Bosco Romp Tops CIF Saturday Finals

St. John Bosco’s Aaron Williams stretches for the pylon to complete interception return touchdown in the second quarter of CIF Open Division state final. Photo: Scott Kurtz / Cal-Hi Sports.


Liberty of Bakersfield and Granite Hills of El Cajon also earn CIF state titles in Saturday games at Saddleback College. St. John Bosco’s 45-0 victory over Serra of San Mateo is the powerhouse program’s fourth in the Open Division since 2013 and it’s the sixth straight season (in seven years) in which either the Braves or their rivals from Mater Dei (Santa Ana) have won the state’s top prize. With just one team in that period to have been able to beat either one shows how dominating they’ve been.

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So now that another California high school football season has ended with a rout by either St. John Bosco of Bellflower or Mater Dei of Santa Ana, where do we go from here?

Since 2016, which was the second time the Braves won the CIF Open Division state crown with a rout of Concord De La Salle, the only team in California and probably one of just a handful in the entire nation that has showed it could even come close to either Bosco or Mater Dei has been last season’s squad at Servite of Anaheim (which beat Bosco and lost in one close game in two meetings with the Monarchs).

Head coach Jason Negro’s squad won its fourth state title on Saturday night at Saddleback College and despite Serra of San Mateo being unbeaten and having probably the best team in its school’s history it wasn’t close. As is typical of either Bosco or Mater Dei playing anyone else but each other, the overwhelming talent at the skill positions and hordes of mountain men on the interior who aren’t just 300-pounders but are 300-pounders who can run just makes it impossible for a team that doesn’t bring in that type of talent (or doesn’t want to spend the money it takes to bring them all in) to have much of a chance.

“At the end of the day we are just trying to be the best version of ourselves,” said Negro, who should win the 200th game of his career next season (including 40 wins at Trabuco Hills of Mission Viejo). “We are given great resources by our school and we have a lot of good, young people working hard to do great things.”

Serra head coach Patrick Walsh really had to think for a few seconds to respond to a question about whether he’d want to play in the Open Division next season (the Padres will be the preseason No. 1 team in Northern California next season based on returning starters) if it meant another game like the one his team just played.

“Next year to come back and be underdogs is one thing, but it would be just so hard to win,” he said.

Walsh, who qualified his comments by saying beforehand that he had the utmost respect for Negro and didn’t want to come across as being negative about the Bosco program at all, summed up the reality of playing a team like the ones that the Braves and Monarchs have had in these last recent seasons.

“It seems as if Mater Dei and Bosco are just built differently than the rest of us,” he said. “At some level, it’s not really comparing apples to apples. When they’re playing each other, it’s apples to apples. Maybe if they play a team like IMG Academy or St. Frances of Baltimore, that’s apples to apples.

“I like playing in a competitive world. Our coaches couldn’t have gotten us in a better position with guys from a 13-0 team and we lost 45-0.”

With a lot of the Serra players far behind, DeAndre Moore has just scored on a 45-yard pass reception during CIF Open Division state final. Photo: Scott Kurtz.

The onslaught really began in the second quarter. On the first play of the quarter, Cameron Jones scored on his second 2-yard run of the game for a 14-0 lead by the Braves. Then on the second play by the Padres after the ensuing kickoff, senior Aaron Williams nabbed an interception, raced down the sidelines and hit the end zone pylon for a 31-yard touchdown. The lead grew to 28-0 a few minutes later on a 14-yard scoring run by Khalil Warren.

Serra had a couple of opportunities to score later in the period, but one ended on a fumble scooped up by junior linebacker Kyngston Viliamu-Asa and the other one was stopped on an interception by Marcellus Williams. Bosco’s final touchdown of the first half came on a 45-yard scoring pass from Pierce Clarkson to DeAndre Moore.

At the start of the third quarter, the Padres fumbled on their first possession, which was recovered by Deven Bryant of the Braves. Marcus Lee then converted on a 26-yard field goal that grew the lead to 26 yards.

The teams bogged down for the rest of the third quarter, but following another interception by Marcellus Williams, Warren raced for a 57-yard touchdown. All that was left after that was the coronation.

Serra players Nano Latu, Sam Goligoski and Ryan Moeckel are about to receive 2nd place trophy for the Open Division. Photo: Mark Tennis,


Part of that coronation for Bosco is sitting atop the major national rankings. Since both the Braves and Mater Dei also have easy wins over top teams from other states, the No. 1 national ranking essentially flipped from one to the other with Bosco’s 24-22 win in the CIF Southern Section D1 final two weeks ago. That avenged an earlier 17-10 loss to the Monarchs in the regular season.

With the fourth CIF state title in its history, the Braves also broke a tie with Mater Dei on the all-time list of schools with the most CIF state titles. The Monarchs won their third last year. Bosco is now tied for third with Folsom, McClymonds of Oakland and Central Catholic of Modesto. De La Salle of Concord and Bakersfield are tied for first with seven.

“Losing in the semifinals last year (CIF Southern Section) didn’t sit well with us,” Negro told the crowd during the trophy presentation. “Then with everything from COVID these guys just made a commitment to do this.”

Bosco’s leading rusher on the night was Warren with seven carries for 94 yards. Clarkson ended nine of 17 for 184 yards and one TD. In addition to the pick six, Aaron Williams had 4.5 tackles. Tamal Johnson was Bosco’s leading tackler with seven. Marcellus Williams also later added a second interception.

Serra’s Maealiuaki Smith kept his head up despite the ferocity of the Bosco defense and ended 29 of 51 passing for 220 yards but with no touchdowns and three interceptions.

Jalen Hankins (28) holds CIF state championship trophy for D1-A after Liberty of Bakersfield’s win against Pittsburg. Photo: Mark Tennis / Cal-Hi Sports.

Liberty Takes Down Pitt
For Second Straight Season

BY CHUCK NAN, ORANGE COUNTY CORRESPONDENT

Pittsburg’s Vic Galli finished his 21-year tenure at the school on Saturday with a career mark of 183-67-1 (.731). But the man who led the Pirates to recent prominence and 14 Bay Valley Athletic League titles was looking to notch one more — a state championship victory in the CIF D1-A title game on Saturday at Saddleback College.

The foil once again was the school that ended Pitt’s season in 2021 in the Nor Cal Regional Bowl — Liberty High of Bakersfield. The final in that one was 35-7. The Patriots easily put the hammer down once again, this time 48-20.

“I’m so happy for all the kids and coaches,” said Liberty head coach Bryan Nixon as his school won its first CIF state title. “We played well in all three phases.”

From the start, the Pirates’ offense, led by QB Jaden Rashada, was completely out of synchronization and was never in a viable position to win. Just 90 seconds and five plays into the game, DB Kresean Kizzy intercepted a Rashada pass and made his way to the end zone for a 7-0 Liberty advantage.

Kresean Kizzy sent the Liberty fans into a tizzy with his interception return TD, kickoff return TD and TD catch. Photo: Scott Kurtz / KurtzPhoto.


As the clocked ticked down to close out the first quarter, Pitt was able to engineer a 93-yard drive in three minutes. The march to pay dirt ended when Zach Card took a short three-yard pass from Rashada. The conversion attempt kick was blocked and the Pirates trailed, 7-6.

Undaunted and unfazed, the Patriots were energized. On the ensuing kickoff, Kizzy continued what would be a most memorable evening. The speedy senior retrieved the ball at the four-yard line and did a tightrope dance down the sideline in front of his own bench and eluded would be tacklers to score and Liberty led 14-6 and would never look back.

“They just kind of came out and punched us in the mouth,” Galli said. “Then they had the kickoff return. Against a good team like that you can’t do things like that.”

As the second quarter commenced, the Patriots’ defense applied constant pressure which resulted in sacks of Rashada becoming common. The band was led by Dylan Delgado, who had an impressive game. The ferocious lineman registered four sacks and three tackles for loss in the first half alone and would finish with those totals and additionally log six tackles.

The the last six minutes of the second quarter saw a continued onslaught by Liberty as another offensive star emerged. Xander Chisolm became QB Cole O’Brien’s favorite receiver as he hauled in two touchdowns to extend the Pats’ lead to 27-6 going to intermission. O’Brien and company didn’t throw often, but when they did, he was able to thread the needle.

The third quarter saw Pitt become increasingly deflated as Liberty continued to digest yardage and execute plays leading to more scoring. O’Brien called his own number on the final yard of an 80-yard drive that took nine plays.

Rashada was able to spin some magic with six minutes remaIning in the frame as he led an 80-yard scoring-drive capped by a nice 57-yard strike to Khai Taylor.

The triumphant story of victory continued with the tale of Kizzy. The senior enjoyed one of the best game performances in state championship history. His 85-yard touchdown pass from O’Brien to open the fourth quarter put him in the record book for CIF state championship Bowl history. Although there is no category for touchdowns accounted for in the CIF records, a scan of records that are listed for those who have returned interceptions for touchdowns shows that none of them also scored in those games on a kickoff return. Kizzy thus became the first to score a touchdown on offense, defense and special teams.

“I’ve had three touchdowns before, but never three like that,” Kizzy said. “I’ve always wanted to set a record and I guess I found a way to do it.”

Retiring head coach Vic Galli of Pittsburg accepts runner-up trophy. Photo: Mark Tennis.


Both schools would trade touchdowns to close-out the scoring. Rashada threw a nice 20-yard spiral to Card to finish an 81-yard drive. The Pats tacked on one touchdown when Mekhi Delouth ran 21 yards. The score at that time was 48-20, as it ended.

For Nixon, it was sweet redemption after his Liberty club bowed to Serra (Gardena) last season on the very same field, 21-16. That after leading 9-7 at half time. The Patriots finish with a 13-2 record. Their only setbacks came at the hands of Buchanan (Clovis) and Carlsbad. The loss to Buchanan was avenged.

“We talked about it (last year) and for 365 days they’ve wanted to finish what started last year,” he said. “The kids knew about what happened last year against them and came out ready. It was great to have such a fast start.”

As said, Kizzy blew up the statistic sheet with his performance. He finished with 273 all-purpose yards which included 129 yards receiving, 96 on one kick return and 48 on one interception return.

O’Brien was an efficient 9-of-14 (63.4%) for 242 yards passing and three scores. Liberty churned out 151 rushing yards with Delouth and Jalen Hankins combining for 136. The offensive line provided perfect protection, allowing zero sacks. The stout defense broke through for multiple sacks, and numerous pressures and hurries on Pitt.

The Pirates were led by Rashada’s 320 passing yards and three touchdowns. Receivers Card (6) and Rashid Williams (7) had 124 combined yards. Card had two touchdowns. Elijah Bow gained 76 rough yards on 12 attempts (6.3 average).

“This has been my dream job,” Galli said. “To go 21 years has been quite a journey. I love everything about Pittsburg. There’s so much pride in the program. For me to be a small part of it has been a tremendous experience.”

Isaiah Jackson holds CIF D2-A state championship trophy after he and teammates from Granite Hills edged San Ramon Valley in overtime. Photo: Mark Tennis.

OT Win Gets Granite Hills
It’s First-Ever CIF Title

A four-overtime game that the Granite Hills of El Cajon football team played in earlier this season gave it some experience for having to go into overtime during Saturday’s CIF D2-A state championship game at Saddleback College.

“One overtime? No big deal,” joked Granite Hills athletic director and 2014 State Baseball Coach of the Year James Davis.

It is a big deal that the Eagles came out on top in Saturday’s game, 31-24, over San Ramon Valley of Danville. It’s the first-ever CIF state title for Granite Hills and it earned the CIF San Diego Section its sixth straight win in the last two years of the top division games held at Saddleback. The section’s last loss was in overtime in the 2018 CIF D1-AA final when Folsom defeated Cathedral Catholic.

Parlan Sanders was one of two QBs who had strong moments leading the Granite Hills offense. Photo: Mark Tennis.


Granite Hills (13-2) also has a chance to end the season next week as the Medium Schools State Team of the Year. That one will be announced on Monday.

That four-overtime contest came at the end of the regular season when the Eagles faced Helix of La Mesa, the traditional powerhouse of their Grossmont Hills League and last year’s CIF San Diego Section D1 champion. They won that game, 46-44.

“I definitely think the kids knew all about overtime from that other game,” said Eagles’ head coach Kellan Cobbs. “They knew if they had scored that we’d be going second the next time we had the ball. We talked about going for two on our turn, but ultimately thought our defense would come through.”

After San Ramon Valley tied the score at 24-24 on a 37-yard field goal by Austin Shelton with 14 seconds left in regulation, the Wolves won the coin toss for overtime and elected to go second. Granite Hills therefore went first and converted a fourth-and-one with a 10-yard run by Isaiah Jackson. He then scored on a 2-yard run on the next play.

With Robert Petrich adding the PAT for the Eagles, SRV took its attempt to try to win the game. There was one first down pass from Luke Baker to Danny Drucker and there was one pass into the end zone in which Drucker got his hands on the ball only to have it knocked away by the Eagles’ Joaquin Thomas. Baker also threw incomplete on fourth down to give Granite Hills the win.

“It was just a couple of plays at the end,” said San Ramon Valley head coach Aaron Becker, whose 12-3 team knocked off two unbeaten teams (Campolindo of Moraga and Marin Catholic of Kentfield) to reach the state final. “I love the way we clawed back. We just didn’t connect a couple of times.

Luke Baker of San Ramon Valley stoked fear into the hearts of the players at Granite Hills for the way he led his team. Photo: Mark Tennis.


“It was a tremendous season. I tell the kids that in these games the CIF tries to have evenly matched teams, and that’s what happened today.”

It wasn’t as evenly matched in the first half. The Granite Hills defense only allowed 56 yards on 36 plays and had a 7-0 lead on a 35-yard TD pass from Parlan Sanders to Davion Green. San Ramon Valley finally got going in the third quarter and tied the score for the first time on a 38-yard pass from Baker to Trevor Scott.

Both teams also scored in the fourth quarter before the two field goals that tied it up in regulation. Jackson had a 10-yard run for the Eagles while Baker had a 6-yard run for the Wolves. Petrich made a 38-yard field goal with 2:28 remaining that made it possible for SRV to win or tie on its final drive. Since that became a field goal attempt and not a game-winning touchdown was another feather in the cap for the Granite Hills defense.

Jackson and teammate Maxwell Turner both nearly reached 100 yards rushing for the Eagles — Jackson 13 for 92, 2 TDs and Turner 13 for 91, 1 TD. Baker led the Wolves with 19 carries for 86 yards rushing and 20 of 43 passing for 185 yards and two TDs.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Cobbs when asked what the state title meant for his school. “It’s taken a lot of work over a lot of years. We also have ex-players from the school who are now coaches and that makes it special. We hope with a lot of our young guys coming back that hopefully we’ll be competitive year in, year out.”

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.


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6 Comments

  1. Fumble
    Posted December 11, 2022 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Solution- preseason ask NCS, CCS and SJS if they would like to opt out of Open game. If so take top two teams from Trinity league out of CIFSSD1 and let them play each other in CIF Open State Bowl. This will allow other top teams from SSD1 to have a chance as well as top NorCal teams in lower state bowls than Open…

  2. phil60
    Posted December 11, 2022 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    The state CIF should step in regarding Mater Dei-st John bosco. Make the open division championship game between the two of them. This would allow the southern section D1 winner to play the San Diego Open winner in the 1aa state playoff, and give teams such as Centennial or Mission Viejo a chance to compete. That way a game with the best team in the north would be much more competitive.

  3. Steve
    Posted December 12, 2022 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Would your proposal have MD and Bosco play each other three times in a season.
    Trinity league game, CIF championship and State title game?

  4. phil60
    Posted December 12, 2022 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Only twice. Once In league and in the open. They would not play in d1 playoff.

    • Fumble
      Posted December 12, 2022 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      Exactly, they would go straight to Open if they were the two top Trinity teams. It only works if Norcal sections agreed to it which at some point they will need to.

      • Mark Tennis
        Posted December 13, 2022 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        You are forgetting that the CIFSS is never going to agree to take its top two teams out of its own playoffs.
        Why would they? The solution has to be that the winning team gets to opt out of the CIF Open state game and go to some national game.
        That’s still only part of it. The loser of the MD-Bosco game would still beat the crap out of anybody else, too.
        Perhaps there could be some kind of split bracket like in NCS or a four-team CIFSS Open Division that is a solution. But you know that MD-Bosco losing team isn’t going to be happy with just two postseason games. And we now know the CIFSS isn’t going to put Trinity League teams like OLu last year in D2. The old public-private split might work as well, but should we go to something that drastic in California just because of a couple football teams?
        The way our state is set up, no matter what format you do, it’s going to screw over somebody. Right now, it’s screwing over those very good CIFSS D1 teams like Los Al, Miss V, LB Poly and others. 90 percent of kids, coaches, fans and more in many places in the state don’t care about getting crushed by the two monsters because they’ll never have to play them.

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