The San Francisco 49ers Charlie Wedemeyer Memorial Coach of the Week award for week 7 goes to Head Coach Keith Holden from Half Moon Bay High School in Half Bay Moon, CA.
The homecoming crowd at Friday night's showdown between the Half Moon Bay Cougars and visiting division rivals, Menlo Knights, certainly could not sit back, relax and enjoy the festivities at any point that night. The heart pumping battle at John Francis Field was a hard fought contest between two unbeaten teams in the Peninsula Athletic League's Ocean Division and the outcome was not decided until the final seconds of the game. By no means was it pretty, as both teams had five turnovers a piece, but it sure was an exciting fight.
Despite Menlo's fourth quarter rally, Keith Holden's Half Moon Bay Cougars were able to come out victorious. The Half Moon Bay crowd will never forget the ending to this game, with less than 20 seconds left in the game and Menlo driving down the field for the game winning touchdown, Half Moon Bay's Pablo Gutierrez pick
ed off a pass in the end zone to seal the nail-biter for the Half Moon Bay Cougars.
Both teams stuck to their game plans and stood by their strengths. Menlo's offense continued to attack their opponent through the air, typical of a Mark Newton coached team.
"Anyone that knows Head Coach Mark Newton knows and respects his work with quarterbacks. It doesn't matter who he has back there. He's always going to have some kid that he has back there slinging it," praised Half Moon Bay Head Coach Keith Holden.
Half Moon Bay on the other hand, didn't vary from their run-first offense.
"We are typically a run first team. We like to control the clock, especially against a team like Menlo. We think they do a good job on offense. It's important for us to control the clock by pounding the rock," said Coach Holden.
The real battle came as a result of both teams doing just enough to hold the other from doing what they do best, and playing a 'bend but don't break' game.
"When you first look at our stats, it looks like we did well on the ground. But they did a great job against our run. We tend to run the ball better than we did against them. They did a good job of shutting down the run," said Coach Holden. "I'm sure they practiced that all week, as we prepared for their passing game all week.
After being down the entire game, the Menlo Knights rallied all the way back to take the lead behind the arm of Menlo quarterback, Mackenzie Morehead's nearly perfect fourth quarter. Morehead came out in the second half and orchestrated beautiful drive after beautiful drive, throwing two perfect touchdown passes. Menlo's defense did its part in pulling together the comeback as well, intercepting Half Moon Bay's Gavin Tomberlin twice on two consecutive offensive series for the Cougars. If Menlo could have managed to score on that next drive it would have been game over, and the incredible fourth quarter comeback would have been the story of the week. However, the Cougars defense answered the bell when it counted. The Cougars held the Knights on a big third and fourth down and gave the ball back to their offense with the chance to win the game.
With time ticking down, the Half Moon Bay offense got the opportunity to orchestrate a drive of their own, needing a touchdown to regain the lead. The Cougars put together a hard fought drive where they converted on a critical fourth down, and another big third-and-ten to put them just outside the 5-yard line. It was the ground and pound run game that they relied on for the majority of the game, and it was no different in this game defining situation. They continued to rely on the run, and with 32 seconds left it was running back Matt Spigelman who punched it in for the go ahead touchdown.
"He's a guy we trust. The game was obviously on the line… We gave it to him twice in a row, and we would have given it to him three times if it came down to it. He's our guy. He's the guy we go to in big moments like that," said Coach Holden.
Living up the hype, this divisional battle was not over. With Half Moon Bay up 22-19, Menlo now needed a field goal to tie or a touchdown to win. With 30 seconds left to play, and no timeouts remaining, Menlo got the ball on their own 38-yard line. Morehead picked up right where he left off, connecting with his favorite target of the night, RJ Babiera for two big gains. However, Babiera was unable to step out of bounds after catching the second deep ball, causing Morehead to spike the ball at the line and kill the clock. On second down Morehead took a shot at the end zone, where his flawless fourth quarter came to end, along with the Knights' chances for the perfect ending. Senior Pablo Gutierrez picked off the pass, solidifying the win for the Cougars.
The homecoming crowd at John Francis Field was elated.
"Homecoming is big at every school, but it really is huge at Half Moon Bay. The stands were packed. Our snack stand literally ran out of food. For the weekend to align the way it did was crazy," said Coach Holden. "I'm really happy for our guys. It's a big weekend for them."
As part of The San Francisco 49ers Charlie Wedemeyer Memorial Coach of the Week award, Keith Holden, will receive a $1,000 grant for Half Moon Bay High School from the 49ers Foundation. As our Coach of the Week, he will also receive two tickets to a 49ers home game where he will be recognized on the field. In the weeks leading up to the game, Coach Holden will be invited to visit the SAP Performance Facility to watch a closed practice where 49ers Head Coach Jim Tomsula will officially present him with his award. Coach Holden will also be featured on Cal-Hi Sports.
Congratulations Coach Holden and the entire Half Moon Bay High School football team!