Leaders on winning football teams come in different varieties.
Two-way Terra Nova High standout Clark Tolero doesn’t have the most commanding physical stature and he’s not be the most animated of the bunch, but his low-key approach gets the job done.
Tolero, a senior cornerback/slot receiver, has played a key role in helping Terra Nova remain competitive after experiencing heavy graduation losses.
The Tigers are coming off a big 38-14 Peninsula Athletic League bounce-back win over Menlo-Atherton on Friday.
Terra Nova (5-4, 3-1 PAL Bay) experienced a tough 32-31 league loss to Aragon the previous week in which the Tigers blew an 18-point fourth quarter lead.
Terra Nova can secure a share of the PAL Bay title with a win against coastal rival Half Moon Bay (1-8, 0-4) later this week. The Tigers play at Half Moon Bay on Friday at 7 p.m. in the annual "Skull Game."
"There are different kinds of leaders and he's not a real vocal guy but he's one of those guys who does things the right way on the field and off the field," Terra Nova coach Bill Gray said of Tolero.
"He never misses a meeting and he never misses film sessions. He's always doing what's expected, which is a credit to him and his family."
Tolero's leadership role has been especially apparent in his mentorship of his teammates on Terra Nova's defensive secondary.
"We have some very young and inexperienced defensive backs and he's kind of the captain back there making sure everybody's doing what they're supposed to do and making the correct adjustments," Gray said.
Tolero, a straight-A student, is known as a consummate teammate, Gray said.
"He's the kind of student/athlete that we've always relied on here at Terra Nova," Gray said.
Tolero, an athletic 5-foot-10 175-pounder, hopes to play at the collegiate level, but academics - not sports - will determine the school of his choosing Gray said.
Tolero excels at track too. He placed second in the 100-meter dash earlier this year in the in the PAL championships.
"We'll see how things sort out," Gray said. "He doesn't have the physical stature to be a Division I player but there's a lot of very good highly academic colleges that have football teams, so perhaps we can get him into that environment."
Terra Nova played pretty close to a perfect half to start the Menlo-Atherton game, with the Tigers scoring on every possession and playing solid defense to take a 28-7 lead into the intermission.
"In the first half we may have played our best of football all year long," Gray said.
Terra Nova couldn't match that intensity in the second half, and the Bears took advantage, closing to within 28-14 on a rushing touchdown early in the fourth quarter to that was particularly disconcerting with memories of the Aragon debacle from the previous week still fresh.
But this time, there was no panic.
Carlos Grande kicked a 30-yard field goal to extend the Tigers lead to 31-14, and Terra Nova broke the game open when Sam Auelua returned an interception 15 yards for a score that made it 38-14.
Quarterback K'Ren Spain was 21 for 27 passing for 243 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He also rushed for 74 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
Jaylen Jones caught seven passes for 127 yards and one touchdown and Tanner Piccolotti rushed for 109 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries.
"It was a very good effort against a very good team," Gray said. "We learned from our experience."
Two-way lineman Doug De Souza, a coveted collegiate prospect, visited perennial junior college power City College of San Francisco over the weekend, Gray said.
De Souza, who's attracted the attention of Division I scouts, has already visited San Jose State.
Nevada and San Diego State have also experessed interest in the a 6-foot-7 270-pound playmaker, Gray said.
Terra Nova's water polo team concluded its season with a five-game winning streak.
The Tigers capped the winning streak with 16-8 PAL Ocean victory over Mills on Oct. 30 that moved them into third place.
The Tigers, who last season won the PAL Ocean, went through some early growing pains, losing four of their first five league games with a team that experienced heavy graduation losses.
Joel Crossfield led the Tigers with six goals. He is the school's all-time leading scorer with 90 goals.
Joe Diaz added a season-high three goals and Austin Sterling and Aaron Sturtevant each added two goals.
AHC spikers streak snapped:
Alma Heights Christian had its 15-match winning streak snapped when the Eagles lost to More 3-1 (26-28, 25-19, 18-25, 16-25) in a Private School League North championship playoff game.
Jade Tu led the Eagles with 16 kills and setter Keola Lamadora contributed 32 assists.