While the five teams from Northern California were winless in games played over the weekend at Saddleback College, it was the exact opposite for the CIF state football finals played at home sites on Saturday in Northern California. All 10 of the SoCal teams were winless. Leading the way was D3AA winner Vanden of Fairfield and D3A champ McClymonds of Oakland.
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Vanden (Fairfield) 14, Aquinas (San Bernardino) 13
Over the last six games, the Vanden offense had been averaging 58 points per game, but the Vikings only needed 14 points and a late fourth quarter rally to overcome Aquinas on Saturday. The CIF Sac-Joaquin Section school won its first state football title and ended 13-2. The Falcons lost in a state final for the second time in three years after falling in 2019 in D2-AA to Clayton Valley of Concord. Note that they did not become the first team in state history to play 17 games as their final official record of 11-6 includes a forfeit win. Their on-the-field record goes down as 10-6.
Aquinas jumped out to a 13-0 advantage by the third quarter, as the Falcons had a 30-yard pick-six from Marcos Perez of Tre Dimes in the second quarter and freshman running back Jojo Solis punched in a score from one-yard out. The extra point was blocked. The hosts didn’t find the end zone until 6:31 remained in the game, as Dimes hit Jamai East for a 13-yard touchdown pass. The score was set up by a blocked punt by Devin Martin. Vanden then forced a stop and drove down the field, with the Vikings converting the first of two fourth downs on a Dimes pass to Jaydeen Robinson for 12 yards on fourth and 10. Dimes then found himself with a third and long and connected with Amarion York on a 16-yard pass to pull to the Aquinas 4-yard line. Then on fourth and two, Dimes hit East for his second touchdown of the game. East would clinch the game on the following drive for the Falcons, as the senior would pull down his second interception of the game.
Game MVP – Jamai East (Vanden).
McClymonds (Oakland) 54, Birmingham (Lake Balboa) 7
Since the Warriors (12-1 and No. 46 in the most recent State TOP 50 rankings, were placed in D3-A for the NorCal regional games, it seemed like a major miscalculation by the CIF. They should have been D2-A or even opposite Central Catholic of Modesto in D2-AA. The Warriors rolled over Campolindo of Moraga, 40-21, in the NorCal game and routed Birmingham even worse in this state title game.
Mack got going early on with a 90-yard kickoff return TD by Jay’Vion Cole. All of the other Warriors kept on showing their speed and physicality. Dwayne McDougle caught two TD passes and had an interception and a sack on defense. Four-year starting QB Dreyen Paul threw for three TDs and ran for one. Jaivian Thomas scored on runs of 5 and 14 yards.
After losing to Pacifica of Oxnard in the 2019 D2-A state final, which broke a streak of winning three straight titles in various divisions in 2016, 2017 and 2018, McClymonds won its fourth state crown. The players told reporter Mike Lefkow of the Bay Area News Group that they were playing for head coach Michael Peters, who was dealing with the impending death of his mother (in hospice care).
Birmingham, representing the CIF L.A. City Section Open Division, finished 9-6. The Patriots also had their nine-game winning streak snapped (which came after an 0-5 start).
Game MVP – Dreyan Paul (McClymonds).
Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 33,
Central Valley Christian (Visalia) 14
Host and CIF Northern Regional champion Marin Catholic used a combination of special teams, defense, and the arms and legs of Michael Ingrassia to post a convincing victory over the visiting Cavaliers. With the victory, the Wildcats (14-1) captured the first state championship in school history after the 2009 team lost in the Division III title game, 24-20, to Serra of Gardena, and the 2012 team, with current Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff, lost in the D3 championship, 38-35, to Madison of San Diego.
Ingrassia, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound senior, completed a 31-yard TD pass to junior JR Bosch that gave Marin Catholic a 14-0 halftime lead. After the Wildcats got the second half kickoff, Ingrassia orchestrated a 9-play, 87-yard drive that culminated when he took it in on a 1-yard plunge to make it 20-0. The lead got to 26-0 when Ingrassia hooked up with sophomore Charles Williams for a 26-0 lead, but in reality it was two pick-sixes that keyed the program’s first state championship — one by Zach Taylor for the first TD and the other by Charlie Knapp for the final score. Ingrassia passed for 168 yards and the two TDs and finishes his senior season with 2,881 yards and 36 TDs with only two interceptions.
Central Valley Christian (11-5) finally scored when quarterback Max Bakker found Chapman Dunn on a 28-yard TD pass, and they scored again with 1:19 remaining when Josh Souza scored on a 3-yard run.
Game MVP – Michael Ingrassia (Marin Catholic).
Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 48,
Northview (Covina) 29
The Fightin’ Irish started the season 0-5, but will finish the year at 9-7 and as 4-A state champions after a victory against Northview at historic Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. It is the school’s first-ever state football title.
Northview (which also ended at 9-7) started out with a 6-0 advantage in the first half after a long 69-yard run by Ronal Tebo deep into Sacred Heart Cathedral territory and a follow up punch in from the Sacred Heart Cathedral one-yard line. The hosts from the West Catholic Athletic League, however, followed up the opening score by Northview with three straight touchdowns. Bruce Uperesa scored on a 55-yard touchdown rush to tie the contest at 6-6. RL Miller then took a handoff 51 yards and followed up his first score with a 35-yard reception from Ray-John Spears. Tebo then grabbed his second score of the game for Northview on a 49-yard pass from Steven Carlin to tie the game 20-20. It looked as the two sides would head into the halftime break all tied, but with less than 10 seconds left before the break Spears hit Isaiah Keishk on a 27-yard flea flicker pass. Sacred Heart Cathedral rode the momentum of the flea flicker into the second half, as Uperesa scored on a 51-yard touchdown to open the third quarter. Spears hit Miller for a third time in the fourth quarter and Jerry Mixon would return a pick-six 63-yards for a score to put the game truly out of reach.
Game MVP – RL Miller (Sacred Heart Catholic).
San Marin (Novato) 20,
Independence (Bakersfield) 14
Within the span of around eight hours, Marin County went from never having won a state championship in football to garnering two after San Marin (14-1) used a stingy defense and overcame a 7-0 early deficit to post a victory over the visiting Falcons. Marin Catholic’s state title win came earlier in the day while San Marin’s was at night.
Just as he did in the first 14 games, Justin Guin carried the Mustangs on both offense and defense, and he did it against a Falcons’ defense that was nearly the equal of San Marin. The 5-11, 180-pound senior running back and free safety rushed for 118 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns, and on defense he had four tackles for losses.
After Independence tied the game at 14-14 on a 1-yard keeper by quarterback Ladon Denmark with 7:59 remaining, San Marin came right back and scored the winning tally on a 36-yard run by Guin with 6:45 left but the PAT sailed wide right. Independence got the ball on its own 39 with 6:38 remaining needing a touchdown and PAT to win the game. The Falcons mounted an 11-play drive that included three third down and one fourth down conversions, but on fourth-and-7 at the San Marin 24 a pass by Denmark was broken up and San Marin took over on downs and ran out the clock.
The victory by San Marin snapped a 9-game winning streak for an Independence team that started the season 0-6.
Game MVP – Justin Guin (San Marin).
Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton) 16,
Righetti (Santa Maria) 0
For the second straight Saturday, the Gators pitched a shutout and this week’s shutout came with a 5-A state title. It is the school’s first state title after losses in its first two appearances (which were in higher divisions).
Sacred Heart Prep picked up a three-yard touchdown run by Anthony Noto halfway through the first quarter and that was enough. Sean Tinsley hit a 19-yard field goal right before the halftime break to give the hosts a 10-0 advantage. Righetti (6-9) wasn’t able to mount much offense against a swarming Gators’ defensive unit, led by LB Mat Bucher (11 tackles), LB Shay O’Kelly (9 tackles) and DB Andrew Rocha (9 tackles).
Sacred Heart Prep started the season 1-4 and entered the postseason 3-7 before rallying off five straight victories in securing the state title. Luis Mendoza had the final touchdown of the game, as the running back scored from two yards out on the right side of the offensive line. John Chung also grabbed an interception and Rocha jumped on a fumble in the second half for the Gators.
Game MVP – Mat Bucher (LB also was a standout in shutout the week before).
Argonaut (Jackson) 47, Quartz Hill 14
Chalin Crawford capped the opening drive of the 6-AA state title game with a close yardage quarterback sneak to put the visitors from the High Desert area of Southern California up 7-0 in the first quarter. The Royals didn’t score again until the fourth quarter, however, as Argonaut fired off 47 unanswered points to grab the victory. It is the Mustangs’ first state title and they ended 12-3. Quartz Hill finished 9-5.
Leading the way for the Mustangs was Mateo Flores, as the running back contributed 222 of Argonaut’s 440 total rushing yards for the game. The junior had four touchdowns with three coming on the ground and one on a pass from quarterback Beau Davis. Colby Eckhart also had three touchdowns for the NorCal hosts, as the senior snagged the first touchdown of the game from Davis and had two rushing scores. Randy Fage intercepted Quartz Hill in the end zone, then Eckhart only needed one carry for the 80-yard score. Argonaut head coach Rick Davis announced earlier in the year that this would be his final season and the coach and his senior son (Beau) head out on top.
Game MVP – Mateo Flores (Argonaut).
Salesian (Richmond) 42, Arlington (Riverside) 21
Heading into the 6-A state title game, the Pride have had a trend of allowing teams to hang around before inching out a close victory. The Salesian faithful in Richmond didn’t have to worry on Saturday, as the North Coast Section side defeated their visitors from Riverside by three scores. The Pride (11-2) won their first CIF state title in 2019 in the same division. Salesian is the only school that won a CIF state title in 2019 that repeated as a state champion.
Both sides were known for emptying the gas tanks early and neither team disappointed, as Salesian took a 21-14 advantage into the second quarter. Noah Del Sol took over the game for the Pride, as the senior running back ran behind his large offensive line, led by 6-3, 300-pound senior Max Haro. Del Sol had four touchdowns for Salesian and had the only two scores in the second half. He also had over 100 yards for the contest. Quarterback Nick Fontanilla also was a perfect 8-for-8 in the first half for 79 yards. Dominic Johnson contributed on all three scores for Arlington (7-9), as the junior quarterback had two rushing scores and added a deep passing touchdown to Mitchell Wood.
Game MVP – Noah Del Sol (Salesian).
Fall River (McArthur) 43, Morro Bay 13
It was 36 degrees at start time between Fall River and Morro Bay and snow was expected late in the game, but the Bulldogs didn’t need to stress about the cold. The weather never bothered them in an easy victory over Morro Bay. Fall River (13-0) became the first team to bring a state football title to Shasta County. And with the 7-AA title the Northern Section small school power keeps its state leading winning streak alive, which now stands at 19 games over three seasons. Super power Mater Dei of Santa Ana has the second-longest with 17 straight wins.
The Bulldogs never trailed in the contest against a Pirates’ club that ended 8-7, as Ryan Osborne opened the scoring with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Evan Bidwell after a nearly eight-minute drive to start the game. The duo would combine for a second touchdown in the third quarter. Bidwell finished the game with five total touchdowns, as the senior wide receiver athlete also added three rushing touchdowns in the victory. Osborne would also add a quarterback keeper for a touchdown.
Game MVP – Evan Bidwell (Fall River).
Balboa (San Francisco) 43, Taft (Woodland Hills) 0
For the fourth straight season, the representative from the San Francisco Section will own the 7-A state championship hardware, as Balboa follows in the footsteps of Lincoln (San Francisco) and Mission (San Francisco) after a victory over Taft.
The running clock blowout started early, as Davondre Black took the opening kickoff back 81 yards for a touchdown and the Buccaneers never trailed. Black would grab the capstone touchdown for the Buccaneers as well, as the senior two-way athlete took a rush 90 yards with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Also having a solid afternoon for Balboa was Orlindale Carraway Jr., as the wide receiver returned a punt to the Taft 10-yard line and then grabbed a 10-yard pass from Ben Nonori for the score. Carraway Jr. also snagged a third quarter interception. This is the first state title victory for Balboa (9-4) in football. Taft finished 7-8.
Next year, look for the SF Section winner to perhaps get moved up while the lowest divisional winner from the CIF Central Section could be moved down.
Game MVP – Davondre Black (Balboa).
Daniel Poulter is a free-lance writer based in Windsor, Calif. He also currently does work for the Napa Valley Register. Follow him @DanielJPoulter. Follow editor Mark Tennis on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports
Interesting spin here on how northern teams dominated at home when everyone with eyes can see it was all small schools with no real power houses from the south. The south had a minimum of 4 schools that would have beaten every northern team including Serra sitting at home. This state series needs to revamp pairings and match teams bases on rank not CIF title.
Don’t think anyone is hinting that the north has superior teams with the 10-0 record in those state title games. Right now, it’s obviously the other way around among the so-called powerhouses.