The building of Monte Vista's football program evolved, in many ways, like the building of the school. 1965 was the first year for the high school, and it was coupled with a decision to allow the students and the school to grow together. This was done by starting with a freshman class directed to the new Monte Vista high school, and then adding a new freshman class each succeeding year as the initial class progressed.
But when it was time for the freshmen to begin the fall semester of 1965, the new high school facility in Alamo had not yet completed construction. So the Mustang freshmen were all herded into a special section of the San Ramon Valley High School campus that was used until the initial section of the new school could be opened during Christmas break.
Meanwhile, from a football perspective, the Mustang's hired Cal Gower as the freshman head coach, with a young Ray Crawford to serve as his assistant, and charged them with building the program. Crawford was also the first teacher offered a teaching contract for the new school. The new Mustang team competed with a freshman league schedule. In 1966, the school fielded another freshman team, and also a junior varsity team made up completely of sophomores. As Coach Gower moved on, Coach Crawford became the head coach of the team.
1967 was a transitional year. The team still had no seniors, but played a mixed schedule of varsity squads from small independent schools, and junior varsity squads from a few of the Foothill Athletic League schools (today's DVAL). The Mustangs compiled a 4-1 record against varsity teams from San Lorenzo Valley (Felton), Ripon, Hughson, Hilmar, and the California School for the Deaf. They went 3-0 against the JV squads from Alhambra, Los Lomas, and San Ramon. As a view of things to come, the Mustang's JV tilt with San Ramon Valley was attended by over 2,000 fans.
Monte Vista’s first game in a season with a full varsity schedule was played in 1968 vs. Half Moon Bay. The Mustangs jumped on the Cougars early and often. On the very first play from scrimmage - with Monte Vista finally having senior players, QB Mike Olson hit Perry Simmons with a 65 yard touchdown pass, and the Mustangs went on to win 37-0. The team then went on to complete its first full, varsity, league season in the Foothill Athletic League.
There was great excitement leading up to the first "official" game for the Danville Trophy. The trophy was designed to be a traveling trophy which could be retired if the winners won the trophy for three years in a row. Later that year, the very first game with the Wolves of San Ramon Valley was played, with the Mustangs setting the tone for the future with a 6-0 win. Coach Crawford's teams went on to post three consecutive shutouts of the Wolves in the team's first three games, all on the SRV turf, retiring the trophy and ending the "tradition." The trophy was then turned into a "permanent" traveling trophy.
In 1971 the Mustangs were finally able to move into their own stadium on the school’s Alamo campus. The stadium was later named for Sam Zackheim, a principal at the school in the early 1970's who was a proponent that a strong athletic program is one element of a healthy high school.
There were no plans or funds for lights in the original stadium design. So a group of interested members of the then Monte Vista Booster club - the "Wranglers," led by parent Jay Forni, set out to improve the facility even before the stadium was finished. Jay volunteered to raise funds and design and build the stadium lights. By late 1970, Jay had plans drawn up for a stadium with lights and other additional features at a construction cost of $25,000. The Wranglers sold bonds to raise cash, and Jay used his contacts to get all of the design and engineering completed, while the light poles were being built by his pipe fabrication company.
Construction was planned for the summer of 1971 using volunteer labor (football players, parents etc.). Jay was there every weekday evening from about 5 PM till dark and all day on Saturdays, usually joined by 15 – 20 volunteers. By the end of the summer everybody who worked there had developed some area of construction expertise. The paint was still wet for the first home game in 1971, but the Mustangs finally had a place to call home.
The stadium underwent a major rehabilitation, partially funded by the Monte Vista Stadium Foundation, which was completed in 2007, adding an all weather field surface, all weather track, restrooms, a snack shack, a new score board, and an entranceway and ticket booth.
Monte Vista started out as a member of the Foothill Athletic League (FAL), later moved to the East Bay Athletic League (EBAL), spent a few years in the Bay Valley AThletic League (BVAL), and returned to the EBAL in 1997. The first dozen years of the program had some success and some disappointments. Then in 1981, under rookie head coach Rob Stockberger, the Mustangs won their first EBAL championship, and then kept going to earn their very first North Coast Section Championship in their first entry into the Playoffs - and were named the Class AAA State Champion after the playoffs. The Mustangs enjoyed it so much, they came back and completed a three-peat, winning NCS championships in 1982 and 1983 as well.
The program continued to enjoy success, but the next truly high water mark came in 1987. That year marked a return to the playoff finals, and a return to the winner’s circle in the NCS playoffs with a victory over De LaSalle in the finals, over coach Bob Ladaceur, himself a former Monte Vista assistant coach. The game broke the Spartan’s then 46 game winning streak.
In the early 1990’s,the Mustangs rose to prominence again under coach Rich Cotruvo. The 1992 team became the second Mustang Team to be ranked #1 in California, but suffered a heartbreaking loss to Pittsburgh one game short of a De LaSalle rematch for the NCS championship.
Craig Bergman became the Mustang’s coach in 1997, and immediately got the Mustangs back into the NCS playoffs. The program pounded its way back to the top, culminating in yet another NCS Championship in 2002. That year’s NCS finals victory, a crushing 35-14 victory over San Ramon Valley, was led by senior quarterback Kyle Wright, later named the Gatorade National Player of the Year in high school football.
In 2017, after winning an NCS and EBAL championship in 2016, coach Bergman stepped to the background, and Mustang alum Matt Russi became the new head coach.
Today the Mustangs remain a fixture at or near the top of the EBAL standings and deep into the NCS playoffs. With an overall record of 7 NCS and 11 EBAL championships it is a record of accomplishment that players past and future can be proud of and continue to build upon.