Comets football caps off stellar season, finishing undefeated at home

After slow start, Comets knock off rust and come roaring back in second half


Comets players celebrate victory by gathering around the trophy they just earned in San Pablo on Saturday Dec. 4, 2021. (Photo/Joseph Porrello)

By Joseph Porrello, Staff Writer

In a hard-fought season finale, the Comets defeated Foothill College 28-19 Saturday in the Chris Pappas Bowl in San Pablo.

“We didn’t play the way I think we were capable of playing, but at the end of the day, an ugly win beats a pretty loss,” said Comets’ head coach Otis Yelverton.

The game was indeed anything but beautiful, as the Comets amassed 15 penalties that accounted for 156 yards.

After going three weeks without playing a game, the Comets came out in need of energy and seemed lackadaisical. The layoff may have also contributed to some attrition the Comets faced throughout the game, as the medical tent was busier than usual with injured players.

“We came out flat-footed,” said sophomore linebacker Billy Caldwell.

The Comets were not held scoreless in even the first quarter of any previous game this season, yet they were not able to score the entire first half of Saturday’s game, heading into the locker room down 0-6.

However, the ability of Comets’ freshman kicker Alys Vigil to swiftly avoid getting his punt blocked by a Foothill College defender, coupled with an interception, gave the team some momentum heading into the second half.

Comets’ kicker Alys Vigil rears back to punt the ball away and flip the field position against Foothill College in San Pablo on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (Photo/Joseph Porrello)

During the third quarter, freshman defensive back Jaden Rhodes made a big hit on a Foothill College receiver, causing him to lose control of the ball and have it intercepted out of midair on an acrobatic diving interception made by freshman linebacker K’aun Green.

At the conclusion of the third quarter, the Comets had taken a 14-13 lead, never relinquishing it thereafter.

In addition to two interceptions, the stellar Comet defensive effort included two fumble recoveries and two sacks..

Comets defensive back Trey Baker breaks up a potential Foothill College touchdown pass in San Pablo on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (Photo/Joseph Porrello)

In the final quarter, the Comets were able to get rolling and outscore Foothill College 21-6, en route to the 28-19 final. The 28-point total was the Comets second-lowest offensive output of the season.

Comets’ quarterback Jake Jensen still had a respectable performance, completing four touchdown passes while throwing zero interceptions and racking up 339 passing yards.

Comets’ quarterback Jake Jensen looks to find an open receiver and evade Foothill College defenders looking for a sack in San Pablo Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (Photo/Joseph Porrello)

Two of Jensen’s touchdown passes were hauled in by Freshman receiver U’kari Baker, another was nabbed by freshman receiver Demari Davis who also accumulated 120 total yards through the air.

Davis and Baker celebrated their touchdowns by dancing and chest-bumping with their highly animated receiver’s coach, Zac Noble.

“I’ve noticed throughout the season that my guys feed off of it, the more excited I get the more cranked up they get,” said Noble.

Comets’ receiver Keegan Grayson-Zehrung celebrates a touchdown with his receiver’s coach Zac Noble in San Pablo on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (Photo/Joseph Porrello)

The Comets’ rushing attack was anchored by freshman running back Mike Franklin, who gained 101 yards on the ground. Franklin finished the season averaging over one hundred yards per game.

Comets’ running back Mike Franklin fights for extra yards after contact with a Foothill college defender in San Pablo on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (Photo/Joseph Porrello)

In an odd series of occurrences, three different referees were knocked onto the ground on separate occasions after coming in contact with players, the game was paused for them to recoup each time.

One of the referees that was knocked down had to exit the game and was not able to return because of an injury. Comets players went over and high fived the injured referee to try boosting his spirits.

At the game’s end, players and coaches reflected on the completion of their successful season that resulted in the Comets’ first winning campaign as a football team since 2015, finishing with an overall record of nine wins and one loss.

“I came in here not really knowing anyone and the bond we built was incredible, everyone plays for each other and has each other’s back,” said freshman tight end Mikey Mainer.

Caldwell attributed the success largely to Yelverton’s coaching.

“We bought into Coach O’s system, and these are the results…Next year the sky isn’t the limit, the moon is, I really believe in this team,” he said.

The victory was especially sweet for those who had been on the team in previous, less successful seasons.

“Being on the staff in 2019, it feels great to have a good turnaround, going from 2-8 to 9-1,” said Noble.

“I’m very proud of this group of guys, they believed me when they could have gone to play at other places,” Yelverton said. “Kind of sad it’s over, but also very excited for the future at CCC,” said Yelverton.

Comets players and coaches soak up their last moment on the field together as a group in San Pablo on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (Photo/Joseph Porrello)