Tam football rallies to beat Redwood in homecoming game


(Courtesy of Asher Goldblatt)

By Amelia Sandgren

Tamalpais High School’s varsity football team beat rival Redwood High School for the first time since 2013 at the homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 1. Tam came back from a halftime deficit of 0 to 10 to win with a final score of 26 to 23. 

“[At halftime] I felt like we were gonna win,” varsity football coach Matthew LemMon said. “All I said to the guys was, ‘I have a good feeling we’re going to win, I’ve felt that way all week, and you guys take a break, because it’s hot out there.’”

After senior and starting quarterback Nick Schottenfield suffered an injury in the third quarter, sophomore Braden Young, a staff member at The Tam News, took over the position. Shortly after, Young threw a 10-yard pass to Sam Reade for a touchdown, shortening Redwood’s lead. Tam recovered five fumbles, one of which by senior Charlie Beyer, resulted in the ball being critically turned over to Tam in the third quarter. After fourth-quarter touchdowns by seniors Christian Son and Ezra Levy, and a final touchdown run by Young, victory was in sight if Tam could prevent Redwood from scoring. In the last four minutes of play, the defense fought off Redwood’s final possession, securing the Mt. Tam trophy for the team. 

“The first half may or may not have been the most tiring first half of football I’ve played, it was so hot … Everyone was dead,” Son said. “[After halftime] we definitely locked in, and everyone started doing their jobs like they should have.”

Senior running back Sebastian Chen gained Tam a total of 108 yards on 18 carries throughout the game. “I felt good coming into the game; I know we have a lot of guys who can make plays,” Chen said. “I was confident all the way through, but it was definitely a boost in the second half when we started to get some good pushes, some good blocks, and that gave us the confidence to run the ball.”

In preparation for the rivalry game, LemMon made sure to schedule tough matchups in the pre-season to simulate the high level of play expected against Redwood. “We’ve been playing great teams to start the season, so when we get to play another big game, it feels more normal,” LemMon said. “We played McClymonds [High School], I think right now they’re ranked 14 in the state, and then we played [Archbishop] Riordan [High School] in the city; they’re pretty good.” While Tam lost 6-63 and 8-15 against McClymonds and Riordan, respectively, LemMon believes that the games ensured the team was ready for the difficult competition to come. 

The rivalry game was also highly anticipated among Tam’s parents, especially those who had witnessed the team fight for a Redwood victory for years.

“Coach LemMon has these guys so focused on conditioning, training, and teamwork— just the whole package— to build towards success,” Kelly Reade, parent of Reade and Class of ‘20 football player Ben Reade, said. “The Tam-Redwood rivalry goes back for years, and going into it there was certainly excitement, anticipation, and just a hope for a win … as a family being able to go and have such a fun community sporting event is just really amazing.” 

Tam students gathered near the end zone, sporting “Respect the Rivalry” t-shirts and white-out game attire. Halftime activities included a performance from the cheerleading team and the announcement of this year’s Homecoming Court: seniors Nicholas Parlamis, Symil Austin, James Raymond, and Wesley King.

“Everyone who showed up was in white; it showed a lot of school spirit,” Austin said. “A lot of kids were anticipating [the game] seeing as it’s been two years [since spectators could watch the teams].”

Tam football players attributed much of their success to the high energy of the student section. “Seeing the support we had in that game was overwhelming, and I think it would have been a really different game if we didn’t have that,” Reade said. “That definitely was a big boost for our morale and our energy.”

Leading up to the game, tension began to build between the two rivals, resulting in vandalism of Redwood statues and verbal altercations between students. “[The Redwood] student section kept heckling me. They kept calling me short and kept saying I wasn’t strong,” Son said. “That made it really funny to wave goodbye to them at the end of the game.” 

Spectators on the Redwood side, dressed in pink for breast cancer awareness month, were disappointed to lose what they had felt was a sure victory.

“[It was surprising] because of many years of Redwood whooping [Tam]. And then I saw Tam win and I’m like, ‘Oh wow, that’s impressive,’” Redwood senior Nathan Katz said. “I wasn’t as upset about Redwood losing as I was that we choked.”

The 21 seniors on the varsity roster were ecstatic to finally bring home a victory against Redwood, and hope that the team continues to bring the dedication and hard work that contributed to the win. 

“[I hope the players remember] that feeling of beating your cross-town rivals in front of all your friends, family … just that atmosphere, and coming out with the win, and how good that feels,” Chen said. 

After a brief period of celebration, coach LemMon is ready to get back to work. 

“It was great, it was fun, I’m all about it, I’m glad [the fans] got to see it, but to me it was just another game, we got five more we got to play,” LemMon said. “I gave the trophy to [Athletic Director Christina Amoroso] and told her, ‘Whatever you need to do with it, do with it,’ and I’m moving onto the next thing. Right, here we go.”