The Sobrato High football team brings in portable lights on campus for a night game usually once per season. It’s always a special moment for the Bulldogs, but a 21-14 overtime win over Westmont on Oct. 23 took the cake.
In front of a jubilant student body that flooded onto the track to celebrate with the players immediately after the final horn, Sobrato kept its Central Coast Section playoff hopes alive. The Bulldogs (5-3 overall, 4-1 BVAL Santa Teresa) now have a huge game with Leigh High on Saturday, with the winner gaining the inside track to clinching second place and an automatic berth into the postseason.
Leigh has handed it to Sobrato the last couple of years, but Bulldogs coach Jubenal Rodriguez said recent history matters little and will have no bearing on Saturday’s game.
“Last year in the spring (a 41-8 Leigh win), we had to hurry up to put together a team and had 17 players on the roster,” Rodriguez said. “It was chaotic. The kids had to get used to a new coaching staff and scheme and Leigh definitely got the best of us. But comparing this Sobrato team to that team is like night and day. We’re extremely different and the kids are excited for the challenge and opportunity to compete for a playoff berth.”
Trey Bringuel’s interception clinched the outcome against a solid Westmont team. The play came moments after quarterback Seth Hernstedt scored on a 10-yard touchdown run on the first possession of the OT session, his second TD of the contest.
“I got the play call, heard it was a sweep for me and knew right away I was going to punch it in because that play was working all the time in the second half,” Hernstedt said. “The blockers did their job and I found a hole and took it.”
Hernstedt completed 7-of-16 passes for 99 yards and rushed for 70 more on nine carries. Nate Ortiz had another prolific game, rushing for 107 yards on 11 carries and a TD. Bringuel didn’t put up his usual offensive numbers but had the play of the game to seal the deal.
The victory was extra special because it was Sobrato’s Homecoming Game and portable lights were brought in courtesy of Nick Persing’s family, Hernstedt said. Persing is a lineman on the team.
“We’re really thankful for Nick’s family to donate the lights and make it a really special atmosphere because no one likes having the Homecoming Game during the day,” Hernstedt said. “We definitely got a little extra pumped up being able to play under the lights on our field. And it was great to get a win for the seniors.”
Rodriguez said the setting was electric.
“It was one of the coolest environments I’ve ever been a part of with high school football,” he said.
The win was also rewarding because it came just a week after a 28-9 loss to Pioneer, the probable league champion.
“That was a tough loss, but the kids overcame it and all the Homecoming distractions and pulled it off,” Rodriguez said. “It was awesome to win in front of the Sobrato football community.”
The Bulldogs face a tough opponent in Leigh, which went toe to toe with Pioneer before falling, 17-14, on Oct. 8. Hernstedt and Rodriguez are expecting a great week of practice that they hope will lead to a seminal performance against the Longhorns.
“The kids know what’s at stake,” Rodriguez said. “We’re almost identical to them when it comes to size. They’re quick, they’re fast and their head coach is a great play caller who finds weaknesses right away and attacks them. We’ll try to be balanced defensively and limit them and hopefully put at least a few scores on the board. They have a really good running back and I believe if we stop him, we have a good chance of coming out with the victory.”