The Student News Site of Burlingame High School

The Burlingame B

The Student News Site of Burlingame High School

The Burlingame B

The Student News Site of Burlingame High School

The Burlingame B

Football loses 96th Little Big Game, ends 13-year winning streak

Jake Rothstein
Quarterback Luke Levitt scans the field for an open receiver. The junior passed for a touchdown and threw two interceptions against the Bearcats.

If you only saw the box score, it would be hard to believe that varsity football (3-7) lost the Little Big Game on Saturday, Nov. 4, ending its 13-year win streak against San Mateo High School (6-4).

But alas, numbers can be deceiving, and it became apparent after the opening kickoff that it may not have been Burlingame’s day. The Panthers could never take control of the contest, trailing the entire way. Despite a second-half charge, the Bearcats hung on in a 17-14 thriller. 

Burlingame outgained San Mateo, both through the air and on the ground, by over 45 yards. They had more offensive snaps (53) and first downs (17), but in the end, couldn’t execute the big plays needed to win. 

Leaning on their rushing attack led by junior Xavier Zaragoza, San Mateo drove methodically down the field for a touchdown. Penalties proved to be a problem for the Panthers all game. Burlingame had a chance to get off the field on 4th and 1 from their 42-yard line, but an offsides call awarded San Mateo an automatic first down. 

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Seconds later, senior Sam Felton returned the kickoff and weaved his way through would-be tacklers to the endzone. Just like that, it looked like Burlingame was going to tie the game and steal all the momentum from the San Mateo sideline. But an illegal block-in-the-back penalty rescinded the touchdown. 

The Panthers still received excellent field position on the kick return, and a few big runs from Angelo Medina and Cole Quilici culminated in a Medina two-yard touchdown rush. 

The senior, who has led Burlingame’s backfield this season, finished with 75 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. Quilici ran for 54 yards on 10 touches.

The Panthers attempted a two-point conversion, but couldn’t convert. After the Bearcats kicked a red zone field goal to go up 10-6, San Mateo tried an onside kick. Burlingame touched the ball before it went ten yards, and the Bearcats gained possession. 

Remarkably, San Mateo completed just one pass all game — but they made it count. After running the ball a few times to open the drive, the Bearcats tried a trick play. Burlingame’s defense was fooled, and senior Matt Radulovich found himself wide open over the middle of the field, strolling into the endzone to give San Mateo a 17-6 advantage late in the second quarter. 

“[We weren’t] quite good enough,” head coach John Philipopoulous said. “It was a tale of two halves, we made a lot of mistakes in the first half. Mistakes that led to scores. In all three phases of the game.”

The defense was dominant out of the break, not allowing a San Mateo first down until late in the 4th quarter. 

“I thought the whole defense in the second half stepped up and played well,” Philipopoulos said.

Nevertheless, the offense struggled to find rhythm, except for an eight-play, 63-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown reception from junior quarterback Luke Levitt to junior wide receiver Jake Flood.

Flood finished the contest with seven receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown.

Needing two points to make it a field-goal deficit, Levitt evaded the rush and snuck into the endzone. The Burlingame crowd and sideline erupted, and the Panthers had all the momentum.

“We had them in the second half,” Flood said. “The first half just got away from us, and we just didn’t come out hard enough.”

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  • Gill rolls to his left looking for someone to pass to in the first quarter of the Little Big Game.

  • Senior quarterback Eddie Gill hands the ball off to senior back Angelo Medina, who led the Panthers on the ground Saturday.

But San Mateo was finally able to pick up a few first downs to bleed the clock. 

“San Mateo did a good job of playing keep-away and milking the clock,” Philipopoulos said. “Even though I thought we played a really good second half, it just wasn’t quite enough. We ran out of time.”

The Bearcats punted the ball back to Burlingame with just a second left, leaving only enough time to run one final play.

A miracle was needed to pull it off. But luck wasn’t on Burlingame’s side this year. 

Levitt’s last-second heave toward the endzone was intercepted, ending the game and the Panthers’ winning streak versus the Bearcats spanning back to 2009. 

San Mateo students stormed the field to celebrate. Many players on the Burlingame sideline took a knee in shock.

Flood believes the squad can respond to the disappointing loss and come out with energy for the Central Coast Section (CCS) playoffs. 

“I’m confident,” Flood said. “Every time we’ve gone down this season we’ve bounced back, and I think we can do that this week. We were put in a high league and although we lost a lot of games we competed at a pretty high level against some of the best teams in CCS.”

The Panthers have to regain focus on a short week to prepare for their playoff matchup against Mountain View High School, a team they have already beaten this year, on Friday, Nov. 9. 

“We have no choice [to rebound],” Philipopoulos said. “The mental side of this game is as important as the physical side. We’re gonna have to find a way to bounce back. We still have at least another week of football left, and we’re gonna have to find it within ourselves to get ready to rock and roll.”

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About the Contributors
Zachary Newman
Zachary Newman, Sports Editor
Zachary Newman is a junior and second-year journalism student. He is excited to be the B's sports editor this year and continue to improve the sports coverage in the paper. Zachary spends the majority of his time outside of school on the golf course. He also likes to play with his dog and cheer on his favorite sports teams.
Jake Rothstein
Jake Rothstein, Managing Editor
Jake Rothstein is a senior at Burlingame High School and is a third-year student in journalism. Jake is excited to be the new co-managing editor for the Burlingame B. He is an avid runner on the cross country and track teams and enjoys building and designing software applications. In his spare time, Jake enjoys being with friends and family and reading the news.
Henry Gardner
Henry Gardner, Staff Reporter
Henry Gardner is a sophomore at BHS and a first year journalism student. In his free time he likes to do photography, play lacrosse, and spend time with his friends. Henry is excited to take photos of school events and write about topics that interest him.
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