Serra moves up to No. 2 as unbeaten team so far within the WCAL. Milpitas is right behind and could jump the Padres next week with a win on Friday in a showdown against Los Gatos. San Leandro, meanwhile, is this week’s only newcomer.
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Most local media had predicted a high-scoring shootout on Friday night between Cal-Hi Sports NorCal Division II top-ranked Clayton Valley (Concord) and NorCal D2 third-ranked and host Concord in the battle for the Claycord Cup.
It certainly didn’t start out that way in what looked like a possible rout by visiting Clayton Valley, but when all was said and done the arch-rival Ugly Eagles and Minutemen ended up battling to the very end in an exciting 48-40 Clayton Valley victory played in front of a packed house at Concord.
Miles Harrison rushed 32 times for 326 yards and scored six touchdowns to lead Clayton Valley (8-0) to victory.
When the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Harrison returned the opening kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown, it set the stage for what would be a game of many big plays. After the ensuing Concord drive stalled, it only took Clayton Valley three plays to score when Harrison took it 74 yards to the house for a 14-0 lead.
A 3-yard run by Harrison made it 21-0 in the early second quarter and it looked like the rout was on.
Immediately thereafter, Concord quarterback Mitch Daniels showed why he is one of the East Bay’s top signal-callers. The 6-foot-2, 193-pound Daniels, who finished 32 of 50 for 367 yards and three TDs, gave Minutemen faithful a preview of what was to come by orchestrating a quick 60-yard drive. He found tight end Nolan Brekle on a 6-yard pass on after a 2-point conversion pass to Brekle Concord was on the board trailing 21-8.
Harrison would go 65 yards on the first play of Clayton Valley’s next drive for his fourth score, and after Devin Banks ran 30 yards for a touchdown the Ugly Eagles looked like they would blow it open a second time.
Daniels and the Minutemen, however, would not go away and until the Ugly Eagles finally put it away in the late fourth quarter it looked like Concord might pull it off.
Clayton Valley took a 34-14 lead at halftime but after Concord running back Malik Blackburn scored his second TD early in the final period the ensuing 2-point conversion got it to a 41-34 deficit.
Harrison’s last score gave Clayton Valley a 48-34 lead with 4:55 to go, however just 41 seconds later, Blackburn closed the game to 48-40 on a 41-yard TD run for Concord. After holding on downs, Concord (7-1) drove from its own 34 to the Clayton Valley 4, but a pass from Daniels was tipped by Rich Peralta and intercepted by Elijah Breon with 13 seconds left and Clayton Valley had escaped with a victory.
“We’ve had a lot of blowouts but in the playoffs we’re going to get in close games,” Clayton Valley head coach Tim Murphy said. “A game like this helps us remember how to win a close game.”
In the last eight meetings between the teams since 2009 (including playoffs), the winning team has scored at least 40 points. Last year, Clayton Valley beat Concord 49-48 when a last second two-point conversion pass by Daniels fell incomplete.
The win is the third straight Claycord Cup victory for Clayton Valley after Concord had won three in a row.
As for the future Clayton Valley will continue atop the Cal-Hi Sports NorCal D2 rankings, but with the positives the game exposed some things Murphy admits need fixing.
“The positives are we made them earn it especially at the goal line, but the negatives were apparent. We missed way too many tackles and we almost never give up the deep ball and we gave up way too many deep ones.”
The way both teams looked and with two weeks left in league play, coupled with Windsor losing to Rohnert Park Rancho Cotate on Friday night, the Ugly Eagles and Minutemen may very well meet again for the NCS Division II championship with Concord looking for a reversal of fortunes.
Here are the eighth rankings of the 2014 season (after games of Saturday, Oct. 24; previous ranking in parentheses):
1. (1) De La Salle (Concord) 8-0
Anyone in the Bay Area who said they thought Foothill would do any better than it did against the Spartans in a 56-21 De La Salle victory must have been joshing. The way the Spartans have been playing this season not even the loss of junior quarterback Anthony Sweeney in the first quarter to a shoulder injury could stop the green juggernaut from rolling up 680 yards of offense en route to win No. 256 with no losses against opponents north of Fresno since 1991. Andrew Hernandez (12 carries, 191 yards, three TDs) and Antoine Custer (14 carries, 155 yards, one TD) led the way behind the very proficient offensive line, as De La Salle had a 42-7 lead early in the third quarter before the subs held things even from there out. The next two weeks before the CIF North Coast Section playoffs sees the Spartans on the road against Pleasanton Amador Valley and California of San Ramon.
2. (3) Serra (San Mateo) 5-2
When the Friday night results were posted, there was a suggestion that possibly Milpitas deserved to jump Serra into the No. 1 spot in the CCS to mirror the San Jose Mercury News rankings, and that maybe the way Foothill played against De La Salle would allow them to stay at No. 2 in the Bay Area. The problem with a combination of those two scenarios is a Serra team that is now 4-0 and on top of the West Catholic Athletic League would drop after a 36-10 home win over San Francisco Archbishop Riordan and fall behind leaders of the East Bay Athletic League and the De Anza League. At this point, the CCS Open Division will settle the Serra/Milpitas issue unless one of them loses in league before then.
3. (4) Milpitas 7-0
We couldn’t agree with jumping the Trojans past Serra but going past Foothill for now makes sense since the toughest De Anza League game on Milpitas schedule is coming up this week when they host a Los Gatos team that has a win over the Archbishop Mitty team that Serra hosts this week. This past week, Milpitas had no trouble in a 28-0 whitewashing of a decent Wilcox of Santa Clara. Cros Chavez scored on first-half TD runs of 45 and 50 yards and Christian Rita returned a punt 80 yards for another score. Milpitas recorded its third shutout of the season and has allowed just 30 points all year.
4. (2) Foothill (Pleasanton) 7-1
Foothill still looks solid as the No. 2 team in the NCS despite the 56-21 loss to DLS. At this point, head coach Matt Sweeney has to have his boys focused on taking the positives from the loss to Sparta and moving forward with capturing an EBAL title, something they can do by beating Granada of Livermore and crosstown arch rival Amador Valley the next two weeks on the road.
5. (5) Valley Christian (San Jose) 5-2
The Warriors played without Kirk Johnson (ankle) and the result was a 21-14 double-overtime victory on the road at a St. Francis (Mountain View) team that has played everyone pretty tough. The Warriors led 7-0 late in the fourth quarter but couldn’t close it out when St. Francis scored late in the fourth quarter to force overtime. The teams exchanged TDs in the first overtime and then senior quarterback Michael Machado hit Matthew Figone on a fade pass in the second overtime to give VC the victory. Next up is a Halloween visit from St. Ignatius of San Francisco.
6. (6) Clayton Valley (Concord) 8-0
There is no place to move up at this time for the Ugly Eagles but that could change prior to the NCS Division II playoffs.
7. (7) Bellarmine (San Jose) 6-1
The Bells scored two touchdowns on their first two possessions and then held on for a 20-17 victory over Archbishop Mitty to maintain a tie at 3-1 with Valley Christian for second place in the West Catholic Athletic League. Next up is a visiting Riordan of San Francisco.
8. (8) Los Gatos 6-1
The latest team to put the hurt on Palo Alto blitzed Paly 49-7. Quarterback Dru Brown passed for two touchdowns and all together 13 different ball-carriers combined for 256 yards rushing and five TDs led by Joey Wood with 101 yards and two scores. Next up is Milpitas and a win there would not only jump the Cats up and possibly into the top five but would guarantee without a doubt Los Gatos’ entry into the CCS Open Division playoffs.
9. (9) James Logan (Union City) 6-2
Not a lot can be said about a 60-0 win over Newark Memorial (Newark) except ouch. Prior to the NCS Division I playoffs, the Colts have a little more prancing to do with Fremont Washington and Irvington the next two weeks.
10. (10) Campolindo (Moraga) 8-0
Campo had a bye and now faces arch rival but 2-6 Miramonte (Orinda) in this week’s game. The Cougars’ ranking, however, did get stronger this week due to Napa posting a win over NorCal-ranked Vacaville. Campo had a 52-27 win earlier this season over Napa.
11. (11) Palma (Salinas) 7-0
It was no cakewalk against a very decent Salinas team but the Chieftains got a huge performance from Emilio Martinez to remain perfect and on top of the Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division after a 45-35 victory over the cross-town and arch-rival large school. Martinez, a sophomore running bac,k rushed for 260 yards and five touchdowns on 36 carries. Palma had three interceptions including one in the end zone on an attempt that could have tied the game with 4:45 left. Next up is a road trip to Monterey.
12. (12) St. Francis (Mountain View) 4-3
The offense had problems again this week after being held scoreless until under four minutes remaining in its OT loss to Valley Christian. Between last week’s loss to Serra where they only registered a safety, the Lancers went almost eight quarters without a touchdown. Still, the team’s three losses are to Valley Christian, Palma and Serra, and they have a win over Mitty.
13. (13) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 4-3
The Monarchs, like St. Francis, suffered a very close loss to a higher-ranked opponent last week, in their case Bellarmine. That is why they do not drop in this week’s rankings.
14. (14) San Ramon Valley (Danville) 5-3
The Wolves followed up the close road win at Amador Valley with a 41-14 home victory over Livermore Granada. We thought of moving SRV up past St. Francis and Mitty but it couldn’t be based on a Granada win. With California (San Ramon) on tap, any moves can wait for that result.
15. (15) Pittsburg 5-2
After outscoring Antioch Deer Valley and Brentwood Heritage 84-0 combined the first two weeks on the road in Bay Valley Athletic League play, the Pirates gave up two touchdowns but still came away with a 29-14 win at home against previously-ranked Brentwood Liberty. With the victory Pittsburg stays tied at 3-0 for first place in league with the No. 18 Freedom team they host on Halloween.
16. (16) St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 4-3
In the annual Bruce-Mahoney game, it was all Wildcats in a 20-7 win over their crosstown arch-rival Irish of Sacred Heart Cathedral. Senior quarterback Ryan Hagfeldt shined on Senior Day even if the Saturday afternoon weather was dreary. Hagfeldt accounted for all three touchdowns after passing for 177 yards and two TDs and running for a third score. Next up is a road trip to Valley Christian.
17. (17) California (San Ramon) 6-2
After two weeks in which the offense couldn’t produce more than two touchdowns in a win and a loss, the Grizzlies scored four TDs in a 30-19 win over a young Danville Monte Vista. Next up is San Ramon Valley in the battle for second place in the East Bay Athletic League.
18. (18) Freedom (Oakley) 6-2
There may be those who say a razor thin 21-19 victory over an up-and-down Brentwood Heritage team in a game in which the Falcons had to overcome a 12-7 third quarter deficit caused by some first half fumbles, should possibly warrant a drop. Not here. The Falcons are still tied with Pittsburg at 3-0 for first place in the large school Bay Valley Athletic League.
19. (19) Concord 6-1*
*Forfeit win not included. Losing 48-40 to the top Division II team in Northern California may or may not drop them in the NorCal D2 group but in this crew it nearly got the Minutemen a bump past Freedom.
20. (20) McClymonds (Oakland) 8-0
Mack followed up a 57-0 blanking of Oakland with a 29-8 victory over Fremont. Skyline is next but the question on most everyone’s minds is what will be done about the four games in which an ineligible player was used. Cal-Hi Sports won’t penalize the Warriors in the rankings and their record we post will just have an asterisk added. Playing in the NorCal D4 bowl game, however, probably won’t happen because the record shown on the board during the selection meeting would be the one with forfeit losses included.
21. (21) Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton) 7-0
Although he didn’t have one of the Gators’ four rushing TDs, Riley Tinsley was back in the spotlight after rushing for 126 yards on 12 carries in a 34-14 victory over Sequoia of Redwood City. He also punted twice, including a 66-yarder. In his second game back, Washington-bound Ben Burr-Kirven carried eight times for 58 yards and one score, plus he had a team leading 14 tackles. Next up is Menlo-Atherton of Atherton at home.
22. (22) Salesian (Richmond) 6-2
The Tri-County – Rock League leaders (4-0) followed up their big victory over arch-rival St. Mary’s with an easy 35-7 win over host Hercules. Both losses are to teams ranked in their respective NorCal Bowl Game divisions — D4 No. 2 McClymonds and D2 No. 6 Inderkum and neither blew out the D4 No. 4 ranked Pride. Up next on Saturday is El Cerrito at home.
23. (24) St. Mary’s (Berkeley) 8-1
After the seven-point loss to Salesian two weeks ago, the Panthers rebounded with their largest offensive output of the season in a 67-6 trouncing of host St. Patrick-St. Vincent of Vallejo. Next up is a bye week. With Wilcox losing, the Panthers get to move up a spot and slip in behind Salesian.
24. (NR) San Leandro 4-4
We thought of the possibility of giving this spot to an 8-0 Burlingame team that beat Terra Nova but this past week the Pirates pinned a 17-10 defeat on a Bishop O’Dowd team that also has a win over Terra Nova, and also has a win over James Logan but a loss to Liberty of Brentwood. The San Leandro losses are to large schools that are or were ranked, whereas Burlingame or even the Las Lomas team that also dropped out last week with San Leandro hasn’t played the schedule of San Leandro, so the Pirates pick up the NCS spot lost by Windsor in its defeat by Rancho Cotate.
25. (23) Wilcox (Santa Clara) 5-2
The Chargers were blanked by Milpitas 28-0 last week and their other loss to Manteca is not looking that great after Manteca lost to an Oakdale team that then lost to Sierra of Manteca. Still, Wilcox stands alone at 3-1 in third place behind Milpitas and Los Gatos in the De Anza League and that counts for something. They also still have Los Gatos to face in the final game of the regular season plus the Chargers have a better resume than any bubble team we checked out this week.
Previous No. 25 Windsor
Teams On the Bubble
(In alphabetical order)
Acalanes (Lafayette) 7-1
Alhambra (Martinez) 7-2
Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 5-3
Analy (Sebastopol) 7-1
Aragon (San Mateo) 7-0
Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 5-3
Deer Valley (Antioch) 4-4
El Cerrito 4-4
Justin-Siena (Napa) 5-3
Kennedy (Fremont) 8-0
Las Lomas (Walnut Creek) 6-2
Liberty (Brentwood) 6-2
Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 5-3
Monte Vista (Danville) 3-5
Pioneer (San Jose) 6-1
Rancho Cotate (Rohnert Park) 5-3
Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 3-4
San Benito (Hollister) 4-4
San Leandro 4-4
Terra Nova (Pacifica) 2-5
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