Tigers give undefeated Bulldogs a challenge in final championship game, 14-13

By Mari Erin Roth

Staff Writer

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Portola football lost to Fall River Nov. 23 by the tightest possible score in the contest for the Northern Section Championship trophy. The Tigers won their way to the finale. “It was a great championship game,” said Portola High School head football coach Steve Heskett. “I’m extremely proud of the way we progressed all year.”  Portola finished the season losing to just one team this season, the 2022 championship Fall River Bulldogs.


The story of that game is a good one. Fall River opened the first quarter with a touchdown but were foiled attempting any extra points and the score entering the second quarter was 6-0. The Tigers scored a touchdown AND an extra point to take the lead by halftime, 7-6. Spacing out the thrills for the fans, The Fall River Bulldogs scored a TD in the third quarter and landed a 2-point conversion to take the lead going into the final quarter, 14-7. Fighting tooth and nail, the Tigers scored that needed touchdown but without any extra point(s), the Bulldogs were able to keep their undefeated record through to the end, 14-13. What a game! “This group of young men never gave up,” said Heskett. “They were truly unselfish all season.”

PHS junior Tanner Carr and sophomore Magnus Berg scored the two Tiger touchdowns in the game. Berg had 13 carries for 115 yards and Carr had 7 carries for 21 yards. Senior Steven Peralta had 7 carries for 48 yards. Carr completed 3 passes for an additional 21 yards. Senior receiver Max Wilson caught two of those passes for 16 yards and junior Johnny Stewart caught the other for a 5-yard gain. Tiger junior Hayden Tuccori intercepted the Bulldogs and carried it back 38 yards for Portola. Berg made 2 kick returns for a total of 23 yards, Peralta brought another back 2 yards. Stewart made 3 punt returns for a total of 41 yards, and Wilson carried a punt back 5 yards closer toward the Tiger goal. The Bulldogs kept the Tigers to a ground game for the most part, but they couldn’t stop the Portola team from making Tiger tracks all over the field.

Peralta made 5 solo tackles and 4 assists along with a quarterback sack! Tuccori pulled down 5 solo tackles and had 3 assists. Senior Andrew Pfingston and Berg both landed 5 solo tackles with one assist. Total Tiger tackles were made by Carr (2), Stewart (3), junior Cody Wilmer, Wilson (4), junior Robert Martell, junior Konnor Bradley, sophomore Braiden Jackson (5), and junior Jacob Juarez (6). Junior Francisco Lopez made 3 kicks for a total of 92 yards and scored the extra point in the 2nd quarter that put the Tigers in the lead before the half. “We are a young team and looking forward to next season,” said coach Heskett. So are we coach, so are we.