State No. 19 Pittsburg looks like a solid No. 2 in the CIF North Coast Section behind De La Salle and won Friday 42-28 over San Ramon Valley of Danville despite missing several starters.
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An upset special might have been in the works for state No. 19 Pittsburg’s trip to Danville on Friday night to play San Ramon Valley of Danville.
First, the Pirates were not going to be at full strength and among those sidelined was returning East Bay Defensive Player of the Year and Oregon commit Jordan Parker at cornerback and receiver. Second, the host Wolves were coming off of a season-opening 49-7 win over Las Lomas of Walnut Creek. And then third, late in the third quarter, San Ramon Valley had tied Pittsburg 21-21 in what at the time was a back-and-forth contest.
Instead of an upset, however, Pitt (2-0) picked it up on both sides of the ball, scored on three straight possessions, and wound up with a 42-28 triumph.
“Last year it went down to the wire against this team and it’s always a good program,” said Pitt head coach Vic Galli. “In addition to Jordan, we were without a starting offensive lineman, both receivers and both corners and we had a couple of guys suspended. We knew we were going to be thin and we were hoping we’d get by.
“It was not perfect, but that’s two big wins over EBAL (East Bay Athletic League) teams with another one to play.”
That next EBAL team in line is 1-0 Monte Vista of Danville, which opened with a 42-14 win last week and did not play this week.
San Ramon Valley, which still has several games to play before transfer QB Kevin Davidson becomes eligible, kept up with Pitt in the first half and gave itself a chance for the upset thanks to the rushing of senior Colin Clancy.
A 55-yard scoring run by Clancy with 4:58 left in the third quarter lifted the Wolves into a 21-21 tie. Clancy also scored the team’s first touchdown on a 49-yard run and late in the fourth quarter added a 79-yard touchdown to give him unofficially 201 yards on 12 carries.
Pitt definitely shifted into a higher gear, however, with the score tied. The Pirates drove 80 yards in nine plays for a go-ahead touchdown by sophomore A’Jae Boyd on an eight-yard pass from senior QB Christian Young. That was followed by a three-and-out from the Wolves, then another score by Pitt and then yet another three-and-out and yet another TD drive by the Pirates.
After Isaiah Turner had plunged into the end zone on a one-yard run with 7:06 left in the game, the lead had quickly become 42-21. Turner also scored the second of those three TDs on a 31-yard run early in the fourth quarter and finished with 105 yards on 19 carries.
Young operated as the No. 1 QB for most of the night and while he was sacked three times in the first half he rarely threw an incompletion. Unofficially, his stats showed 18 completions in 20 attempts for 245 yards and two touchdowns.
Young’s other TD pass went to senior Dushawn Thomas in the first half. His other top target besides Boyd (eight catches, 61 yards) was senior Namontte Grisby (six catches, 89 yards).
The Pirates also don’t have a problem giving the ball to junior running back Montaz Thompson. He had his moments with 11 carries for 94 yards and one score.
Defensively, Pirate coaches were not happy with the 28 points allowed after a season-opening shutout of San Ramon California. The NorCal Defensive Player of the Week, however, Charlie Ramirez, had another solid night with one interception and nearly getting a second.
Much has been made locally of Pitt switching to a no-huddle offense this season. The team still appears to favor the run more than the pass, but the no huddle approach gives them more options in the short passing game and seems to enable getting the ball out to playmakers in space than in previous Pitt offenses observed over the years.
“We do obviously like to play good teams in the preseason,” Galli said. “For the NCS playoffs, it really helps to play the upper-echelon EBAL teams because if we play well we know we’re going to get a No. 2 seed (in Division I) and we’ll then be able to have playoff games at home.”
The other obvious reason to get a No. 2 seed in the NCS is that the No. 1 seed for nearly 30 years running is De La Salle of Concord and avoiding the Spartans until the championship game also is a good idea.