The article below originally appeared on MercuryNews.com and is being reprinted with permission.
College of San Mateo football coach Bret Pollack drilled a message into his Bulldogs last week.
“We were sitting there at 5-4 and we had a decision to make,” Pollack said. “We were going to be 6-4 and be winners, or we were going to be 5-5 and be average. And I expressed to them my strong conviction that too many people in our world are OK with average — and average isn’t good enough.”
CSM finished the regular season as winners, with the 54-30 victory Saturday at Santa Rosa securing a spot in this weekend’s Bulldog Bowl against Sierra.
Meanwhile, the season came to an end Saturday with another loss for both Menlo College and Foothill College.
“It was a tough year all around,” said Menlo coach Mark Speckman, who finished 4-6 in his first year with the Oaks. “I give the kids credit. They had to learn a lot of new stuff and new coaches. And four of the six teams that beat us all made the national playoffs, so that’s fairly remarkable.
“I think we learned a lot, that we’re close, but by no means are we there yet.”
The Oaks lost their last five games, including a 38-21 defeat Saturday on senior day to Pacific Lutheran.
“I think for the most part our competition forced up to grow up,” Speckman said. “I was a little disappointed in Saturday’s score. I thought we had a chance to win both of the last two games, and we weren’t able to put it all together. But overall it was a good year and it was baptism by fire and we’re going to get nothing but better.”
The future won’t include quarterback Matt Pelesasa (Woodside), with the senior transfer from CSM completing his two-year tenure in Atherton. Pelesasa finished his college career in style, completing 30 of 41 passes for 268 yards, with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
The current QB at CSM did his damage on the ground. The Bulldogs (6-4) scored first on a 61-yard interception return by Sam Atoe, but Santa Rosa scored back-to-back touchdowns to go ahead 14-7 in the second quarter. That’s when the offense got moving, with quarterback Blake Plattsmeier calling his name 25 times for 194 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He also threw a 15-yard TD pass to Aaron Criswell.
“We learned once again how to finish a game and how to fight four quarters,” Pollack said. “That was encouraging, and the scored reflected it.”
Foothill scored the most points since Sept. 15, but it was not enough to end a seven-game losing skid in a 55-35 shootout against De Anza. The Owls (3-7) led 20-18 in the second quarter, but De Anza scored with six seconds left until halftime and put up 30 unanswered points on the scoreboard. Foothill wide receiver Jordan Lockett made three catches for 116 yards, with touchdowns from 42 and 63 yards out in the second quarter.