Antioch battles, DLS wins

Tre White and teammates from Concord De La Salle react during post-game TV interview with Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area after win over Antioch. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Tre White and teammates from Concord De La Salle react during post-game TV interview with Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area after win over Antioch. Photo: Mark Tennis.


It’s still been since 1991 that a Bay Area team or one in the state north of Fresno has been able to beat De La Salle of Concord. The Spartans won again Friday, but Antioch falling by just 28-21 gives hope for the Panthers in a possible playoff rematch and others.

We hope you enjoy this free story on CalHiSports.com. Portions of this year’s All-State Team, which will be done for the 37th time in January, plus state record updates and some of the upcoming first divisional state rankings will be content for our Gold Club members only. You can sign up today for just $9.99 for three months. For details, CLICK HERE.

There weren’t that many sullen faces among the top players at Antioch after the Panthers lost to De La Salle of Concord on Friday in a matchup that was shown on ESPNU to a national TV audience.

As a team from the CIF North Coast Section and greater Bay Area, Antioch players know that the usual score for anyone playing the Spartans is often much more lopsided than 28-21.

Isaiah Dunn gives Antioch a home run threat when teams focus too much on running back Najee Harris. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Wide receiver Isaiah Dunn gives Antioch a home run threat when teams focus too much on big-time running back Najee Harris. Photo: Mark Tennis.


“I think we’ll be more confident after this game,” said Antioch senior Isaiah Dunn, who lifted his team back into contention with a 96-yard kickoff return touchdown early in the fourth quarter. “We now know what we’re capable of doing.”

The Panthers also scored later in the fourth period on a 4-yard run by consensus No. 1 national recruit Najee Harris that cut the deficit to 28-21 with six minutes left in the game. They couldn’t stop De La Salle’s Kairee Robinson when they had to, however, and the Spartans virtually ran out the clock.

Antioch did have two final desperation plays with 12 seconds remaining, but didn’t get close to a score.

It marked the third straight close game for De La Salle, which started No. 1 in the state rankings (mainly for having won six of the last seven CIF Open Division state titles) and then dropped to No. 4 after a 28-27 win over Servite of Anaheim and then to No. 6 after a 23-21 loss to East of Salt Lake City, Utah.

This time, the close game was another Contra Costa County school that began the season at No. 14 in the state and then fell out after a 49-32 loss to Milpitas (which is still unbeaten).

“Antioch showed a lot of guts because we had chances to put them away and we didn’t,” said De La Salle head coach Justin Alumbaugh. “We’ve got to play way more disciplined and much smarter.”

Harris, who finished with 132 yards on 32 carries, had some of his best runs on Antioch’s opening series, which put the ball on De La Salle’s 3-yard line before two straight poor snaps knocked the Panthers back to the 26. There was one stretch of eight straight carries later on in which Najee’s longest run was four yards.

After fumbling on its first two possessions and then getting stopped on downs twice, it wasn’t until there were 16.3 seconds left before halftime until the Spartans scored. It took a 1-yard plunge by Robinson to get it, but it was a risky play because De La Salle had no time outs left and if Robinson had been stopped there likely wouldn’t have been time to get off another play or bring the kicker in for a field goal attempt.

De La Salle then took a two-score lead on its first series of the second half. Runs by Robinson and senior Tre White set it up, with the touchdown coming on a 3-yard run by Robinson.

Antioch scored its first touchdown on a fourth down play as well. That one came from its own 30 on fourth-and-11 when sophomore Willem Karnthong lofted a pass to the end zone that was grabbed between two defenders by Dunn.

The Spartans quickly answered with a 70-yard scoring drive that began on a 33-yard run by Robinson. Senior quarterback Abel Ordaz wrapped it up on a 1-yard run.

Abel Ordaz is the starting QB this year for De La Salle. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Abel Ordaz is the starting QB this year for De La Salle. Photo: Mark Tennis.


Dunn’s long kickoff return TD came next with 11:18 left in the game, but less than two minutes later Robinson, who finished with 250 yards on 27 carries, answered with a 57-yard touchdown jaunt to set the stage for Harris’ touchdown and the clock-killing drive by the Spartans.

“It’s not just the youth we have and that’s not an excuse,” said Alumbaugh, who has several sophomores starting in key spots. “A lot of those guys making mistakes have played a lot of football. We’ve just got to play better.”

Harris, who was the focus of the DLS defense and the ESPNU national audience, seemed to enjoy the challenge.

“The atmosphere was cool and I feel blessed,” Harris said. “I’m glad so many people wanted to see me play and to see if they could stop me.”

While De La Salle does seem much more vulnerable to not being the No. 1 team in Northern California and winning another CIF North Coast Section title (the Spartans have won the title 31 years in a row), it’s also harder to say after Friday which team may have the best odds of doing so.

The next highest team from Northern California in last week’s state rankings, St. Mary’s of Stockton, lost 55-16 to state No. 2 St. John Bosco. The next in line after that, Del Oro of Loomis, has only a two-point win over Bellarmine of San Jose.

The next highest ranked NCS teams, Pittsburg and Monte Vista of Danville, also have had close games, including this week for Pitt against Vacaville and Monte Vista against California of San Ramon.

All of the coaches at De La Salle know that some of the other NCS teams will be closer to them than in many years and they know how much better the Spartans will have to play to approach the level of last year’s team or the level that the top Southern California teams already have gotten to.

Antioch’s players also would love to get another crack at the Spartans in the first NCS Open Division. Their problem is that their league, the Bay Valley Athletic League, has been insane with several teams currently unbeaten.

“I’d say the odds are high we’ll play them again,” Harris said. “But first we’ve got to get ready for Freedom (Oakley), then Heritage (Brentwood) and eventually Pitt.”

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


Enjoy this article?

Find out how you can get access to more exclusive content, one-of-a-kind California high school sports content!

Learn More

2 Comments

  1. jedward
    Posted September 28, 2016 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    We are still months away from playoffs and a lot can change…so I am just throwing this out there…but if let’s say DO or Grant win out going undefeated through the year and in the playoffs with let’s say all games being relative blow-outs save a win against either of each other or a Folsom (as although Folsom lost to Sac, I would imagine DO or Grant would still have a tough time against Folsom as they have been so consistently good for 4 years now), and win against SM, and DLS finishes with their 1 loss and then these close games against Servite and Antioch…who ends up in the Open opposite one of the So Cal teams? This is why we need Nor Cal round robin of 4 for the playoffs…So Cal seems so much stronger this year but how do you judge the North with DLS obviously not at their peak and the possibility of a very strong DO or Grant team but yet no chance to play DLS this year

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted September 29, 2016 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      It’s not like DO or Grant are blowing everyone out. DO has 16-14 win over Bells and Grant one-point win over Rocklin.
      If this was Folsom two years ago and DLS this year, then yes it could happen.
      But if DLS wins NCS Open Div title and doesn’t lose again, its insane domination of NorCal for 26 years just has to be the difference.
      They don’t have time for a NorCal round-robin of four for Open Division but I do think they should have never gotten rid of the two Open Division regional games.
      I can see why they don’t need it the south with the CIFSS D1 bracket, but it is still needed in the north.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

    Latest News

    Insider Blog

    Cal-Hi Sports on Twitter

    Cal-Hi Sports on Facebook