Football

Santa Teresa’s historic run ends in soggy, low-scoring 6-AA state title game loss

SAN JOSE — It doesn’t rain too often in South San Jose.

State championship football games occur even less frequently thereabouts.

And football games that conclude with a final score of 7-0 … you’d need to time travel back to the first half of the 20th Century to find many of those.

A cluster of unlikely events to say the least.

Santa Teresa hosted a state championship game Saturday evening and came out on the short end as Classical Academy-Escondido scored a first-quarter touchdown and made it stand up for a 7-0 victory and the CIF 6-AA state title.

The wet field after day-long rain and intermittent showers throughout the game might have had something to do with the offensive struggles. But that was not an explanation Santa Teresa coach Steve Papin was willing to accept.

“I don’t think so,” Papin said. “We got beat to the punch. They wanted it more. They were faster to the ball. We had too many mistakes and penalties. We’d get in second-and-15 and we’ve never been a good team behind the chains.”

Santa Teresa’s Jayden Arevalo (4) runs with the ball against Classical Academy’s Jackson Ballou (30) in the first half of the Division 6-AA state championship at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 

Classical Academy (12-3) missed a 55-yard field goal on its first possession, but then recovered a fumble at the Santa Teresa 30. Using a compact formation with two tight ends and two blocking backs, the Caimans used six running plays to take a 7-0 lead with 2:40 left in the first quarter.

Turns out that was all they would need.

“We never got the momentum we needed,” Papin said. “We kept thinking, one score and we’ll explode. But the one score never came.”

About the only offensive highlights for Santa Teresa (9-6) were two long improvisational runs by quarterback Jayden Arevalo. A 50-yard dash in the second quarter that ended inside the Classical 10 was called back on a holding penalty.

Then on a similar play in the third quarter, dropping back to pass with protection breaking down, Arevalo took off and ripped off a 48-yard gain down to the 20. But then three running plays lost four yards and a fourth-down pass fell incomplete.

The Caimans rushed for 242 yards with star running back Life Pollard accounting for 140 of the total. The Saints rushed for 122 yards and Arevalo was 9 of 15 passing for 84 yards.

“We just didn’t have the energy we usually have,” standout senior safety/running back Joshua Reyes said. “I don’t know if it was the weather, the rain, but we just didn’t play the way we’re supposed to play. We won two rings and played high level football to get this far.”

Santa Teresa's Evan Smith (22) runs with the ball against Classical Academy in the first half of the Division 6-AA state championship at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)Santa Teresa’s Evan Smith (22) runs with the ball against Classical Academy in the first half of the Division 6-AA state championship at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 

A disconsolate group of Santa Teresa players met in the team room afterward.

“We won CCS, we won NorCal,” was the message Papin had for his team. “Someone’s got to win, someone’s got to lose and unfortunately we came out on the wrong end. The penalties and mistakes cost us today. We needed to play a near perfect game today. Keep our heads up, we had a great season.”

Santa Teresa won the first Central Coast Section championship in school history and followed that up by winning a NorCal title.

“I’ve only been here two years but the seniors have been here for four,” Papin said. “They wanted a CCS championship, that was their goal. We finally accomplished that two weeks ago. Since then we’ve been saying we’re playing with house money.”

And the hope is that the steps the current team took with its late-season run will pay dividends down the road in terms of the program’s development.

“Win or lose the state championship, it’s going to give us notoriety, put a stamp on us to say we;’re here,” Papin said. “Not to knock anyone else, but we look at it that we’re the model for the East Side Union schools. We’re the number one school. It used to be Oak Grove. In two years we’ve accomplished becoming the hunted for East Side Union schools.”

Coaches support Santa Teresa's Jayden Arevalo (4) during the ending ceremony of the Division 6-AA state championship at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)Coaches support Santa Teresa’s Jayden Arevalo (4) during the ending ceremony of the Division 6-AA state championship at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 
Classical Academy's Roman Menotti (5) runs with the ball against Santa Teresa in the first half of the Division 6-AA state championship at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)Classical Academy’s Roman Menotti (5) runs with the ball against Santa Teresa in the first half of the Division 6-AA state championship at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 
Santa Teresa's Evan Smith (22) catches the ball against Classical Academy's Life Pollard (1) in the first half of the Division 6-AA state championship at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)Santa Teresa’s Evan Smith (22) catches the ball against Classical Academy’s Life Pollard (1) in the first half of the Division 6-AA state championship at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 
Santa Teresa's Jayden Arevalo (4) passes the the ball to Santa Teresa's Joshua Reyes (2) against Classical Academy at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)Santa Teresa’s Jayden Arevalo (4) passes the the ball to Santa Teresa’s Joshua Reyes (2) against Classical Academy at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 
Classical Academy's Jackson Ballou (30) shakes hands with Santa Teresa's Jayden Arevalo (4) after Classical Academy won against Santa Teresa 7-0 in the Division 6-AA state championship at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)Classical Academy’s Jackson Ballou (30) shakes hands with Santa Teresa’s Jayden Arevalo (4) after Classical Academy won against Santa Teresa 7-0 in the Division 6-AA state championship at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 
Santa Teresa's Evan Smith (22) runs with the ball against Classical Academy in the second half of the Division 6-AA state championship at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)Santa Teresa’s Evan Smith (22) runs with the ball against Classical Academy in the second half of the Division 6-AA state championship at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 
A coach embraces Santa Teresa's Jayden Arevalo (4) after Classical Academy won against Santa Teresa 7-0 in the Division 6-AA state championship at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)A coach embraces Santa Teresa’s Jayden Arevalo (4) after Classical Academy won against Santa Teresa 7-0 in the Division 6-AA state championship at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 

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