In a season of firsts, the Menlo-Atherton High football team can't feel bad about finishing second.
Those firsts included M-A's first appearance in a state football championship, which resulted in a 39-21 setback to Paraclete in the Division 3-AA final at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster on Saturday night.
Along the way were a 12-game winning streak, a PAL Bay Division title, a Central Coast Section title and the realization that the Bears (12-3) could play with just about anybody.
Aajon Johnson grew into his role as a dual threat quarterback throughout the season and Jordan Mims, well, he exceeded all expectations.
It's not the way M-A would have liked to finish, especially giving the ball away six times. The Bears, who opened the year 0-2, had their turnover troubles early in the year, even overcoming six turnovers to beat Los Gatos, a team that eventually won a league title.
This time, the four fumbles and two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, was too much to overcome. M-A also had a touchdown called back due to a penalty.
M-A senior Josh Lepulu suffered a concussion just before halftime, collapsing in a heap after making a tackle. His teammates immediately calling for help.
Lepulu was carted off the field after some anxious minutes and placed into an ambulance, though not before he could signal to the crowd that he could move his hands and arms. He was scheduled for an overnight stay.
Menlo-Atherton scored on its first possession, with Johnson finding Spencer Corona for a 28-yard touchdown.
Johnson ran for 138 yards and a touchdown and threw for another 121 yards, and a touchdown on 10-of-16 passing. Mims rushed for 91 of his 102 yards in the first half. He also scored a touchdown.
When the Bears regroup, without a senior class that helped define the football program the past two years, there will still plenty of opportunity to succeed, and many more goals to set.