San Jose High football team struggles with adversity-filled year

SAN JOSE, Calif.

The game was never in doubt.

At one point during the second quarter, San Jose High was down 34 zip. But the scrappy Bulldogs kept the score respectable.

By halftime it was Lincoln 41, San Jose High 20. It was like David and Goliath.

San Jose High, with only 1,200 students, is the smallest school in the district. Rival Lincoln High has double that number. And there's been continuing adversity on the team.

Four years ago, star player Matt Blea needed lifesaving brain surgery after he fractured his skull during the Big Bone Game.

Star lineman Isaiah Espinoza suffered a spinal contusion in last year's Big Bone Game, which they lost to Lincoln 55 to 13.

In Feb. another player, Anthony Santa Cruz, was stabbed to death near the campus. His mother Elsa Lopez came to the game Thursday. It's her first thanksgiving without him.

"Right now I'm just thinking, oh my god I have to home and set the table," Elsa said. "He's not going to be there."

Anthony's teammates wore his initials on their helmets.

"We really wanted to tell everybody that Anthony's loss affected us a lot," said San Jose High School football player David Andrade.

Coach Darrell Williams imposed strict standards this year, demanding good behavior and good grades.

"I told the kids at the beginning of the year -- without that structure, we're not going to win," Williams said.

During the year, some 18 players left the team. But he had the support of Principal Cary Catching.

"Where they're going to get in their life is because of their brains," Principal Catching said. "You know, it's just such a small percentage of kids who play sports go on to play professionally."

San Jose High's record this year is now ten straight losses.

But teammembers held their head up high, knowing that in their struggle against adversity, they played with pride and passion.

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