The complete lineup of next weekend’s CIF state finals is set after Saturday’s regional title games. Narbonne of Harbor City and Pittsburg, one team that’s a champion from a section with an Open Division and one team that is a runner-up, both win in D1-A matchups. Fortuna also keeps alive its hopes for a state title with seriously-injured player still in its heart. Other Saturday winners were St. Francis of Mountain View, Grace Brethren, Shasta of Redding, Bishop Diego of Santa Barbara, Half Moon Bay, Steele Canyon, Crenshaw, Milpitas, Southwest of El Centro, Katella, Galileo of San Francisco and Vincent Memorial.
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Note: The only division in which there are no regional finals this weekend is the Open Division. Both De La Salle of Concord (11-1) and Mater Dei of Santa Ana (14-0) go directly into that state final, which will be at Hornet Stadium, Sacramento State – Saturday, Dec. 16 at 8:00 p.m.
North: Folsom 54, Central (Fresno) 35
South: Helix (La Mesa) 28, Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 13
North: Pittsburg 37, Granite Bay 14
The Pirates’ speed was too much for the host Grizzlies as they won their first NorCal regional title and earned first trip to a CIF state final. Pitt (9-2 and No. 20 in most recent State Top 50) scored early and often behind junior QB Justin Boyd, who ended 14 of 19 for 262 yards and three TDs.
Granite Bay, which was 4-7 last season and was seeking second state title game appearance, sliced into a 21-0 deficit with the help of blocked punt touchdown and had it down to 24-14 in the third quarter. Boyd then quickly answered for the Pirates by throwing a short pass to cousin A’jae Boyd, who broke loose for a 73-yard TD. The Grizzlies were essentially out of it by then. They ended 12-3 overall and were No. 24 in the state.
South: Narbonne (Harbor City) 56, Paraclete (Lancaster) 14
The 1-A division may be to the Gauchos’ liking. That’s the division they won their first CIF state crown in 2016 and will be the division they’ll try to win again next week against Pittsburg.
Despite Paraclete having a win over D1-AA state finalist Helix and a competitive loss to CIF Southern Section D2 champion Oaks Christian, the Spirits were overwhelmed on this night. Narbonne, which improved to 11-3 and will move up from this week’s No. 14 state ranking, only gave up 188 yards and collected eight sacks of Paraclete QB Brevin White. Jermar Jefferson also had a banner night at running back for Narbonne. He rushed for 226 yards and four TDs, including a 60-yard jaunt in the third quarter, and he caught a 33-yard TD pass. Demontii Peoples also had two interceptions defensively for Narbonne.
Paraclete, which won the D3AA state title last season, finished 12-2 (not including forfeit win). It’s going to drop pretty far from its No. 12 state ranking. For most of the season, at least, we did have Narbonne higher.
North: Serra (San Mateo) 76, Tulare Union 43
South: Cajon (San Bernardino) 70, Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley) 23
North: St. Francis (Mountain View) 28, Manteca 23
After only losing by one point to league rival Serra of San Mateo in the CIF Central Coast Section Open 2 final last week and knowing what the Padres did in their game on Friday, the Lancers (10-4 and ranked No. 37 in the state) played with a lot of confidence in their win over the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D3 champs.
“I thought we played well against Serra and they showed how much of an outstanding team they have last night,” said Lancers’ head coach Greg Calcagno, whose team will be playing in its second state final but won’t be going on a trip to Southern California this time, instead playing at Sacramento State. “For sure, (we knew how Manteca had beaten Valley Christian earlier in the season) and we had to have some big plays early.”
Junior RB Darrell Page started making those plays with a 47-yard run that set up the first score after Manteca opened the game with a 16-play drive that netted only a field goal and not a touchdown. Then later in the first quarter, Page snuck through another hole but went all the way for a 51-yard touchdown.
Manteca, which was No. 34 in the state and fell to 12-3, never led after those early scores, but cut the margin to 14-10, 21-17 and finally 28-23 on a 45-yard TD pass from Gino Campiotti to Jacob DeJesus with 1:22 left. The Buffaloes didn’t get the onside kick, however, and only had one timeout left. Campiotti, a great leader at quarterback for the team, finished with 231 yards passing and two TDs.
“I liked the way we battled,” said Buffaloes’ head coach Eric Reis. “For us to take on two WCAL teams (they beat Valley Christian 22-20 in their first game) and win one was special.”
South: Grace Brethren (Simi Valley) 24, Aquinas (San Bernardino) 8
Winning Lancers’ head coach Josh Henderson was at Aquinas for nine seasons from 2000 to 2008 so this big win for him was extra special. Grace Brethren (13-2) also is now going to be part of state finals weekend at Sac State for the first time.
Freshman Seven McGee was part of Grace Brethren’s formula of success. He rushed for 107 yards and scored once. The team’s other running back, Lontrelle Diggs, also had nearly 100 yards with TD runs of 13 and 2 yards.
Aquinas dropped its first game in finishing 14-1 and could not spring all-time San Bernardino County rushing leader Branden Rankins for the big gains he had in previous weeks. Still, Rankins churned out for 134 yards. The Saints’ only TD came on a 34-yard passfrom Salieu Ceeesay to Ruben Fabian late in the contest.
North: Shasta (Redding) 40, Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 27
A packed house of nearly 5,000 came out in Redding on Saturday night to see if the Wolves could make some history and they did. It was close at halftime (21-20) but Shasta took over in the third quarter and scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second half to pick up the win.
Vincent Smith, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards heading into the game, scored on a 6-yard run to get the score to 28-20. Seth Park, who often leads the team in rushing yards as often as Smith, had a 3-yard TD and caught a 15-yard TD pass from Ian Garcia.
Marin Catholic couldn’t generate the same type of offensive numbers in last week’s 59-56 win over Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa. The Wildcats dropped to 13-1 and next week likely will fall out of the State Top 50. They were No. 42 with that unbeaten record. Shasta (12-1) may have to go in from the bubble.
South: Bishop Diego (Santa Barbara) 41, Quartz Hill 7
Assistant coach John Hazelton wrote us on Friday that he was hoping the Cardinals could get put on the State Top 50 bubble next week with a strong showing in this game. Well, after that they did on Saturday, it’ll probably be even better.
Bishop Diego (13-2) blasted a Rebels’ team that we mistakenly considered possibly the best of the CIF Southern Section champion teams below Division 5 and had just been put it at No. 48 in the state. While the Cardinals will still have to behind CIFSS D8 champ Grace Brethren with a head-to-head loss, they used a 91-yard TD run by John Harris (206 yards, four TDs) and a blocked punt to put Quartz Hill in an early hole. The Rebels wound up 13-2.
The Cardinals won their first CIFSS crown last week and will now be playing in their first CIF state championship.
North: Half Moon Bay 28, Sutter 7
Despite the final score, Sutter (12-2) didn’t play that badly as the Huskies out-gained the Cougars 345-227. They were just the victims of having a field goal blocked, fumbling twice and getting stopped on the 2-yard line just before halftime that might have given them some momentum in the second half.
That’s not to take anything away from the dream season that Half Moon Bay is experiencing. The Cougars are still unbeaten at 14-0 (see above for Marin Catholic and Quartz Hill above to see how hard that can be) and will now try to add a CIF state title to cap it all off. Chase Hofmann ran for a pair of scored while Gavin Tomberlin ran for one and threw for another.
South: Steele Canyon (Spring Valley) 28, El Modena (Orange) 26
It wasn’t another undefeated team that the Cougars (11-4) had to beat, but they will now get a chance to beat another one next week when they take on Half Moon Bay at home for a CIF state title. Steele Canyon, which took care of both Bishop’s (La Jolla) and Ramona to end those unbeaten seasons in winning their San Diego Section crown, ran out the last 2:31 of the game to turn back the Vanguards. Dontae McKinney led the way with two rushing TDs.
El Modena (12-3) was led by running back Andre Carvajal. He piled up 167 yards on 37 carries and scored three times. The Vanguards scored late to make it a two-point game but couldn’t get the two-point conversion that would have tied the score and then didn’t get the onside kick.
(Game played Friday)
North: Placer (Auburn) 43, Salinas 42 (OT)
South: Crenshaw (Los Angeles) 13, El Camino (Oceanside) 10
The Cougars lost to Concord De La Salle in the Open Division in 2009 in their first try to win a CIF state title and will now get a second chance next week against Placer of Auburn. Obviously, that’s a big difference, but going into this year’s bowl games as the L.A. City Section Open Division runner-up has been an opportunity that they have grabbed by the horns.
Crenshaw (11-3) bounced back from a lopsided loss to state No. 14 Narbonne in its section final by turning back the Wildcats again and again in the second half. They trailed 10-7 at halftime, then took the lead on a TD pass from Isaiah Johnson to Rayshawn Williams. Sophomore Jared Greenfield was one of the defensive standouts as he posted his 13th interception of the season. Ahmire Crowder also scored on defense for Crenshaw on a fumble return.
El Camino (8-6) took its lead at halftime on a 3-yard TD pass from Jaden Casey to Rocky Katoanga. The school was looking to play in its first CIF state final.
North: Milpitas 52, Campolindo (Moraga) 38
After getting upset and suffering first loss to Salinas in CCS Open 1 final, the Trojans were too explosive for the Cougars in this matchup. Milpitas (12-1 not counting forfeit win) also had lost in its two previous NorCal finals, including one to Campo just two years ago.
Tariq Bracy blew up for 310 yards rushing on 36 carries and scored four TDs for the Trojans. They also had 625 yards of offense.
The Cougars nearly matched Milpitas score-for-score behind QB John Torchio. Our NorCal Offensive Player of the Week from last week passed for 330 yards and four TDs and rushed for 131 and another score. He led his team to 588 yards for a two-team total of 1,213. Parker Windatt also had 15 catches for 224 yards and three TDs for the Cougars, who ended 10-5.
South: Southwest (El Centro) 31, San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) 28
A 430-mile road trip that the CIF decided to send the Panthers on came up short as Southwest won and will now host Milpitas for the D4A state title.
With the score tied at 28-28 late in the fourth quarter, SJM had the ball and was looking for a late score to win. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Derek Guzman came up with a huge interception to set up the Eagles. With 20 seconds left, Sergio Ruiz kicked a 26-yard game-winning field goal.
SJM (11-3) led 14-0 in the first quarter, but Southwest (14-0) tied it up at 14-14 and 21-21 and then went ahead 28-21. Alec Trujillo rushed for a score earlier in the fourth quarter for the Panthers to once again tie the score.
North: McClymonds (Oakland) 35, East Nicolaus 12
South: Golden West (Visalia) 41, Big Bear (Big Bear Lake) 21
North: Fortuna 34, Bear River (Lake of the Pines) 20
Fortuna’s season began with a loss to Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa, but it wasn’t the team stepping up in competition that was the worst part of that night. Not by a long shot. Bailey Foley of the Tigers suffered a serious brain injury in that game and was in a self-induced coma for more than a week. It was a near-death experience for all of the players so for them now to be getting a chance to win what would be the school’s first CIF state title is the drama any Hollywood screenwriter would love.
The Tigers (13-2) first became a state title threat with their 33-32 win over unbeaten St. Bernard’s of Eureka in the NCS D4 semifinals. It was thought they might be in trouble against a Bruins’ team that emerged from the very difficult Pioneer Valley League (Placer was the league champion) but they took advantage of two first-half interceptions and got a great game from RB J.B. Lewis. He racked up 137 yards rushing and three TDs.
Bear River, which was playing on the road, ended 10-4.
South: Katella (Anaheim) 36, Monte Vista (Spring Valley) 35
The comeback of the night was turned in by the Knights, who were trailing 35-7 in the third quarter but got the win on a 1-yard TD run by Andrew Pisani and then a two-point conversion run by Pisani with just 1:50 left.
Katella (14-1 and playing in its first SoCal regional final) mounted its rally behind QB Nathan Arrington, who ran for two TDs and threw a 25-yard TD pass to Edward Williams to cut the margin to 35-28. Arrington, who also scored the Knights’ first TD of the night, also completed a 57-yard pass to Isaac Anderson to set up Pisani’s game-winning heroics.
Jahmon McClendon, who had 383 yards and eight TDs rushing in his previous game, led Monte Vista (8-6) once again but was held to 139 yards on 27 carries and two TDs. He also had an interception and fumble recovery on defense.
North: Strathmore 49, St. Patrick-St. Vincent (Vallejo) 35
South: Orange 46, Caruthers 43 (OT)
North: Galileo (San Francisco) 20, Rio Vista 13
After the first two years of the expanded 13-division CIF state bowl games, the San Francisco Section has clearly been the weakest with blowout losses in NorCal D6A play-in games. The Lions, however, have now put that to rest with their road win over the Rams, who two weeks ago won the SJS D7 title.
Galileo (10-2) came back from a 14-0 deficit with the help of a 2-yard interception return TD by Jackie Guo. The Lions, who will be trying to win San Francisco’s first CIF state title after traveling more than 600 miles to Calexico, took the lead with 11 minutes left on a 8-yard run by Yarvell Smith.
Rio Vista ended a 9-4 season and had generated great support from that Sacramento Delta community.
South: Vincent Memorial (Calexico) 40, Huntington Park 18
Turnovers were the story of this game as the victors came up with seven interceptions, including four by Ramiro Cuevas. Huntington Park (11-4) also fumbled once for a game total of eight turnovers.
Prolific QB Eduardo Valenzuela also had another strong showing for the Scots (12-2). He threw four touchdown passes in the first half, according to a report from (yes, he now qualifies for this word) legendary L.A. Times prep writer Eric Sondheimer, who went on the bus with the Huntington Park team.
The Galileo at Vincent Memorial game will be the first CIF state final to be played in the Imperial Valley.
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You have done an incredible job with this football season Mark. I hope regional cable groups are smart enough to give you a show someday.
If they do, I hope to be watching.