— by Nolan Kim ’22

Last Friday marked the first game Bellarmine would play in front of spectators in over a year and could potentially mark Bellarmine’s statement for the year to come. The Bellarmine Bells (1-0) defeated the Menlo-Atherton Bears (0-1) in a final score of 56-41. The Bells had an electric first half which was marked in the opening drive when quarterback Wade Smith ’22 threw a 70-yard touchdown to wide receiver Christ Jaeb ’22. Smith would have an impressive game, rushing for 100 yards and effortlessly organizing the Bellarmine offense. The Bellarmine quarterback threw 20 completed passes and finished the game with 280 total yards and 3 touchdowns. Another offensive contributor was Ben Pfaff ’23, who had a monster game. He led the Bellarmine offense throughout the game specifically in the second half. He finished the game with 207 yards over 20 carries and ended with a total of 4 touchdowns. The Bellarmine defense put on an exciting show, forcing 3 turnovers including an interception by Brody Stratz ’22. The game was a back-and-forth shootout with the lead switching several times. Despite Menlo being an exceptionally strong team, the Bells did not give up and came out on top in their first game of the season.

Going into the game, Bellarmine was not expected to defeat Menlo, the number 2 ranked team in CCS. As mentioned, Pfaff had a monster game and attributed his success to his teammates saying, “my line did a great job blocking, especially in the second half when everyone was tired, they kept churning.” When Pfaff reflected on the game he said, “We knew everyone besides us, doubted us. And we made a statement to everyone else and to ourselves that we are a good football team and can play with the best and beat the best.” The game was a statement for this football team and when looking towards the season. Pfaff remarked, “We feel really good and are looking to having a good season.”

For the first time in over a year, spectators were allowed to come to a game and came out in full force. Yell leader, Brennan Kelly ’22 remarked that there were over 200 students in attendance and said, “I think it meant a lot to the players. It was the first game of the regular season so there was a lot of anticipation surrounding the game. Especially against an opponent like Menlo-Atherton, the fans but especially the players were filled with anticipation and definitely some nerves to be back out there.” Pfaff described the fans as a “big energy boost for the team” and felt they helped give the team the extra push they needed in the second half.

In closing remarks, Kelly believed that “You can tell it’s a great group of coaches and players with a lot of mutual love and respect for everyone throughout the team.” Pfaff echoed his statement saying that “the coaching staff has done a great job and refreshed the program, it’s a great feeling when your coaches have your back and they’ll support you no matter what.” This coaching staff have made massive strides and are putting Bellarmine on the map. This can be attributed to Head Coach Jalal Beauchman ’06 who is in his second season coaching for the Bells and was named 49ers Prep Coach of the Week after the game. Coach Beauchman was extremely pleased with the game but remained focused on the upcoming schedule. He said “We have a saying it’s to win each day. Hopefully those wins add up.” Coach Beauchman and Pfaff are focused on their next game against San Leandro (2-0).

The Mercury News bumped the Bells up to the 13th ranked team in the Bay Area, a massive jump. With a big win behind them and a challenge up ahead, we’ll see how the Bells preform and keep an eye on their return.