It’s reigning cats and dogs: the rise of the Bengals and the Bulldogs


John Kim

Seniors Jackson Geier and Manny Mendez hoisting the Suzanne Brown trophy Oct. 25 after their turning point game, when they beat their longtime, crosstown rivals, the Ventura Cougars.

Claire Trask, Staff Writer

After the loss of the beloved Cincinnati Bengals on the Super Bowl stage, we are reminded of our own Bulldogs. Both teams making unexpected advances to victory, the underdogs proved to be victorious…well, to some extent.

One of the 12 NFL football teams to never win a Super Bowl, the Cincinnati Bengals, made history this year as they made it to the top for the first time since they took on the San Francisco 49ers in 1989. Many rooted for the unlikely team underdogs as they took on the Los Angeles Rams on Feb 13, 2022. 

Our own Bulldogs made history this year as well. They went to the CIF playoffs for the first time since 2009. The team triumphed their way to CIF championships, only to face a heartbreaking loss in the last few minutes. 

We had what it took to win, we just didn’t execute.

— Zane Carter

Similar to being new to the field as the Bengals quarterback, Joe Burrow, the one to lead Buena to CIF was Junior quarterback Zane Carter who had only started playing the sport for the first time  his freshman year. However, this did not deter him from offensively leading the Buena football team to a league championship title.

“I feel like we’re underdogs, honestly,” Carter said. “We didn’t think we were going to make it as far as we did. We lost two games in a row, and it wasn’t looking good.”

Before this season, the team’s losing record spoke volumes, many people brushing off the Bulldogs as unworthy of advancing into the postseason. Nevertheless, the team was full of people who possessed the drive to make it possible.

“We have a lot of passionate guys on our team. When we all come together, we’re just something different,” Carter said. 

Even with the trials and tribulations that the pandemic has brought upon the team, the athletes and coaches remained hopeful of a successful season. They were able to remain “comfortable” despite the changes that were made because of Covid and their “resilience translated to the field”, as football coach Ryan Bolland mentioned. 

The team started the season with two losses against Oak Park and West Ranch High Schools, but the losses did not keep them down. They won their next two games against Dos Pueblos and Agoura, and only lost against Rio Mesa. They went on to win 7 more games, defying the odds.

“I never really got cocky,” Carter said. “We just gained confidence.”

Similar to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Bulldogs seemed unbeatable. The Bulldogs had an outstanding 10 wins, matching the win record of the Bengals. The previous year, the Bengals had only secured 4 wins, making their advancement to the postseason and Super Bowl that much more exciting. 

“I’ve been a Bengals fan my whole life,” junior Camden Walker said. “It’s exciting to see them finally make it this far.”

Taken from a poll Feb. 10 on @buenaspeaksnews, the Rams were the favored team, destined to win before the big game even occurred. (Claire Trask)

Just like the last few minutes of the gut wrenching CIF finals football game, the Cincinnati Bengals lost to the Los Angeles Rams on the Super Bowl field by only three points during the last quarter. As for the Bulldogs, they lost to Serrano High School by a mere seven points.

“Higher stake games come with a lot more nerves,” Carter said. “We had what it took to win, we just didn’t execute.”

In their next season, the Bulldog coaches and athletes hope to have a season that is just as successful and plentiful. Knowing how far they can make it, the Bulldogs have the confidence and strength to do it again.

“We are always, as a staff, trying to find ways to be better than we were before,” Bolland said. “It’s a constant evolution of trying to do what’s best for our kids.”