Taco Shack Bowl returns to normal, Taco Shack trophy returns to Mac

Amid a raucous crowd and a return of all Taco Shack traditions, Mac edges Anderson, 14-13 with stingy defense, potent ground game

DEFENSE WINS TACO SHACKS. After a McCallum offsides call on a missed field goal forced the Trojans into going for it on fourth and two, the McCallum defense made the game-saving stop at the goal line. After senior lineman Johan Holmes made the initial hit, senior safety Ez Guenther and senior linebacker Tino Rodriguez made sure the play would go no farther than the line of scrimmage. “I could see that they were in wildcat formation, and their best player was going to get the ball, and it was all going to come down to who wanted it more,” Guenther said. The play thwarted the Trojans’ chance at a game-winning score. The Knights then proceeded to trudge 70 yards towards the Anderson end zone and run out the clock. “This photo just shows we wanted the Taco Shack Bowl more,” Guenther said.

The Taco Shack trophy has come back to Mac. After losing their sophomore year and their junior year, the football class of 2022 led the Knights to a 14-13 victory over the Anderson Trojans on Thursday night at House Park.

The Knights’ points came on two second-half scores: the first, a designed quarterback sneak by senior quarterback Jaxon Rosales and the second a pass from Rosales to senior Nate Davidson. Sophomore kicker Dash Levy converted both extra points. The Mac defense was stout, holding Anderson to two scores and thwarting them twice inside the Mac 10-yard line. In the fourth quarter, the Knight D stopped the Trojans on fourth and 2 at the 1-yard line. In the first quarter, the Knights also repelled the Trojans when Brock Fanning intercepted a pass on Mac’s 7-yard line.

Senior running back and linebacker Colby Napier was quick to point out that the offensive line deserved much credit for the team’s dominant second-half ground attack.

“I gotta shout out my linemen,” Napier said. “They were great, the gaps were huge, so it was pretty easy for me honestly.”

Napier went on to say that even with the illness-induced absence of head coach Thomas Gammerdinger and assistant coaches Chris Russell and Steve Searle that the game plan was solid. 

“I think it was the game plan that the coaches had set out for us that helped us get the win,” Napier said. “It felt great. It was a great game. Seeing everyone’s faces, seeing the coaches all happy. One of the best feelings I’ve ever felt.”

The Knights hope to maintain this momentum when they travel Bob Shelton Stadium to play the Lehman Lobos at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

CAPTAINS’ CRUSADE. Senior captains Brock Fanning, Jaxon Rosales, Tino Rodriguez, Johan Holmes and Ez Guenther walk arm in arm to midfield for the coin flip and handshake before kickoff at House Park. “Oh my god the win was awesome,” Fanning said. “It felt like it was destined to happen with all of us seniors and just banding together and getting through that tough game.” Fanning has been playing with some of his fellow Knights since he was young. “Guys like me, Tino, Ez, and Johan have been playing together for years and the win just felt right.” Photo by Grace Nugent.

LAST HURRAH: Senior Blue Brigade officers Annabel Winter and Charli Cevallos participate in the “Knight Hawk” cheer that the team does at the kickoff of every football game. “It’s a great way to get everyone’s energy up for the game and is a long-time McCallum tradition,” Winter said. Winter and her fellow senior team members felt that their final time dancing at the Taco Shack Bowl was bittersweet, especially because they were unable to lock arms in the stands or perform at halftime last year due to the pandemic. “There was a moment right before we went out to perform at halftime that all the seniors got emotional because we realized it was our last one,” Winter said. “It was a really exciting day overall, and it felt great to come home with a win.” Reporting by Samantha Powers. Photo by David Winter.

TRUMPETING TACO SHACK TUNES: Sophomore Asher Kay, freshman Miguel Sandoval, senior Eva Musgrave and junior Noah Wyrtzen warm up on their trumpets before kickoff at the 2021 Taco Shack Bowl. For Musgrave, the event was much more than just a football game. “Playing on the field after a year was such a special moment,” she said. “All our hard work we had been putting in since band camp was coming together and it was a really amazing feeling hearing the crowd’s reaction. I had missed that a lot.” Reporting by Madelynn Niles. Photo by Dave Winter.

THREE CHEERS FOR MAC CHEER. During the cheer squad’s performance before kickoff, junior Genesis Ritcherson cheers on the football team from the front of the formation. “I was a little nervous,” Richardson said. “It has me right at the front! I was screaming and hollering”. After a not-so-great Taco Shack Bowl last year, it was exciting for her to get back to normal. “It was fun being on the side of the stands and seeing how pumped everybody is for their team.” Photo by Evie Barnard. Reporting by Helen Martin.

RISE SO EARLY IN THE MORN’: Junior Julia Wallace strikes a pose during “Fight Song,” the Blue Brigade’s celebratory cheer. Wallace’s day began at 5 a.m., decorating the Taco Shack restaurant alongside her team members. “It gets really exhausting during the day,” Wallace said. “By the time it’s lunch, you forget that it [the early morning decorations] were the same day.” Though Wallace would consider the day “a lot,” she expresses her gratitude for the experience. “When you’re at the game, you get a bunch of adrenaline and it’s really fun.” Reporting by Alysa Spiro. Photo by Evie Barnard.

COLBY’S CONQUEST. The Knight’s led a triumphant 14-13 comeback victory at the annual Taco Shack Bowl last Thursday night. Linebacker and running back Colby Napier played much of the first half on defense and switched to offense in the 4th quarter. “I gotta shout out my lineman, they were great,” Napier said. “The gaps were huge, it was pretty easy for me honestly.” He praised his team for their offensive work. “Coach Bernard was getting in the lineman’s faces about blocks,” Napier said. “Johan [Holmes] is one of the biggest leaders on the field and he made sure all the gaps were going to be there and Jaxon [Rosales] was protected.” The Knights will take on the Lehman Lobos on Friday at Bob Shelton Stadium. Photo by Amaya Collier.

PULL OUT ALL THE STOPS: Senior running back Colby Napier fights off an Anderson defender with under four minutes left in the annual Taco Shack Bowl. The Knights had gained a one-point lead after senior quarterback Jaxon Rosales threw a touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Nate Davidson. The only thing that stood between the Knights and victory was keeping possession of the ball and holding off the Trojan offense. After an impressive stop by the defensive line and several good runs from the offense, the Knights secured their first Taco Shack win since 2018. “I think it was the game plan that the coaches had set out for us that helped us get the win,” Napier said. “It was a great game. Stopping them at the 1 and then taking it like 70 yards, it just felt great.” Reporting by Grace Nugent. Caption by Kennedy Weatherby. Photo by David Winter.

DEFENSE WINS TACO SHACKS. After a McCallum offsides call on a missed field goal forced the Trojans into going for it on fourth and two, the McCallum defense made the game-saving stop at the goal line. After senior lineman Johan Holmes made the initial hit, senior safety Ez Guenther and senior linebacker Tino Rodriguez made sure the play would go no farther than the line of scrimmage. “I could see that they were in wildcat formation, and their best player was going to get the ball, and it was all going to come down to who wanted it more,” Guenther said. The play thwarted the Trojans’ chance at a game-winning score. The Knights then proceeded to trudge 70 yards towards the Anderson end zone and run out the clock. “This photo just shows we wanted the Taco Shack Bowl more,” Guenther said. Photo by Charlie Partheymuller.

 

DEFENSIVE DELIGHT. Coach Grant and Coach Houston bond over the team’s shared victory at the 2021 Taco Shack Bowl. As the only two paid defense coaches on staff during the game, both Grant, Houston, and the team were under great stress. Yet despite this setback, the team managed to pull through and secure the win for McCallum. “I think that was just a lot of pure emotion and joy coming to a head because it was a tough week,” Grant said about the moment. “Defensive on a two-coach staff is incredibly difficult. And I think it was not disbelief, but it was the first time we could take aside to be proud of what the kids just accomplished.” Photo by Evie Barnard.

GOLDEN GRINS: While celebrating their win, senior Tino Rodriguez proudly holds the historical Taco Shack Bowl trophy with senior Wyatt Cunningham beaming by his side. Cunningham said there was a rush of emotions following their win. “At first, I felt extremely happy, then relieved after all the obstacles our team had to go through coming into this game,” he said. “I’m very proud of the team and coaching staff’s preparation for this game.” During his final year of high school, he’s thankful that they brought the trophy home. “It’s good to know after the last two years, the Taco Shack trophy is back at McCallum.” Photo by Grace Nugent. Reporting by Lucy Marco.