By 6:30 p.m. both the main and overflow parking lots were filled, and cars began spilling out onto Stone Valley. By game time, people were parking more than four blocks away, clogging residential streets, laughing and cheering as they walked the distance to be there for the big game.
There are 42,000 people who call Danville home, and on Nov. 14 almost 8,000 of them jammed into bleacher seats, stood along chain link fences or sat high on the hill above the stadium, all to watch the Wolves and the Mustangs battle over who will display the Jim Geldermann Perpetual Trophy.
For the students at these two high schools, this is the most important game of the season.
"I don't care if this is the only game we win this season, it's the biggest," said MVHS sophomore Tate Meyers. With a grin he added, "We know the kids there. We can rub it in if we win."
The feelings were similar on the San Ramon Valley side. Senior Jessica Walsh said she thinks the Wolves have had a great season so far but this is the game where she wants to see a win. "I would rather win this game than any other game in my four years of high school."
The friendly rivalry between these two teams has persisted for more than 20 years, with the trophy moving back and forth as each team waxed and waned. Last year, behind the strength of SRVHS quarterback Joe Southwick, fans expected to see a rout of the Mustangs, but were surprised to see the Monte Vista team come out on top, 20-14.
This year's game showed almost exactly the same situation, only in reverse. MVHS has had a stellar year in the East Bay Athletic League, amassing a record of 8-1 on the skills of quarterback Brett Nottingham. The Wolves, with Southwick still at the helm, were behind in the record, dropping three games in a row leading up to the match with Monte Vista.
As the game began, the Monte Vista side of the field was lively and raucous, as fans cheered each play and catcalled the Wolves. SRVHS fans cheered, too, but with some cautiousness. That balance changed when Southwick fired two passes over several plays to Bryce Peterson to put the Wolves on the scoreboard six minutes into the first quarter.
A missed field goal kept the score at 6-0 through the remainder of the quarter. In the second quarter, the Mustang's Nottingham marched his team down the field, brooking no opposition until a run up the middle devolved into a tug of war that ended with the Mustangs pushing into the end zone for a touchdown. A solid kick for the extra point put Monte Vista on top, 7-6.
At that point it seemed the tide was turning against the Wolves as the Mustang defense came on line, sacking Southwick for a nine-yard loss. But the Wolves rallied, held strong by Southwick's ability to scramble out of tight spots and still throw passes that found their mark.
A combination of passing and running plays brought the ball downfield and into the red zone when Southwick, unable to find an open man, spotted a hole and ran the ball downfield before being knocked out of bounds on the one-yard line. On the next play, running back Brett Trimble bulled his way up the middle and into the end zone.
A failed attempt at a two-point conversion left the score 12-7, SRVHS, with six minutes left in the quarter. Neither side was able to score before the half was called.
In the second half, the Wolves came out strong while the Mustangs and Nottingham just weren't able to close the deal. Several bullet passes to tight end Zach Ertz and wide receiver Tom Hemmingsen moved the ball down field but just couldn't get it across the goal line.
By contrast, San Ramon's offense seemed to keep finding holes in the Mustang defense. Four minutes into the third quarter it paid off as Trimble scored again. With the extra point made, the score now stood at 19-7.
San Ramon's defense forced turnovers and broke up plays. Defenseman Garrison Goodman intercepted two Nottingham passes and batted down several others to keep the Mustangs from scoring.
SRVHS fans spent most of the fourth quarter on their feet, cheering the Wolves on, and the sound was nearly deafening when a handoff to Trimble led to another score, bringing the tally to 26-7 with 11 minutes to play.
One group of San Ramon High students held up letters to spell out "We Believe" while another began chanting "Overrated."
The clock ran down with no answers from Monte Vista and when the final whistle blew, over a thousand screaming, laughing, weeping San Ramon students climbed the fences surrounding the field and ran out onto the grass to celebrate with their winning team. Geldermann trophy firmly in hand, the Wolves gathered in the middle of the field beaming with joy.
San Ramon Coach Dave Kravitz said he was proud of his team's performance on the field. "They played the consistent, executed game that we've been talking about all season. We've been telling them all season that they're a good team and they can be a great team. And they showed us that out on the field tonight."
Asked about quarterback Southwick's performance, Kravitz said, "Joe wanted this bad, and he delivered out there."
A grinning Joe Southwick agreed with Kravitz' comment. "We were ready to go tonight." He added, "We got together and went after it."
Monte Vista Coach Craig Bergman gave credit to the Wolves for a great game. "I thought they thoroughly outplayed us. They were very prepared for us." He added, "We certainly didn't help things by turning the ball over."
While the Mustangs gained 427 yards over the course of the game, that didn't offset four turnovers. "We had four turnovers in the red zone which shut four drives down. We moved the ball well to the red zone then we stopped."
Bergman and his Mustangs may get another shot at their rivals in the upcoming North Coast Section championship. The Wolves, seeded seventh in the championship, will face off against the San Leandro Pirates at Burrell Field on Saturday. If they win that game, they will go up against the Mustangs on Nov. 28. For more information about the championships, visit www.cifncs.org.
Making their way back to their cars after the game ended, fans from both sides grouped together, talking about the game. No longer divided by a football field, Green and Gold mixed with Red and Black. Friends, many who have known each other since childhood, chatted about the game, the big plays, the final score, enjoying the camaraderie of a shared experience.
Because it is a rivalry, of course, many of the San Ramon fans crowed over the victory and their possession of the coveted trophy, while those on the Monte Vista side uttered the familiar refrain: "Wait 'til next year."
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