Justin-Siena FB History Highlights

One of the assistants this season for Justin-Siena head coach Rich Cotruvo will be his son, Kyle. Cotruvo has been the school's head coach since 1997. Photo: Mark Tennis.

One of the assistants this season for Justin-Siena head coach Rich Cotruvo will be his son, Kyle. Cotruvo has been the school’s head coach since 1997. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Napa school that was eligible for CIF regional bowl game last season would get to play in one this season with a second straight North Coast Section title. The Braves’ history, however, mostly occurred when they were in the Sac-Joaquin Section. The school now has all of its football scores in one archive provided by Cal-Hi Sports.

Up next in this series: Lompoc. For more on the Cal-Hi Sports football archives project and on how we can help your school, CLICK HERE.

Starting the calendar of a new century in 2000 didn’t alter the patterns of many people, but it sure marked a huge shift in the athletic history of Napa’s Justin-Siena High School.

It was in the fall of that year when the Braves switched membership from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section, which is where they were from the first football games ever played in 1968, to the CIF North Coast Section.

Only a handful of schools in Northern California have switched sections in the last 20 years, but for Justin-Siena it can safely be said that the switch was very successful, especially for football.

In the first season in the NCS, in fact, head coach Rich Cotruvo’s squad won the NCS Division IV title with a 16-14 victory over Ferndale.

Before 2000, Justin-Siena had captured one SJS football title (1983) and was runner-up twice for different seasons (1973, 1979). Under the NCS affiliation, the Braves have won six section titles (all in Division IV) and have been runner-up twice.

Offensive lineman Henry Grieve (6-2, 250) is one of the top returning players at Justin-Siena for the upcoming season. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Offensive lineman Henry Grieve (6-2, 250) is one of the top returning players at Justin-Siena for the upcoming season. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Napa Valley schools such as Justin-Siena (and also large schools Napa and Vintage) have always been a little torn whether the NCS or the SJS is the best fit. The schools in the county are historically connected more to nearby Sonoma County (which is NCS), but they also are even more connected to schools in Vallejo (which is part of Solano County and SJS).

According to Cotruvo, the Braves were eager to switch in 1999 after a new league affiliation put them in the same group as far-to-reach schools such as Marysville. The school now plays in the Marin County Athletic League and in the NCS playoff divisions also are broken down by enrollment. This means the Braves get to play the bigger schools of the MCAL but rarely plays any of them in the NCS playoffs.

The football team had a winning record in its inaugural season of 1968 (which was before the school was co-ed and was known only as Justin) but most of the opponents were JV teams since the varsity had no seniors. After that came several struggling seasons before a pair of back-to-back 8-1 campaigns under head coach Jim Sykes (who later went on to coach for many seasons at Fairfield).

The first historically significant team in school history was a bunch in 1983 coached by Dave Shipp that won the first section title. Who would have known that after 21-20 loss in the first game to Hogan of Vallejo that the Braves would only come close to losing twice and that was to the same team – Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills (before that school grew too big for a smaller division). It was no problem in the SJS D3 final when Justin-Siena cruised by Ripon 27-6.

After Shipp’s departure prior to the 1987 season, there wasn’t much success for the Braves until Cotruvo took over in 1997. Then, after that 2000 season, came a series of standout teams. The Braves, in fact, have only missed the NCS playoffs once since they joined the section.

Two of the NCS D4 title teams also showed an admirable ability to bounce back from bad losses. In 2004, the team that has had the best record in school history (12-1) suffered a 35-6 loss to Marin Catholic of Kentfield. Then last season, the Braves took on a Sutter team that eventually faced Campolindo of Moraga in the CIF D3 regional bowl game and suffered the worst loss in school history (49-0) but that didn’t prevent them from coming back to get a win over Marin Catholic and eventually winning the NCS D4 crown.

Under the new CIF state regional bowl plan that begins this season, if Justin-Siena can repeat its section title it would then play a NorCal regional bowl game followed potentially by a CIF state bowl game. In a Cal-Hi Sports mock selection of what last year’s games would have been, the Braves were paired up with Winters of the Northern Section in the 5AA Division. We also could have seen them against Bear River of the Sac-Joaquin Section. Southern California schools in the same division would have been Liberty of Madera Ranchos and Bishop’s of La Jolla (both of which were unbeaten).

Here are some other Justin-Siena football records that the school now has in its possession courtesy of this archive initiative:
J-S logo

1960s: 6-9-0

1970s: 41-47-3

1980s: 53-41-1

1990s: 36-65-0

2000s: 86-38-0

2010s: 36-23-0


258 WINS, 223 LOSSES, 4 TIES

(Based on half-win, half-loss for tie)

Best Records For Single Season
12-1 – 2004
11-1 – 1983
8-1 – 1974
8-1-1 – 1973
12-2 – 2014

Worst Records For Single Season
0-7-1 – 1970
1-9 – 2010
1-8 – 1975
1-8 – 1976
1-8 – 1987
1-8 – 1990

Most Points Scored (Single Game)
68 – VS. Salesian (Richmond), 2004
67 – VS. San Rafael, 2012
62 – VS. St. Vincent (Petaluma) JV, 1968
60 – VS. Tamalpais (Mill Valley), 2004
60 – VS. Berean Christian (Walnut Creek), 2005
60 – VS. St. Mary’s (Berkeley), 2011

Most Lopsided Wins
67-0 VS. San Rafael, 2012
62-0 VS. St. Vincent (Petaluma) JV, 1968
60-0 VS. Berean Christian (Walnut Creek), 2005
58-0 VS. Drake (San Anselmo), 2004
56-0 VS. St. Helena, 1999

Most Points Allowed (Single Game)
69 VS. Marin Catholic (Kentfield), 1969
63 VS. Central Catholic (Modesto), 1998
62 VS. Vanden (Fairfield), 1976
58 VS. Dixon, 1997
55 VS. St. Patrick (Vallejo), 1991

Most Lopsided Losses
49-0 VS. Sutter, 2014
48-0 VS. River City (West Sacramento), 1992
48-0 VS. Vanden (Fairfield), 1996
62-15 VS. Vanden (Fairfield), 1976
54-7 VS. St. Patrick (Vallejo), 1996

Records Against Notable Opponents
19-12 VS. St. Helena
7-15 VS. St. Patrick (Vallejo)
3-13 VS. Marin Catholic (Kentfield)

Longest Winning Streaks
12 – 2003-2004 (won last four, then first eight)
11 – 1983-1984 (won last 11, then lost first game in 84)
11 – 2004-2005 (won last four, then first seven)

Longest Losing Streaks
8 – 1976-1977 (lost last seven, then first)
8 – 1987 (lost last eight)
8 – 1988-1989 (lost last seven, then first)

Remember, any school in the state can have this research finished in a customized fashion in return for a reasonable fee. For details, CLICK HERE.

Thanks to Stockton office assistant editor Paul Muyskens for contributing to this post. Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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