More CIF State Football Crownings

Escalon High players let loose during team photo shoot after their victory over La Jolla last Saturday to win CIF D4-A state title. Photo: Julian A. Lopez / The Modesto Bee.

Here’s our annual one-stop home for every CIF state football title game played for the 2019 season. Check here for links to our Friday/Saturday coverage of games played at Cerritos College. We also have recaps for all of the games played elsewhere in the state up to Crescent City in the far north. We also have an MVP selection for each game and have updated the win-loss records in state title games for each of the CIF’s 10 sections.

LINKS to games played at Cerritos College:

For a look at every MVP and every CIF state final from last season, CLICK HERE.

For a look at every MVP from all 13 of the CIF state finals from 2017 season, CLICK HERE.

For a look at every MVP from all 13 of the CIF state finals from 2016, CLICK HERE.

For a look at every MVP from all 13 CIF state finals from 2015, CLICK HERE.

For a look at every MVP we chose for the CIF finals we watched from 2006 to 2014 in Carson, CLICK HERE.

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(Thanks to Northern California correspondent Daniel Poulter for the writeups)
(MVP choices for Cardinal Newman & SF Lincoln by Harold Abend, who saw both games. The others based on newspaper accounts.)

Division 3-AA
Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 31, El Camino (Oceanside) 14
MVP: Jackson Pavitt (Cardinal Newman)

The Cardinals had made it to a state title game three times in their school history for football and the third time was finally enough to land the title they have desired. The side that resides about an hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge dominated the second half to claim the Division 3-AA title over a solid El Camino (Oceanside) in Santa Rosa on Saturday night in Santa Rosa. The Cardinals (14-1, North Coast Section D4 champion) defeated the Wildcats by shutting out the visitors in the second half to pull off the victory. Cardinal Newman was only up 24-14 at the break. Head coach Paul Cronin’s team didn’t see the field for the North Coast Section championship last season, as delays from fire-related smoke in Northern California forced their possible state title advancement vs. Eureka to be decided by a coin flip. Eureka won the flip to advance to the NorCal bowls and lost to Menlo-Atherton (Atheron). The teams could have played on the field to decide the title, but wouldn’t have been able to play for a possible state title. The quarterback on the team last season was Jackson Pavitt and the senior this season found the end zone three times on rushes on the evening. El Camino, playing in its first CIF state final, finished 9-7 with a San Diego Section D2 title and had a six-game win streak snapped that began with a win over eventual San Diego Section D1 champion Oceanside High.

Division 3-A
Bakersfield Christian 42, Rancho Cotate (Rohnert Park) 21
MVP: Dominic Gamboni (Bakersfield Christian)

The host Cougars raced out to a 14-0 advantage on Saturday evening, as quarterback Jared Stocker scored on a keeper with three minutes left in the first half against the visiting Bakersfield Christian team. It looked like the North Bay League would have two state titles, with Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) taking home a victory over El Camino (Oceanside). Bakersfield Christian bounced back, though, as the Eagles scored 35 unanswered points over just two quarters to pull off the victory. Gamboni’s four touchdown passes, three to Stanford-bound tight end Ben Yurosek, including one for 81 yards off of a deflection, led the way. Gamboni also finished with 344 passing yards. The Cougars (11-4, NCS D3 champion) were within 14 points with 9:15 to play in the fourth quarter after a score, but the Eagles (12-3, Central Sec D3 champion) less than a minute later connected on a 80-yard touchdown pass to jump their lead to the final total. It’s the first state title for Bakersfield Christian and head coach Darren Carr. The school had lost in two previous state title chances.

Division 4-AA
Ripon 31, Highland (Palmdale) 28
MVP: Danny Hernandez (Ripon)

Nathan Valdez booted a 36-yard field goal into the rain on Saturday evening with only 28 seconds remaining, to help Ripon clinch the win over the Bulldogs. This is the first state title for Ripon in its 109-year history. The Indians jumped out to a 21-0 advantage in the second quarter, but Highland found itself ahead 22-21 in the third. Early in the fourth quarter, Ripon (12-1, Sac-Joaquin Section D5 champion) was once again ahead with a Nico Illardi to Troy Brogan touchdown pass just 25 seconds into the final frame. The Bulldogs had a chance to take the lead late with a touchdown run by Isaiah Creech, but the two-point-conversion failed. Highland (12-4, CIFSS D9 champion) didn’t suit up a kicker for the game. Valdez’s field goal was enough for the victory and the senior hit it perfectly, even after playing on both sides of the ball all game. Hernandez has been one of the most versatile players in the SJS all season (including big schools). He scored on a 36-yard interception return vs. Highland, his third pick six of the postseason.

Division 4-A
Escalon 52, La Jolla 21
MVP: Luke Anderson (Escalon)

While fellow Sac-Joaquin Section side Ripon needed a late field goal to clinch its first state title, fellow Trans Valley League foe Escalon ran away with its opportunity. The Cougars (14-1, SJS D6 champion) jumped out to a 17-0 advantage and never trailed in a victory over La Jolla. This is the second state title of the decade for Escalon, as the small school defeated defeated Madison of San Diego in 2010 in Carson. Anderson and Kaden Christensen both finished with three touchdowns and the run heavy Wing-T attack saw three rushers hit 1,000-yards this season. Colton Panero also added a touchdown for the game and the senior back just was able to finish with over 1,000-yards at 1,006. Escalon as a team had 443-yards on 45 attempts for the game, with Anderson being the top earner at 192 yards on 15 total carries. There have only been a handful of teams in California history to have three 1,000-yard rushers. We don’t have a complete list, but Bloomington in 1994 was one of them. The Bruins scored 880 points in 14 games that season. Inglewood also had at least three when it set the state season rushing yards record with 7,309 in the 2000 season. Two teams from the same league winning a state title is more common. It happened just two years ago when Serra of San Mateo and St. Francis of Mountain View did it in D2-AA and D2-A. They are both from the West Catholic Athletic League. The season before in 2016 it also happened with San Diego Western League members Cathedral Catholic in D1-AA and Madison in D2-AA. La Jolla (the San Diego Section D3 champion) ended the season at 10-5.

Division 5-AA
El Monte 32, Del Norte (Crescent City) 7
MVP: Davon Booth (El Monte)

The Lions had one of the longest drives for any team in any state final. The team travelled almost to the Oregon border (more than 700 miles) to take on the NCS D5 champions in this game. They also completed the perfect 16-0 season (15-0 on-the-field with one forfeit), and seemed to thrive in the mud of Del Norte County. The once green grass field turned to mud and Booth was too much for the Warriors to overcome. Booth scored four touchdowns for the game and grabbed 213 rushing yards and was covered from head to toe in mud afterward. The senior will finish the season with 2,935 rushing yards for the season and 36 touchdowns. The Lions are also the first team from the San Gabriel Valley to finish with 16 wins, although we don’t count forfeits and Bishop Amat once won 15 games with no forfeits. The Lancers, in fact, were the first team in state history to go 15-0 when they did it in 1992. Del Norte’s final record will stand at 13-2.

After carrying the ball 56 times (4th most in any game in state history), Luis Contreras still had plenty of energy to celebrate with teammates from Lincoln of San Francisco after CIF D6-AA state title game win over Gardena. Photo: Harold Abend.

Division 5A
Milpitas 34, Reseda 0
MVP: Josue Torres (Milpitas)

After starting the 2019 season 1-6, the Trojans have come back to become a state champions. They came through in a rain storm two weeks ago against Caruthers 26-19 in the NorCal Bowl and left little doubt against the visitors from Reseda. Milpitas (9-6, CCS D4 champion) opened up a 14-point advantage in the first quarter and went on to rout the Regents. Torres has been the main engine for the Trojans this season, and that continued as the 5-foot-8 running back carried the ball 37 times for 219 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. The senior finishes the season with 1,784 yards to his name. Reseda struggled on special teams, with the visitors from Southern California fumbling their first two kick returns of the game. The Regents still had a 11-4 record this season. They won the L.A. City Section D1 title to qualify for the CIF state bowls.

Division 6AA
St. Bernard’s (Eureka) 34, South (Torrance) 20
MVP: Will Omey (St. Bernard’s)

Head coach Matt Tomlin had to depend on a group of travellers from South (Torrance) to give his daughter (Reve) a ride to the game and his team made it an even more memorable experience. The Crusaders (11-3, NCS D6 champion) fell behind by 13 points early in the second quarter, but rallied to score 27 unanswered points to claim their second football state title in a game played at the Redwood Bowl at Humboldt State up in Humboldt County. The Spartans (11-5, CIFSS D14 champion) focused on stopping top Crusaders’ wide receiver Logan Thrap, as the senior has pulled down just over 1,523 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns on the season. Omey took up the challenge for the Crusaders, as the quarterback scored a total of five touchdowns for the game with four coming on the ground and the other coming in the air. Tomlin has always had a bit of flair around him, with the veteran coach attempting two onside kicks to start the second half and connected on both drives with touchdowns. This also was reportedly the first-ever state football championship held in Humboldt County, with the Crusaders’ first title coming on the road in 2015.

Division 6A
Salesian (Richmond) 37, Bishop 18
MVP: Ronald Robertson (Salesian)

The Pride over the years have mainly represented a basketball school, but the Richmond side brought home its first football state title with a 37-18 victory over Bishop Union (Broncos). The Pride (13-2, NCS D7 champion) had the lead for the whole game, but went into the fourth quarter with an 11-point advantage. Robertson, a dual-threat senior quarterback who has been tough to stop all year, had four touchdowns for the game. The signal caller connected with wide reciever Kailan Chang three times. Bishop (11-3) won the CIF Central Section D6 title two weeks ago and then due to travel concerns (the school is in the Eastern Sierras) was given a bye directly into this game. The Broncos had to make the trip to Richmond.

Division 7AA
Lincoln (San Francisco) 35, Gardena 26
MVP: Luis Contreras

Putting his name in the record books, senior running back Contreras used 56 carries to score four touchdowns and rush for 349 yards to help power the Mustangs of the San Francisco Section to their second straight state title. Lincoln (12-1) captured its first state title last season in D6-AA with a triumph over Orange Glen (Escondido). The Panthers (11-5, L.A. City D3 champion) battled Lincoln closely in the first half and went into halftime tied 6-6. Lincoln scored 22 points in the third quarter to pull ahead for good. Contreras’ 56 carries, which was confirmed via film by head coach Phil Ferrigno to Cal-Hi Sports associate editor Harold Abend, will go down at No. 4 on the all-time single game state list. That’s for all games, too. Not just CIF state finals. The record of 71 was set in 2010 by Luis Soto from Saddleback of Santa Ana.

WIN-LOSS RECORDS (2006 to 2019)

San Francisco 3-0
Oakland 3-1
Sac-Joaquin 19-14
Southern 33-27
Northern 3-3
North Coast 18-19
L.A. City 3-4
San Diego 12-15
Central 6-9
Central Coast 6-12

Predictions: We stunk for the games played at Cerritos, only getting one winner correct out of the five games played there. We were much better in the other state finals played on Saturday with eight correct out of the nine games played for a final record of 9-5.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle:

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