It's the kind of compliment every football coach would like to give to his team, the one that Dan Bourdon gave his Analy football team Saturday night. It's the kind of compliment that admits error, imperfection, mistakes that make you want to grab a chunk of hair out of your scalp in frustration. It's the kind of a half-muted compliment that reflected this dichotomy: Analy not only handled whatever Tamalpais threw at the Tigers, Analy also handled the stuff the Tigers threw at themselves.
It was almost as if Analy beat two opponents in the first round of the 2012 Division III NCS playoffs Saturday night.
You have to be pretty good to do that.
"We rebounded in the second half," Bourdon said. "We had stretches this year where we didn't play our best football."
And then came his compliment.
"Not playing our best, well, we have to clean that up," the coach said, "but we also won impressively."
Yes, it's nice to be this good: To commit nine penalties, to have your quarterback sacked three times before the game barely makes it into the second quarter and then to win going away, 35-7, to where there's a running clock for the last 9:55. In a playoff game, by the way.
The 2012 Tigers, the first Analy team to go 10-0, is now the first to go 11-0. And just as the first half bore little resemblance to the team that averaged 51 points a game — a 13-0 lead was all it was — the second half on the other hand was more familiar and much more common. Analy quarterback Darin Newman wasn't running for his life.
Settling in with a line that now was blocking for him, Newman finished the game completing 15 of 23 passes for 280 yards and four touchdowns. And you would think throwing for four scores and 280 yards would make Newman the player of the game. Nope. Not this game. For when the Analy offense fluttered and sputtered in the first half, its defense was more than stellar. The Tigers forced six turnovers, five interceptions and a fumble. At the half, the Analy defense had allowed only 24 yards. Analy's defense gave its offense time to breathe, exhale and find its rhythm.
And the player most responsible for that, the player who could take player of the game trophy over a quarterback who threw four touchdowns, was Dylan Mathias. Mathias did catch that 9-yard score from Newman with 2:09 left before the half but it was Mathias intercepting three passes that was the game-changer. Mathias was the decider, as a former president might say.
"This is what happens when you study game film," said the senior. "I could see their tendencies, what they were going to do in certain situations."
That game film study was never more critical or appreciated than with 3:38 left in the third quarter. Analy was up, 21-0, but Tamalpais had recovered a Kyle Lewis fumble on the Analy 20. Two plays later, Tamalpais had a first-and-goal at the 10. If Tamalpais scores, it's 21-7 and some serious clenching of Bourdon's jaw muscles occur.
"But I saw on film they run trips (three receivers on one side) to move out the linebackers," Mathias said. "I knew where the pass was going."