Anzar looks strong six games in

Hawks senior Greg Arispe has been downright sensational on both sides of the ball this season. Photo by Chris Mora.

It’s been a season of maturing for the Anzar High football team. After a tough start to the season—where injuries played a big factor—the Hawks are soaring. They improved to 3-3 overall and 1-0 in the 8-man Pacific Coast League after an impressive 44-20 win over host Pinewood of Los Altos Hills last Friday.

It’s been a while—and for just the first or second time in program history—that Anzar has been at the .500 mark six games into the season, but that is where the San Juan Bautista school finds itself after beating Pinewood for the first time in program history. 

“It feels good to accomplish this since we had never done it,” said Jose Pineda, a two-way lineman who bullied his Pinewood counterparts all game.

“The team has matured in a short period,” Hawks coach Kollin Kosmicki said. “It took a few weeks for us to fully understand the intensity needed to play this game. The intensity, toughness and discipline, all the football things are coming together.”

That was evident against Pinewood, which has traditionally been an 8-man power but is struggling this season. Anzar had a decisive size advantage, using it to pound away for huge chunks of yardage at a time. With quarterback Greg Arispe at the helm—the dynamic senior had another terrific game, rushing for 160 yards on 23 carries while throwing for 31 more—mixed in with the power running of Nick Nickerson (81 yards on 12 carries) and Eric Chavarria (38 yards on eight carries), Anzar totaled 300 yards on the ground.

Chavarria, who was playing in his second game of the season, had TD runs of 3, 3 and 18 yards, the first of which occurred on the team’s opening drive. Chavarria’s athleticism and playmaking ability have added another layer to the Anzar squad.

“Eric is a warrior on the field,” Kosmicki said. “We knew he was going to be one of the best linebackers in the league, but his running has been outstanding. When we put him in the backfield, he’s hard to stop.”

The outcome was never in doubt, as Anzar built a 16-0 lead and was never seriously threatened. Kosmicki credited the team’s pass rush against a pass-heavy Pinewood team to being one of the keys of the game.

“The guys up front put pressure all game long,” he said. “We knew we had a size advantage and talked all week about bringing toughness from the first snap and dominating up front, and we did that.”

Pineda, Rafael Magana, Jose Arriaga, Antonio Aguilar and Noel Aquino played a vital role in bringing the pressure, with Nickerson, Brian Munoz and Bruce Funk also helping to solidify the defensive performance. Aguilar, Arriaga, Magana, Pineda, Alan Cruz, Jovanni Plascencia and Jorge Samano were some of the offensive linemen who were responsible for opening up huge holes for the run game.

At 5-foot-11 and 320 pounds, Pineda outweighed his Pinewood counterparts by well over 100 pounds.

“I did feel bad at times of being able to push them like nothing,” Pineda said. “But I had to do it because we needed this win.”

Arispe was sensational, eluding the defense with some shifty cuts. However, Arispe also showed he can power through tackles, as he dragged two defenders into the end zone for the Hawks’ second TD. Arispe also showed his passing touch, connecting with Munoz for a 23-yard TD to make it 24-6 with 8 minutes, 53 seconds left until halftime.

To top things off, Arispe had one of the team’s three interceptions; Logan Ledon and Munoz had the others. After stopping Pinewood on the second half’s opening possession, Anzar delivered one of its signature drives of the season, a 10-play, 65-yard possession that took nearly eight minutes off the clock. Arispe capped the drive with an 18-yard TD run, putting an exclamation point on the victory.

Pineda said Kosmicki along with assistant coaches Felipe Davila Sr. and Felipe Davila Jr. have impacted the team in a big way, instilling in the program a no-excuses attitude.

“Since we’ve had coach Kollin, he’s impacted us with the way he’s coaching and with the discipline,” Pineda said. “He can be hard on us, but it’s to motivate us. And coach Felipe being our defensive coordinator has brought a lot of intensity. Coach Kollin has brought some better plays and is a good guy overall. He gets on us if we don’t practice with intensity. When he tells us he’s going to take us out (of the game), that is what triggers everyone to bring their intensity up. And when we’re doing drills and the hits aren’t hard or good, he makes us run laps, which is good because it gets us conditioned and motivates us to do better.”

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