Los Gatos High senior Garret Zeiter ran one yard into the end zone Saturday night with just under five minutes left in the game to give the Wildcats a 28-21 lead, which would be the deciding score to earn them the Central Coast Section Division II Championship over Pioneer High School—the 13th title in school history.
Los Gatos’ defense came up big right after the Mustangs threatened to quickly storm down the field and tie the game, but was stopped on fourth down when senior Shane Smith tackled Pioneer junior Russell Neeley for a three-yard loss and forcing a Pioneer turnover on downs.
Zeiter, who had a career-high 39 carries for 306 yards and four touchdowns, said he credits his team for coming out of the locker room in the second half and playing well on both offense and defense.
“I played great, but I can’t take it all for myself,” he said. “Our defense also stepped up and played great and we all put the game on the line. This team is so motivated.”
Zeiter added that he gave his team a brief pep talk during halftime when the Wildcats went into the locker room trailing 21-7.
“I kept it short and sweet.”
Los Gatos jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game when Zeiter ran 20 yards for a touchdown, while Pioneer answered back with three touchdowns in the second quarter, including two touchdown runs from senior Tyler Campani.
Zeiter came out into the second half and ran 44 yards on the first play from scrimmage and eventually ran into the end zone with 10:02 left in the third quarter.
After a series of turnovers by both teams, Los Gatos got their defense and running game together and sealed the victory. The Wildcats’ defense held strong with two consecutive sacks on Pioneer junior quarterback Drew Fryhoff.
Los Gatos head football coach Butch Cattolico said he told his team that they needed to follow through on the game plan to come back and take the game from the Mustangs.
“I said that they were doing things that we knew they were going to do and we were not executing things we were supposed to execute, and I said if we go out there and execute what we are supposed to, we could win this football game,” Cattolico said.
A modest Cattolico, who has been part of the coaching staff for all 13 of the school’s 13 division championships, said he relied on his two senior stand-out players to help carry the team to victory.
“I’m not too bright, but I said, 'Let’s get Garret the ball and let Shane come on some blitzes and we could be a pretty good football team.' ”
Los Gatos finished its season with a 12-1-1 record, going 5-1 in league and beating Leigh and Aragon high schools handily to get to Saturday’s championship contest against Pioneer.