A prep football team opening its season on any day other than a Friday is unusual in itself.
But San Luis Obispo High’s Saturday night game against visiting Kingsburg at Holt Field had an ending that was far more out of the ordinary.
Up 15-13 with under five seconds remaining, the Tigers gave up a 70-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game, suddenly finding themselves on the short end of a 19-15 score as time expired.
To make matters zanier, the bomb was heaved by Vikings running back Garrett Steele, who filled in at quarterback after an injury to the starter. It had been decades since San Luis Obispo coach David Kelley had been involved in such a wild finish to a game.
Never miss a local story.
“When I was 7,” Kelley quipped, “I remember drawing something like that up on the dirt playing sandlot football, and it might’ve worked once out of a thousand times.
“But no,” Kelley seriously answered when asked if he’d ever been through anything quite like it, at least in an official setting. “Never with a uniform on.”
What made the game all the more remarkable was that the Tigers — coming off a 3-7 overall season — had to that point outplayed the defending CIF-Central Section Division IV champion in Kingsburg.
“I just told (the players) that’s what life’s like,” Kelley said. “You’re going to have a lot of adversity in life. The true measure of a man is how he responds.
“They’ve worked hard,” Kelley added of his players. “(The loss) was one of those things where you don’t always get what you deserve in life.”
The Vikings — who went 13-0 in 2009, finishing ranked No. 32 in the state by CalPreps.com — entered this season with a trio of likely Division I prospects on offense alone in Steele, tight end Benton Bray and lineman Troy Jackson.
“They played hard and had fun, and there’s not much else you can ask for,” Kelley said of his team. “It’s called ‘playing’ football, and they played hard and enjoyed it.”
San Luis Obispo combined to rush for 273 yards on 44 carries out of its triple-option offense — with quarterback Anthony Maez leading the way with 82 yards on nine carries. Vance Cramer ran for 78 yards on 15 attempts, while Trevor Macleod added 58 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
Maez also threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to running back Jake Lacy.
Five locals continue careers at Hancock
A handful of former San Luis Obispo County prep football stars who graduated this past year are on this season’s roster at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria.
The five new Bulldogs are offensive linemen Sean Brown (of Arroyo Grande) and Kaleialoha Kalili (Paso Robles), linebacker Tanner Kuhnle (Atascadero) and defensive backs Devin Upson (Paso Robles) and Daniel Wheeler (Templeton).
Hancock (1-0), which opened the year ranked No. 13 in the state, will host Pasadena at 6 p.m. Saturday at Righetti High in Santa Maria.
Tenhaeff makes splash in San Diego St. debut
Nick Tenhaeff, a 2009 Atascadero High grad and former star running back for the Greyhounds, had a productive debut for San Diego State on Saturday.
Tenhaeff, now a 6-foot-2, 210-pound redshirt freshman linebacker, had a team-high five tackles (four solo) and a sack in the Aztecs’ 47-0, season-opening win over Nicholls State.
“He runs well and he has a good instinct for the ball,” San Diego State coach Brady Hoke told the San Diego Union-Tribune about Tenhaeff.