Football Game of the Week: 8-man football under the lights at Kezar Stadium
By Jeremy Balan
While much of the City’s high school football teams are resting during a bye week before the start of their league season, Stuart Hall High School’s 8-man squad is gearing up for its most important game of the year.
The Knights (1-1) will host Trinity Christian of Monterey on Saturday night at Kezar Stadium. It’s the second straight year Stuart Hall will play at Kezar, after they hosted Anderson Valley last season in the first 8-man football game to be played at the former home of the 49ers.
The idea has been a focus for Stuart Hall athletic director John Bertken, who values the experience for the players and the opportunity to showcase the 8-man game.
“Any time you can get a game under the lights for the guys and a venue like Kezar, you want that opportunity,” Bertken said. “It puts Stuart Hall, a little school, in the limelight a little bit and gives us an opportunity to show what 8-man football is all about.”
Trinity Christian head coach Harold Lusk, who played Division I football at Utah and went on to play with the Indianapolis Colts as well as in the Canadian Football League, did not know the significance of playing at Kezar at first, but realized the potential impact upon learning of its history.
“It’s going to be one of the greatest experiences these guys will ever be able to have, to play on the same field as some of those names,” Lusk said. “Just to be on the same gridiron as those names that have been there before is so special.”
Along with the allure of playing at the iconic stadium, the game also carries significance for each team’s season.
The game is Stuart Hall’s first in the Mission Trail Athletic League’s 8-man division, after playing last season as an independent. Due to an unbalanced schedule, the Warriors are already 3-0 in the six-team league and could gain a stranglehold in the standings with a win over the Knights.
“If we make an impression – respect is what every football program strives for,” Lusk said. “If we can come out and make a statement, you set the mark for yourself and for others to strive for.”
Stuart Hall head coach Richard Robinson was not available for comment on Wednesday.
Lowell @ Jefferson (Daly City), 7 p.m.
The Cardinals (0-2) are one of three winless Academic Athletic Association teams trying to end the non-league portion of their schedule with a victory and will do so on the road against the Indians (1-2), who edged Balboa last week for their first win of the year.
Marshall @ Gonzales, 7 p.m.
The Phoenix (0-3) will play their fourth straight non-league game on the road, but this trip is considerably longer than any they have taken before. Over a two-hour drive from campus to campus, Gonzales lies southeast of Monterey Bay, but it could be a joyous trip if Marshall can escape with a win. One of the weakest teams in the Central Coast Section, the Spartans (0-2) already lost to Galileo 47-8 this season.
Piedmont @ Washington, 1 p.m.
The Eagles (0-2) have not looked like the perennial AAA power of recent years early in non-league play, losing their first two games to El Camino and Montgomery of Santa Rosa by a combined score of 74-12, and won’t get a reprieve against the Highlanders (3-1). After a season-opening loss to Healdsburg, Piedmont has won three straight against Moreau Catholic, Albany and Swett.
Kennedy (Richmond) @ Galileo, 1:30 p.m.
League play hasn’t even started and the Lions (1-1-1) have already had an up-and-down season. They started with a 14-14 tie against Mills, then had a 47-8 blowout of Gonzales, followed by a disappointing loss on the road to De Anza. The Eagles (0-3) haven’t been as lucky, losing their three games by a combined score of 133-24.