By Shel Segal
Entering the season with high hopes, the Mark Keppel High football team was handed a dose of reality on Friday night as it lost to visiting Polytechnic High, 56-18, in a nonleague game.
The Aztecs fall to 0-2 on the season, losing the opener at Ganesha High a week ago, 7-6.
Keppel coach Aaron Sepulveda said the Aztecs were not up to the level of Polytechnic at this time.
“I knew heading into this game that defeating Pasadena Poly would be a tall task,” Sepulveda said. “Our kids put in the work during the week, but the reality is that we are not ready to match a team of Poly's caliber for four quarters. However, we proved that we can compete with good teams when we play with intelligence and tenacity.”
Sepulveda also said while Polytechnic came out strong, he felt the Aztecs did well in the second half.
“The game against Poly was a tale of two halves,” he said. “In the first half, they overwhelmed us with their execution. However, I challenged our team at halftime to respond with great character, and indeed they did. We were able to maintain our pride and outscored them 12-7 in the second half.”
In addition, Sepulveda said he was pleased with the way his players performed despite the loss.
“Overall, I was proud of the poise my staff demonstrated during the game's darkest moments, and the second half grit of my players,” he said. “In addition, we were inspired by the fact that our fans did not depart when we were heavily down at halftime. I noticed the stands were as full at the end of the game as they were during second quarter. I mention this because I believe our fans’ unconditional devotion was symbolically connected to the way our kids responded in the second half.”
And what do the Aztecs need to do to get that elusive win?
“In order to earn a victory next week, our kids need to play with more hunger than they’ve ever had before, and we need to stay the course as a staff,” Sepulveda said.
The Aztecs play next Friday at 7 p.m. at Sierra Vista High in a nonleague matchup.