San Mateo looks to hand Burlingame its first defeat in Little Big Game

For eight seasons, Jeff Scheller has coached the San Mateo High School football team in hopes of toppling rival Burlingame.

And only once has Scheller left the Little Big Game gridiron the victor.

“It’s getting frustrating,” said Scheller, recalling 2009, the only time during his coaching stint that his team bested the Panthers, a season the Bearcats claimed the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division title as their own. “But they’re always a good team.”

Indeed.

Heading into Saturday’s regular-season finale in San Mateo, Burlingame has already secured the PAL Ocean crown, pummeling opposing defenses with an unrelenting rushing style of play, which has kept them unbeaten at 9-0.

“Anytime you play the Little Big Game, you can only win just that game, and it would be some sort of satisfaction,” said Scheller, whose team sits at 4-5. “And for us, we have no playoffs after this. To beat an undefeated team would be awesome. To be that one mark on their record would be fantastic.”

But if Scheller and Co. are to avoid being Burlingame’s red carpet into the playoffs, they’ll have to invest in their own steady ground game.

“Keep the ball away from their offense, and move the ball quietly,” said Scheller, whose team has over 1,500 rushing yards this season on the backs of Line Latu, Watson Filikitonga and Finau Hafoka. “Their offense scores a lot and their defense give up a lot, so it’s the biggest mountain we have to climb this year.”

And if the Bearcats hope to compete Saturday with the Panthers — who between running backs Manase Palu, Robbie Baumgarten and Keone Keahi have more than 1,700 yards on the ground — they’ll have to play sound defense, specifically linebacker Jason Gonzalez and cornerback Christian Zarco, the team’s captains.

“We have to be disciplined,” Scheller said. “And we have to be game tacklers.”Prep Sports

Just Posted

Salesforce Tower and several other buildings in downtown San Francisco can be seen through the fog; climate scientists report that The City’s beloved mascot may be on the decline. (Courtesy Engel Ching)
Is San Francisco losing its fog? Scientists fear the worst

This isn’t just an identity crisis for San Franciscans. It’s an ecological problem

London Breed, mayor of San Francisco, on May 26, 2021. Black women achieved a historic milestone as mayors of eight major American cities this year and political analysts say the record number points to “the age of Black women in politics.” (Bethany Mollenkof/The New York Times)
Eight Black women who run some of the biggest U.S. cities

By Jennifer Harlan and Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio New York Times… Continue reading

The Bay Area is vying to be one of 16 communities,<ins> spread across the U.S., Canada and Mexico,</ins> to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer championships. Games would be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. (Courtesy Bay Area Host Committee, World Cup 2026)
Bay Area launches bid to host World Cup games in 2026

FIFA officials pay San Francisco a visit as they tour prospective venues

The sun sets over the Bay Area, seen from the Berkeley hills on Oct. 18, 2017. “The gauzy fantasy that we are so much better here in the Bay Area because of our diversity, because we are too focused on the future to get hung up on this region’s ugly past, because we’re so much cooler than everywhere else — lets white liberals pretend that the taint of racism can’t reach them here in this shining city on a bunch of hills.” (Andrew Burton/New York Times)
The Bay Area is far from a haven for progressive diversity and harmony

‘I’ve experienced more day-to-day racism in the Bay Area than in the last capital of the Confederacy.’

Most Read