagles fumbled at the nine yard line.
The visitors drew first blood moments later when they cashed in on the ensuing 91-yard drive with a 10-yard scoring run for a 6-0 lead at the end of one. Relying heavily on their running game, the Thunder found pay dirt again midway through the second period on a 22-yard touchdown burst, putting them up 12-0. Kicker Danny Valencia got the Eagles on the board late in the second quarter, nailing a 32-yard field goal as the Thunder led 12-3 at the half.
The teams dug in for a trench battle in the second half. The Eagles answered a Stellar Prep score with a 15-yard touchdown scamper from running back John Wesele to cut the deficit to eight points in the fourth quarter. Cloverdale mounted a last desperation drive late in the contest but failed to convert on a critical fourth down play as Stellar Prep escaped with an 18-10 win.
“I was really proud of how our kids fought,” Talley said. “Stellar Prep had a ton of big athletes and probably should have taken over the game, but we played really well as a team in the second half and it went down to the wire.”
Although no official stats were available, top rushers included quarterback James Wirt and running backs John Wesele, BJ Grady and Cesar Buenrostro.
Cloverdale will graduate 12 seniors from this year’s team but hopes to return 20 players in 2018.