Big winners include St. Mary’s of Berkeley, Serra of San Mateo and this week’s only newcomer, Windsor. The North Bay is still shaking, meanwhile, with Napa Justin-Siena’s win over Marin Catholic in a league game.
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Too often the focus in this feature is on De La Salle and the other big schools that dominate the top spots in the Bay Area rankings.
The bottom line, however, is that the small schools count just as much, and a section title in the smaller enrollment divisions is just as important to the players, coaches and the entire school community as a CIF North Coast Section Division I title is to Sparta.
This weekend on Saturday, the Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area caravan ventured to Berkeley to see a pair of CIF North Coast Section defending champions square off in Tri-County – Rock League action.
Host and defending NCS Division IV champion St. Mary’s bolted to 21-0 second quarter and 34-7 halftime leads before overcoming some defensive mistakes in the second half to post a 48-22 victory over defending NCS D3 champion El Cerrito that wasn’t really as close as the score indicates.
The win for the Panthers also erases the sting of setbacks by 57-6 and 43-7 in the last two years to the Gauchos.
“They’ve been handing it to us for two years and our guys really wanted it this time and came out focused,” said St. Mary’s head coach Keith Minor.
St. Mary’s junior running back Tamarick Pierce scored four touchdowns three different ways. His touchdown runs of 30 and 14 yards staked the Panthers to a 14-0 first quarter lead. He also scored just before halftime on a 19-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Ryan Jenkins (200 yards passing, three touchdowns) and he closed out the scoring on a 41-yard interception return.
Besides hitting Pierce for a second quarter TD, Jenkins found Erik Philip on a 68-yard slant screen TD pass and Ben Schrider for a 74-yard tight end TD screen. St. Mary’s other score came on an 18-yard interception return by Nelson White.
“It’s been pretty difficult to beat El Cerrito with all the talent they’ve had so it means a lot but not just because it’s El Cerrito but because it’s another step in our goal of an undefeated season,” All East Bay preseason defensive back and D1 prospect Ron Smith told Cal-Hi Sports.
Justin-Siena uses Thursday night lights switch to change fate
Before the Jewish Holy Day Yom Kippur caused many games, including last week’s Marin Catholic (Kentfield) at Justin-Siena (Napa) contest to be rescheduled to Thursday from Friday, Justin-Siena head coach Rich Cotruvo had won five CIF North Coast Section championships, but despite the lofty resume something was missing.
The one thing that had eluded Cotruvo and Justin-Siena the past 12 years was a victory over Marin Catholic.
That all changed last Thursday when a field goal and a vise-like defense produced a 3-0 Justin-Siena victory.
Not only did the win reverse a dozen years of Justin-Siena frustration, it ended a Marin Catholic 38-game winning streak against Marin County Athletic League opponents.
WCAL City teams come so close
The West Catholic Athletic League San Francisco member teams may be getting a little closer to their South Bay/Peninsula counterparts but on a weekend when all three teams from the City had a chance to make a statement against a foe from down south, all three played very well but each lost with two of three leading after three quarters.
Here are the fifth rankings of the 2014 season (after games of Saturday, Oct. 4):
1. (1) De La Salle (Concord) 6-0
It could have been played on Thursday, Friday or Monday morning. Bottom line is it wouldn’t have made a difference as Sparta registered 70 points for first time since 2011 and had more than 600 yards of offense in 70-14 demolition of Danville San Ramon Valley. Next up is a Logan team that came from behind against O’Dowd in a Saturday afternoon matchup at Levi’s Stadium.
2. (2) Foothill (Pleasanton) 5-0
The Falcons soared in their East Bay Athletic League opener with a 52-0 shellacking of host Livermore. Up next is a 2-3 Danville Monte Vista team that opened EBAL action with a 17-14 upset of previously unbeaten Pleasanton Amador Valley.
3. (3) Bellarmine (San Jose) 4-0
The Bells had to come from behind at St. Ignatius on Saturday after trailing 28-24 heading into the fourth quarter. Antonio Garcia scored on a 30-yard run with 11:18 to go and the defense pitched a shutout the rest of the way in a 31-28 road win over the upstart Wildcats. Bellarmine is now the only West Catholic Athletic League team without a blemish.
4. (4) Serra (San Mateo) 2-2
The Padres opened WCAL play at Valley Christian after a bye, and for those that thought Serra was too high in the rankings they silenced some of the critics with a 24-10 road victory. Next up is a St. Ignatius team that has played everyone close and tough. Junior standout quarterback Hunter Bishop will see his first action of the season after sitting out due to his transfer from St. Francis.
5. (5) Milpitas 5-0
It was an easy 62-3 win by the Trojans in a De Anza League opening victory over Cupertino Monta Vista. Next up is homecoming versus Saratoga.
6. (6) Clayton Valley (Concord) 5-0
The Ugly Eagles had a bye after a big win over Napa. Up next is a Diablo Valley League opener with Concord Mt. Diablo that could be uglier than the ugliest of the Ugly Eagles.
7. (9) St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 3-1
Host Wildcats led 28-24 after three quarters but couldn’t quite close the deal in falling to Bellarmine. This is where the rankings make sense to some but not to others. The close loss coupled with still owning a win over 4-1 St. Mary’s of Stockton actually moves up St. Ignatius this weekend in front of Valley Christian and James Logan. How can Los Gatos or Mitty be in front of St. Ignatius this week since Los Gatos has a loss to St. Mary’s of Stockton and a win over Mitty?
8. (8) James Logan (Union City) 4-1
The Colts overcame a 22-21 deficit to pull out a 27-21 victory over Bishop O’Dowd. Up next is De La Salle at Levi’s Stadium with quarterback Christian Leota a question after injuring a knee early in the O’Dowd game. “It’s an MCL strain and we’ll know more in the next few days,” texted head coach George Zuber on Saturday and continued. “He’s probably out. We had a good game plan ready with him for DLS so it will be a tall order to compete without him.”
9. (7) Valley Christian (San Jose) 2-2
It was a closer loss to Serra than the score indicates and the Warriors fell to .500, but both losses still are to teams ranked above them. Before dropping VC behind Los Gatos and others we also wanted to see what happens in this week’s home game against Bellarmine.
10. (10) Los Gatos 3-1
The Cats had a bye last week before opening De Anza League action this week against a Cupertino Monta Vista team that was rolled last week by Milpitas.
11. (11) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 3-1
The Monarchs overcame a first half deficit to post a hard-fought 33-27 WCAL opening victory over Sacred Heart Cathedral at Foothill College. They continue to fall in behind the Los Gatos team that dealt them their lone loss. Next up is a host St. Francis team that barely escaped with a win over Riordan.
12. (12) Campolindo (Moraga) 6-0
The Cougars were one of the teams to play on Thursday and went to 2-0 in Diablo Foothill League action with a 42-26 victory over visiting San Ramon Dougherty Valley. Next up is a host Martinez Alhambra team that was knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten in a 28-7 loss to Lafayette Acalanes.
13. (13) San Ramon Valley (Danville) 2-3
We’re still going by head-to-head results for SRV, Pittsburg and California to be the next three teams in order. The Wolves just lost their third straight, but it was to No. 1 De La Salle.
14. (14) Pittsburg 3-2
After the 13-7 loss to Mitty. the Pirates had a bye. Next up is a trip to neighboring Antioch Deer Valley.
15. (15) California (San Ramon) 4-1
The Grizzlies went on the road and completed a sweep over the past two weeks against the Livermore teams and went to 2-0 in the EBAL with a 45-21 victory over Granada. On tap is a visiting Amador Valley team coming off a loss to Monte Vista.
16. (16) Freedom (Oakley) 3-2
After the victory over Vacaville Wood two weeks ago, the Falcons had a bye. That was good news for quarterback Joe Sweeny since he has an extra week to re-coup from a concussion he suffered in the Wood win. Next up is a BVAL opener at Antioch and super soph RB Najee Harris.
17. (17) Liberty (Brentwood) 5-0
After the win two weeks ago over San Leandro, the Lions also had a bye. Next up is cross-town arch-rival Heritage to open BVAL play.
18. (18) Concord 4-0*
*Indicates forfeit wins not included. The Minutemen had a bye following their big win over Deer Valley. Pleasant Hill College Park at home is on tap.
19. (19) McClymonds (Oakland) 4-0
After the demolition of Sebastopol Analy, the Warriors also had a bye with Sonoma Valley next up in what could be another demolition derby.
20. (20) Palma (Salinas) 5-0
The Chieftains barely broke a sweat in a 45-0 shellacking of Seaside and now have outscored opponents 166-32 combined this season.
21. (21) San Leandro 1-4
A bye couldn’t have come at a better time for a Pirates team looking to re-group after a grueling non-league schedule. Next up is a trip to Berkeley to open West Alameda County – Foothill League play.
22. (22) St. Francis (Mountain View) 3-1
The Lancers got all they could handle from a visiting San Francisco Archbishop Riordan team after coming from 23-22 down after three quarters to pull out a 25-23 victory. St. Francis actually led 22-0 at one point. Riley Quinn booted a 39-yard field goal with 2:13 left for the game winner. Mitty is next at home.
23. (23) Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton) 5-0
Whether or not Washington-bound Ben Burr-Kirven was available this past week was a moot point because he wasn’t needed in a 42-0 whitewashing of Woodside in a game the Gators chopped their way to a 35-0 halftime lead. Next up is a bye and then a visit to Terra Nova in two weeks to open Peninsula Bay League action in a game Burr-Kirven will almost certainly see action.
24. (25) St. Mary’s (Berkeley) 6-0
The pass defense in the second half looked porous but by then the outcome against El Cerrito was pretty much decided. Next up is Dublin Valley Christian at home.
25. (NR) Windsor 5-0
This spot could have gone to a Wilcox team with a lone loss to Manteca, or a Las Lomas team that has a lone loss to San Ramon Valley. But despite being weak this year the Redwood Empire deserves one spot and the Jaguars claim it with a 27-7 North Bay League win over Petaluma Casa Grande. Next up is a trip to neighboring Santa Rosa Montgomery.
Previous No. 24 Marin Catholic (Kentfield).
Teams On The Bubble
(In alphabetical order)
Acalanes (Lafayette) 4-1
Alhambra (Martinez) 5-1
Alvarez (Salinas) 4-1
Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 4-1
Analy (Sebastopol) 4-1
Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 2-3
Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 3-2
Deer Valley (Antioch) 4-1
El Cerrito 2-3
Justin-Siena (Napa) 4-2
Kennedy (Fremont) 6-0
Las Lomas (Walnut Creek) 4-1
Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 2-3
Rancho Cotate (Rohnert Park) 3-2
Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 3-1
Salesian (Richmond) 3-2
San Benito (Hollister) 3-2
Terra Nova (Pacifica) 1-3
Wilcox (Santa Clara) 3-1
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend