Cate gets no mercy from No. 2 Windward

Assistant coach Juarez Newsome yelled at the Cate football players to keep their heads up as they walked to the end zone for their final post-game meeting.

Despite just having lost to undefeated Windward (11-0) via the mercy rule, 50-0 after two quarters, there is plenty for the Rams to take from this season to keep those heads up.

A 6-4 campaign despite missing a star player in Wyatt Geiger, a rivalry win over Laguna Blanca and a signature win in the first round of the playoffs will be the things to reflect on next year, when all but two players return to the squad.

Randy Person will be one of those returners, and the junior running back knows a thing or two about resilience, having stepped off of a plane from New York right before the game began. His grandfather passed away this week, but the junior touchdown-machine made it back to strap it on  with his team in a matchup which promised slim hopes of victory.

“I tried to use it to my advantage,” said Person of his grandfather’s passing. “They had fast guys and just a really good program. We had a great season with great coaches, and I’m just sad that it had to end today.”

The Cate sideline could be heard yelling “this ain’t over!” even in the final minutes of the half, with the Rams down 37-0. Considering the team got to the second round by beating Victor Valley Christian 42-41 despite falling in a 28-0 hole to start the game makes you think they might have believed it.

It would have been known as “the Miracle on the Mesa” if it did happen. Windward has now outscored opponents 573-39 on the year, and a few of the Wildcat players were simply massive.

Person just missed a catch that would have been a sure touchdown midway through the second quarter, but it fell out of his hands and the Rams couldn’t avoid the shutout.

The highlight of the day for Cate was a goal-line stand at the end of the first quarter. Windward intercepted a pass at the 20 and returned it to the Cate five yard-line. On 2nd-and-goal at the one yard-line, the Wildcats handed the ball to their biggest player to try and bulldoze it in, but Ugo Nwasike flattened him for a loss of two. A delay-of-game penalty a couple of plays later left Windward with five yards to go for the score, but the Cate defense held strong.

While the Rams will only graduate two players, they are two very key parts of the team. Max Sabel only picked up football this year but made an impact both ways for the team, while Michael McMahon served as the starting quarterback and kicker on offense and played every position on defense.

“He’s been with us since the beginning and he’s done everything we’ve asked of him,” said head coach Ben Soto, who has plenty of optimism heading into next season.

“This hurts right now, but the sun is going to shine tomorrow and we’re going to learn from this. We’re gonna get better and figure out how to be on the other side of things next year,” he said.

(Photo courtesy of Mary Fish Arango)