The Toads took to the Lower Field on Saturday for their season opener, against Chadwick School. Thacher last faced Chadwick in 2019 in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs, and notched a win.
As is custom for Thacher, the Toads began on defense. Co-captain and senior Teddy T. forced and recovered a fumble. On the second play of the game, which was a Thacher offensive play, senior quarterback Joe M. threw a touchdown pass to co-captain and senior Hayden H. Within the first minute, the Toads were up 6-0, as they did not convert on the 2 point conversion attempt.
Thacher stopped Chadwick and handed the ball off to junior Gage G. While Grimes gained some yards on several runs, the Toads ultimately did not convert and punted; however, the ball only traveled five yards! Chadwick quickly scored and made the two point conversion: 6-8, Chadwick. In Thacher’s next series, the Toads fumbled, and Chadwick again scored but missed the 2 point conversion:: 6-14, Chadwick. Again, Thacher could not sustain its offense and turned the ball over in its own 17 yard line. Chadwick quickly capitalized: 6-22. That was where the score stood at the close of the first quarter.
At the start of the second quarter, Joe M. completed a long pass to Hayden which put the Toads on the 2 yard line. Joe ran it in, but again, the Toads could not convert: score 12-22 Chadwick with 11:13 left in the quarter. Chadwick quickly answered on a long running play to make it 12-28, but Thacher defense blocked the extra point attempt. Chadwick then kicked off and Hayden received and completed a 60 yard run to put the Toads on the 20. From there, the Toads chipped away, with Gage running for a first down, Hayden running for 3 yards, and finally senior Ajani running it in to make it 18-28. Gage converted on the 2 point conversion to bring the Toads to within one score: 20-28.
Thacher then had the first of several tremendous defensive stands; to stop Chadwick, Gage and Teddy combined for a key tackle. Next. senior Christian G. blitzed the quarterback—his wobbly pass was batted down by Teddy, which ultimately caused Chadwick to punt. Thacher took over with about three minutes to go; after some stalls, Joe connected with Hayden for a 33 yard gain that put Thacher on the 10 yard line with 36 seconds remaining. However, the Toads could not convert: scores was 20-28 at half time.
The Toads began with the ball but ultimately turned it over on downs to Chadwick. Thus commenced another excellent defensive series that included a great tackle by Christian on Chadwick’s second down and brought them to 3rd and 9. Hayden tipped a deep ball on the 3rd down, and Chadwick overthrew it on 4th. On the second play of Thacher’s series, Gage broke free for an electrifying 60 yard run to make the game 26-28. Again with no two point conversion, the Toads remained down with 5:15 left to play in the quarter. Chadwick steadily drove down the field, but as they played from the 18 yard line, Hayden broke up a pass on 3rd and long. On 4th down, Tracy pressured the ball, forcing a bad pass that was broken up in the end zone by junior Kellen M. The score remained 26-28 at the close of the third quarter.
Coach Hooper said that the fourth quarter was “grind time,” and so it began. Hayden opened with a 20 yard run to gain a fresh first down. From there, Gage took over, notching a 9 yard run, a 10 yard run and then, on 3rd down and 5, a long run, jumping and leaping over opponents (not kidding!!!!) to score and put Thacher up 32-28 with 8 minutes to go. Another missed two point conversation left the score narrow. Fortunately, Joe kicked a touchback and Chadwick had to start on their own 15. However, a Chadwick player broke free and looked headed for a touchdown when Gage came across the field and tackled the player at the three yard line. On the next play, Chadwick FUMBLED, and Ajani dove onto the ball to recover it for the Toads at our own five yard line!
At this point, Thacher worked to control the clock and maintain possession. It may not have been grind time but rather Gage time at this point: Gage gained 8 yards and then about thirty yards to carry the ball well across mid field. However, there the offense sputtered. Huchari punted a beautiful punt that pinned Chadwick deep in their own territory with 2:31 remaining. Chadwick moved down the field quickly and eventually landed on Thacher’s 35 yard line. Thacher’s final heroic defensive stand included a tackle from Gage as he held Chadwick at their own line of scrimmage. Next came an incomplete pass. On 3rd down, Teddy rushed the quarterback and forced an incomplete pass; Chadwick threw one final incomplete pass on 4th down, and Thacher regained possession with thirty seconds on the clock. Final score: 32-28, Thacher!!!
The game was electric throughout, with incredible fan support from parents, faculty, students, and friends of the school. The Thacher athletic department did a great job supporting all infrastructure of this first game, including adding an announcer, Mr. Stuart Johnson, who called the entire game from the booth. Finally, it was wonderful to see some Thacher football alums on the sidelines including Lukas Cesena CdeP 2015, Elias Cesena CdeP 2018, and Kai Harned CdeP 2022.
The Toads face off against Mojave at 2 PM on Saturday, September 17. If you cannot make a game, you can always stream it via this link: