In 2005, the last time the Half Moon Bay High School football team qualified for the playoffs, the Cougars captured a Central Coast Section championship banner with a win over Seaside.
Since then, the Cougars have suffered four seasons of frustration that has finally come to an end: Half Moon Bay (7-3) is back in the CCS playoffs.
After back-to-back 4-6 seasons, the Cougars finished 7-3 in 2008 but were denied a playoff berth and last year’s 6-4 mark also just missed earning a coveted invitation. That all comes to an end on Friday night at 7 p.m. when the Cougars, seeded fourth in Division IV, host No. 5 Greenfield (9-1) looking to repeat the run of the 2005 team.
“We had a tough beginning this year, but we finished strong,” Cougars coach Matt Ballard said. “We just want to keep that momentum going.”
Cougars senior running back Dominic Sena will carry most of the load, as well as the hopes of a deep playoff run for Half Moon Bay.
“He has to have a big game for us if we are to have a chance to win [on Friday],” Ballard said.
But while Sena will power the running game, the Cougars cannot become a one-dimensional team and abandon the pass.
“We have strived to be more balanced all year, we need to do it against Greenfield,” Ballard said.
On defense, the Cougars will see an almost mirror-image of themselves across the line of scrimmage. The Bruins, who finished second in the Mission Trail Athletic League, are a running team first and foremost, and they are very good at what they do when they have the ball.
“They are a well-coached, physical football team,” Ballard said.
By practicing against a run-first offense every day, the Cougars should be well-prepared to stop the Bruins on the ground. But Half Moon Bay has been facing a lot of spread offenses as they navigated their way to a 3-2 record and a third-place finish in the Peninsula Athletic League’s Ocean Division this fall.
“We’ve kind of gotten used to playing against the spread,” Ballard said. “So it will be back to basics for us against Greenfield this week.”
The winner of Friday night’s game will advance to play the winner of Saturday’s game between No. 1 Carmel (9-1) — the only team to defeat Greenfield this year — and No. 8 King’s Academy (6-4) in the semifinals.
WHAT: Central Coast Section Division IV quarterfinal game
WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Half Moon Bay High School
LAST GAME: Half Moon Bay trounced Terra Nova 34-10 on Friday, while Greenfield defeated King City 42-36 in the regular-season finale for both teams.
RECORDS: Half Moon Bay 7-3; Greenfield 9-1