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Fifteen weeks ago, after Clayton Valley of Concord had lost a 27-26 heart-breaker to 2014 CIF Division 1 state champ Folsom in Folsom, head coach Tim Murphy told his team it would be back in December just down Highway 50 at Sacramento State.
For much of the season, however, it seemed more than possible that Clayton Valley only having a one-point loss to the Bulldogs might force the CIF to pair them up again in the NorCal Division 1AA bowl game. Injuries and a one-point win over Concord in last week’s CIF North Coast Section Division II championship eventually hurt the Ugly Eagles from a higher division bowl placement, but it’s also safe to say that they probably felt slighted being the road team in Saturday’s NorCal Division 1A matchup against Oak Grove of San Jose.While Oak Grove did avenge its two losses in the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division II playoffs, the Ugly Eagles showed the regular Eagles they were the better Eagles with a 21-3 triumph. They will now meet Narbonne of Harbor City, which also won on the road Saturday with a 35-20 victory against previously unbeaten Ridgeview of Bakersfield. The two teams were No. 11 and No. 12 in last week’s Cal-Hi Sports state rankings and beat teams respectively that were No. 25 and No. 20.
Clayton Valley (13-1) went for a big play early and connected on a 77-yard TD pass from Zia Rahmany to Akeal Lalaind. Oak Grove (11-3) hung tough, but according to the Contra Costa Times could only manage 119 yards of offense against the Ugly Eagle defense. Lalaind later scored again on a 1-yard plunge.
Narbonne (13-2) also gave up an early TD to Ridgeview, but responded to take a 14-7 halftime lead. The Gauchos were leading 28-20 in the fourth quarter when the Wolf Pack (13-1) was driving for a possible game-tying touchdown. Dominic Peterson then came through on defense with an interception and long return that set up Narbonne for a game-extending score.
Kameron Denmark did the honors with a 25-yard TD run, his second of the game, while the team’s other standout back, Sean Riley, had a 7-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
Narbonne, the CIF L.A. City Section Division I champions, has never been in a CIF state final in football. The Gauchos played in the SoCal Open Division in 2012 and lost to Corona Centennial. Clayton Valley lost 34-33 to Redlands East Valley in last year’s CIF Division II state bowl game, which was its first appearance.
Small Schools Open: Central Catholic, San Marino Win
It was another dominating win by the Central Catholic of Modesto football team in the CIF NorCal Small Schools Open Division bowl game, but for San Marino in the south it was a comeback for the ages.
Central Catholic (15-0) mauled Marin Catholic of Kentfield 49-14 and received a record-breaking outing from Fresno State-bound running back Justin Rice. San Marino (15-0) lost starting QB Carson Glazier to an injury and trailed 35-14 heading into the fourth quarter, but down the stretch rallied anyway behind back-up QBs Mark Wicke and Blake Cabot in a 36-35 victory over Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth.
Rice was in the groove from the start against the Wildcats and according to the Modesto Bee ended with a school record 328 yards on 27 carries and scored five touchdowns. Rice also set a school record for season rushing yards. He now has 2,485 yards with one game still remaining.
Glazier, who entered the game with 45 TD passes and threw two more in the first half, went down in the second quarter. The comeback featured a lot of passes to non-injured receiving standout J.P Shohfi. Cabot had a 44-yard TD pass to him and then running back Michael Chan had a 24-yard TD run.
With 1:11 to play, San Marino scored on a one-yard run by Wicke and head coach Mike Hobbie then decided to go for a two-point conversion. Wicke himself again ran it in.
Sierra Canyon (14-1) just couldn’t generate anything in the final seconds. The Trailblazers were led by senior running back Bobby Cole, who had 27 carries for 245 yards.
Central Catholic won the last three CIF Division IV state bowl games and will be going for the four-peat in the new Open Division for small schools.
D2A: St. Francis, Citrus Hill Impress
While both St. Francis of Mountain View and Citrus Hill of Perris posted wins over more than solid opponents in Saturday’s CIF Division 2A regional finals, it’s hard to top what Citrus Hill did against a Calabasas squad that was No. 22 overall in the state and had lost it only game by one-point to 15-0 D2AA SoCal winner Camarillo.
Sure, the Coyotes were missing several starters, including standout junior WR/RB/DB Darnay Holmes, due to their participation in a scuffle last week. But Citrus Hill still landed three players with more than 100 yards rushing – Devin Floyd, Dumar Fisher and Fanau Mikaele – and came up with key interceptions – including two by Michael Washington.
Citrus Hill (13-2) will play the Lancers (12-2) on their home field in next week’s state final. St. Francis is the first team in the history of the CIF bowls that will go for a title after losing in a section final. In their case, the Lancers dropped a 28-24 game to Oak Grove of San Jose in the Central Coast Section Open Division II but moved on into the regional bowls due to a new rule in the CIF that allows runner-ups if it’s from a section with an Open Division.
St. Francis, which suffered its only loss in the regular season to a Bellarmine of San Jose team that will be going for the CIF Division 1AA state title on Friday vs. Mission Viejo, had a long trip to Oroville for its game Saturday and came home with a 29-7 victory over Pleasant Valley of Chico. While Pleasant Valley was 12-0, the Lancers showed their tougher schedule prepared them well. Kamalii Akina threw three touchdown passes to Darius Thomas to lead the offense. Bennett Williams led the defense with two interceptions.
D3A: SHP, RB Make It Happen
We didn’t expect many, if any, running clocks this weekend but there was a few on Saturday night including one in San Jose as Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton had a convincing 56-20 win over previously undefeated McClymonds of Oakland. Lapitu Mahoni had back to back touchdown runs in the first quarter to make it 21-7 after the first quarter and behind three touchdown passes in the second quarter by Mason Randall the Gators (11-3) opened up a 42-14 lead right before halftime. They have the big game experience and it may be needed when they face off against Rancho Bernardo of San Diego next week. In a game that saw points scored in multiple ways, it was the Broncos (12-2) who pulled off a dramatic 31-30 win over Oak Hills of Hesperia to advance to the finals next week. Christian Navarette returned a kickoff 99 yards to give the Bulldogs a 27-24 lead midway through the third quarter and they extended that lead to six early in the fourth quarter before a 43-yard halfback pass from Devaughn Vele to Christian Baker tied it up and after the extra point the Broncos had the lead, which they held on to for the final 10:36. Jeffrey Molino intercepted a pass with 1:23 left for the Broncos, who ended the seven-game winning streak by the Bulldogs.
D4A: Redskins, Twolves Move On
We are quite familiar with the drive to Yuba City and if any Sierra of Manteca fans missed the first quarter of their game against Sutter they missed seeing all the touchdowns but they will have a chance to see more next week after as the Timberwolves (9-5) picked up a 17-13 win and will have a shorter road trip next week when they take on Chowchilla. Mark Paule Jr. scored on a pair of one-yard runs in the first quarter with Sutter’s lone touchdown coming between his two scores on a 92-yard kickoff return. After the first quarter ended, neither team could find the end zone as it was 14-10 at halftime and each team added a field goal in the second half. Despite not tons of games across the state, there were many kickoff returns for touchdowns this weekend including the game between Chowchilla and Fairfax of Los Angeles as the Redskins led 21-3 after a kickoff return for six points right before halftime. Ramses Hernandez then returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a score for the Lions (8-7) but they wouldn’t get any closer the rest of the way. Chowchilla (12-2) is the final school still playing with the Redskins nickname and has shown it isn’t ready to retire it without a state title.
D5A: Eureka to OC Trip Looming
Making sure the St. Bernard’s of Eureka season would not end one week before he wanted, QB Jack Rice had five touchdown passes just in the first half as the Crusaders defeated Fall River of McArthur 55-0 in the CIF NorCal D5A bowl game. Rice eventually ended with seven touchdown passes as Bernard’s (12-1) led 55-0 after three quarters of play before a quick, scoreless final 12 minutes. Down south, the game between Saddleback Valley Christian and Kennedy of Delano saw the Warriors (14-0 on-the-field) blow multiple double-digit leads before scoring the game’s final two touchdowns for a 59-45 win over the Thunderbirds. Cade Henjum had three of his four touchdown passes in the first half as the running game took over in the second half. David Molina caught two touchdown passes in the first half and rushed for the game’s final two touchdowns after it was tied at 45-45 with 6:37 remaining.
Thanks to Stockton office assistant editor Paul Muyskens for contributions. Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports