Cal-Hi Sports Insider Blog

Quick-hitting, behind-the-scenes news and notes from the CalHiSports.com staff, including previews of upcoming content and events.

Salute to Pete Saco

The longtime commissioner of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section (from 1996 to 2014) died last weekend after a long battle with cancer. His impact on high school athletics will be felt for decades not just in his section but throughout the state.

For the more than 40 years in which we’ve come to know many of the section commissioners in the California Interscholastic Federation, we can say that if there was one who cared just as much about student-athletes, coaches and schools from outside of his or her section that Pete Saco of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section would be first on the list.

Saco speaks to writer Jim McCue shortly before his retirement from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section in 2014. Photo: James K. Leash / SportStars.


Saco, who led the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section from 1996 to 2014, died on Sunday from a cancer battle at age 70 that it was known had reached hospice stage several months ago. His death announcement from the section came out just before the San Francisco 49ers were about to play the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC championship game so many found out about it as they were checking social media on their phones and laptops just before the game or during it.

Although he started his coaching career in basketball, Saco will always be connected to the CIF state football championships. The CIF hadn’t had state football since 1927 when Pete took it upon himself to be the leader to come up with a proposal that could pass all the way through the CIF Federated Council. Working with the support of CIF state commissioner Marie Ishida and along with longtime SJS assistant commissioner John Williams and his own section board of managers, Saco got it done with a plan that was approved in 2005. Under that first plan, only section champions would be eligible, three divisions would be played over one day to start and there would be teams chosen by a committee of CIF section commissioners. The commissioners met after all of the 2005 section football championships were played for a rehearsal of how it might go in 2006.

Saco always knew that once three games were played that the state football championships would continue to grow. It did and in 2008 the Open Division was added. That also was the year that a team from his section, Grant of Sacramento, was involved in a tough race with perennial power De La Salle of Concord plus Bellarmine of San Jose for the NorCal Open berth. He knew the voters on the committee very well, knew which arguments for his team would have the most impact and Grant got the vote. We don’t know his politics, but Pete would have been a great legislator, able to craft bills and get them through Congress or a state senate.

By the time Saco retired in 2014, his final imprint on the CIF state football championships was a proposal that ensured that every CIF section championship team would be at least in a NorCal or SoCal regional. There would be no teams feeling left out. So the next time anyone is excited about winning any of the CIF state titles and raising a state title trophy (such as Grant in D3-AA just this last season) Pete should be thought about first. They really should name those trophies after him, just like the NBA does for trophies in honor of Bill Russell.

There was so much more to Saco than just CIF football. His other career highlights with the section included building the section’s current office building in Lodi, and starting several new projects, including the Dale Lackey Scholarship, the Women in Sports Leadership Conference, and the Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame. We were honored to be the first media inductees into that Hall of Fame and always felt the support and encouragement from Pete to continue and build our work.

Saco was always easy to talk to for members of the media and the section’s media day to start every school year has been very helpful. Photo: Oakdale Leader.


We also remember seeing Saco coach the Lodi High boys basketball team in the early 1980s. We were working at the Tracy Press at the time (while doing Cal-Hi Sports as a side gig) and he was one of those coaches who showed his passion often. We never saw Pete’s team play against Tokay in those years, but there were games between the Flames and Tigers when the Tiger boys were coached by a young coach named Tom Gonsalves, who later would win seven CIF state titles while coaching the girls at St. Mary’s of Stockton. Let’s just say we’ve heard those battles were legendary. Saco later became director of the CIF state basketball championships after he retired from the section and also was a director of the CIF state golf championships.

Perhaps Saco’s greatest challenge while commissioner of the section was dealing with an eligibility issue at Franklin High of Stockton. The Yellowjackets’ head coach in the early to mid-2000s was a wealthy developer, Tom Verner, who wanted to build up his alma-mater but definitely cut corners on rules to do it. In the 2007 season, after the section ruled several players ineligible, Verner (with the support of then Stockton Unified school board president Anthony Silva), decided to thumb his nose at the CIF and had those very same players in the lineup for a game against Tracy. As the story goes, Tracy’s football coach, Mark Stroup, called Saco, not knowing what to do. Saco told him to play the game and that Franklin would be dealt with the following week. At a press conference, Saco gave Franklin what amounted to a “death penalty,” suspending all sports at the school immediately. It is still the most severe punishment that any section commissioner has ever had to hand to out to any school in state history. The section eased some of the restrictions after Verner resigned.

Saco also got to know many of the athletic directors in his section very well. One of those was Ron Nocetti from Jesuit of Carmichael. Nocetti was encouraged by Saco to join the CIF state office, which he did and several years ago after the retirements of Ishida and then Roger Blake it was Nocetti who was named the CIF state executive director.

“For someone who was constantly expressing gratitude to those around him, I don’t think Pete received many thanks during his tenure as the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section commissioner,” Nocetti wrote in a tribute earlier this week. “And he never let that bother him. A lesson that I learned early on from Pete was something that his father told him at an early age, ‘You make sure that you always do what is right, not what is popular.’ I think we can all agree that Pete lived this philosophy every day of his incredible life.”

Pete met the “love of his life” in September of 1977 after a baseball game in South San Francisco. The El Camino High of South San Francisco grad married Barbara in 1979. They lived in Lodi as Saco was building his teaching/administrative career first at Tokay and then later at Lodi High. They retired to the Lincoln Hills area of Placer County after 2014 and enjoyed golfing and traveling until Pete’s illness.

Along with Barbara, Pete is survived brothers James and Joseph along with numerous nephews, nieces and cousins. His obituary also indicated that he had an “adopted” son in one of his former players, Todd Reiswig, and that the two talked every day.

Our thoughts and best wishes also go out to those at the section office still there who worked closely with Pete, especially assistant commissioner Will De Board.

Pete’s services will be Monday at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Lincoln. Burial will be private at a Catholic cemetery the next day in Colma (near South San Francisco).


Attn: Senior FB Players


If there was one thing that the late, legendary football coach Terry Donahue understood it was recruiting players to colleges and how a graduating senior may be unknown but still very much interested in maximizing opportunities to play at the next level.

TO SIGN UP FOR THIS YEAR’S CALIFORNIA FOOTBALL SHOWCASE,
CLICK HERE.

That’s partly why 10 years ago Coach Donahue founded the Terry Donahue California Football Showcase, which says it is for graduating high school seniors and second year community college student-athletes to have an opportunity to display their skills to NCAA Division II, III, and NAIA football programs in a one-day (absolutely free) skills combine.

This year’s California Football Showcase will take place on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Great Park, Irvine, which also is one day before the Super Bowl.

Donahue was the head coach at UCLA from 1976 to 1995 and remains the winningest football coach in school history with 151 career wins. He also was general manager of the San Francisco 49ers from 2001 to 2005. He remained very active in the sport until his death in 2021 at age 77 due to cancer. He also was easily able to put himself into the shoes of the very players that the California Football Showcase aims to help. Donahue was not recruited much as an undersized player from Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, but attended San Jose State as a walk-on, then went to L.A. Valley College and then walked-on as a player at UCLA.

The event will feature student-athletes from all over California and brings together NCAA Division II, III, and NAIA college/universities from across the country, as well as California community college programs. Players will showcase their skills during a series of tests and drills that will best display each player’s talent at their respective positions. The CA Showcase will be organized and managed by former college and professional football players and coaches associated with Coach Donahue throughout his career.

Following the activities, players and coaches from the colleges/universities will meet in an adjacent facility to discuss scholarship and financial aid opportunities. Admission in the area will be restricted to student-athletes, participating coaches and volunteers, visiting high school and college/university coaches and/or administrators, and the media.


All-State FB Patch List For Juniors

All-State Football Patches will again be handled this year by our friends at BillyTees.com. For more information about Cal-Hi Sports merchandise at BillyTees.com, CLICK HERE.


Congratulations to the following players listed in alphabetical order who have been selected to either first team, second team or third team on the 2022 Cal-Hi Sports All-State Junior Football Teams for the fall season. These players and their families can now order an official all-state football patch plus you’ll get a certificate through our partners at BillyTees.com. We also wanted to post the names on a list so we’re not collecting a subscription from a parent who is only interested in seeing if their son has been picked and then finds out the son wasn’t picked.

For ordering info to get 2022 all-state football patch, CLICK HERE.

To get a Gold Club subscription so you can see the complete presentation of the Cal-Hi Sports 2022 All-State Junior Football Teams (fall season), CLICK HERE.

First or Second Teams

Marley Alapati (Serra, San Mateo)
DayDay Aiupiu (Pacifica, Oxnard)
Brandon Baker (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
Luke Baker (San Ramon Valley)
Joseph Bey (Serra, San Mateo)
Stacy Bey (Bishop Amat)
Kobe Boykin (Orange)
Terrell Bradshaw Jr. (Inglewood)
Eugene Brooks (Sierra Canyon)
Elijah Brown (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
Zabien Brown (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
Aaron Butler (Calabasas)
Isaiah Buxton (Mater Dei Catholic)
DeAndre Carter (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
David Clifford (Poway)
Kodi Cornelius (Casa Grande)
Darius Curry (Long Beach Poly)
Ethan Dasmann (Oak Ridge)
Paki Finau (Oak Hills)
Sire Gaines (Orange Vista)
Marquis Gallegos (Chaminade)
Omari Gayles (St. Mary’s, Stockton)
Josh Glanz (Eastlake)
Dillon Gresham (San Jacinto)
Cornell Hatcher (Centennial)
J.T. Houston (Warren)
Myles Jackson (Millikan)
Jericho Johnson (Armijo)
Cameron Jones (St. John Bosco)
Xavier Jordan (Cathedral, Los Angeles)
King Large (St. John Bosco)
Kingston Lopa (Grant, Sacramento)
Justin Ludovico (Etiwanda)
Austin Mack (Folsom)
Jabari Mann (Serra, San Mateo)
Anthony McMillian (Mater Dei Catholic)
Adonte Medley (Highland, Palmdale)
Emmett Mosley (Santa Margarita)
Kamar Mothudi (Campbell Hall)
Ryan Pellum (Millikan)
Robert Petrich (Granite Hills)
Cincere Rhaney (Serra, Gardena)
Marshel Sanders (Clovis West)
Ryon Sayeri (Chaminade)
Julian Sayin (Carlsbad)
Mark Schroller (Mission Viejo)
Maealiuaki Smith (Serra, San Mateo)
Logan Studt (Buchanan)
James Tivao (Madison)
Justin Tauanuu (Huntington Beach)
Trey Tolmaire (Mission Viejo)
Zeus Venegas (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
Makai Viavia (Madison)
Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa (St. John Bosco)
Damarrion White (Granite Hills)
Charles Williams (Marin Catholic)
Dylan Williams (Long Beach Poly)
Marcelles Williams (St. John Bosco)
Peyton Woodyard (St. John Bosco)

Third Team

Manny Adieza (San Pasqual)
Travis Anderson (Mission Viejo)
Jake Arellano (Loyola)
Navi Arretche (Hughson)
Monte Beam (Concord)
Daulton Beard (Santa Ynez)
Michael Beresford (Palos Verdes)
Tayten Beyer (Centennial)
Jalonn Booth (Merced)
Aydin Breland (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
Ratumana Bulavalavu (Army-Navy)
Joshua Cason (Long Beach Poly)
Clarence Chaney (JSerra)
Carmel Crunk (Sierra Canyon)
TJ Cunningham (Los Alamitos)
Frank Cusano (Granite Bay)
Stacy Dobbins (Chaparral)
Bryson Davis (Manteca)
Dermericus Davis (Etiwanda)
Jonah Dawson (Rancho Cucamonga)
Bryson Donelson (Central Valley Christian)
Darius Doyle (Kimball)
Tommy Ducker (Palma)
Tyler Dudden (Norco)
Elijah Eason (Bullard)
Ethan Elder (Casa Roble)
Reid Farrell (Valencia)
Kado Felder (Washington, Easton)
Dylan Fingersh (Capistano Valley)
Marino Fragata (Johnson)
Rueben Gamboa (Sierra Canyon)
Jordan Glaze (Granite Hills)
Devin Green (Sheldon)
Jaden Green (Serra, San Mateo)
Braylon Hall (Central, Fresno)
Chance Harrison (Rio Mesa)
Wade Helton (Centennial, Corona)
Lucas Hardeman (Folsom)
Javonnie Haymon (Edison, Stockton)
Drew Henderson (Berkeley)
Wyatt Hook (Homestead)
Aidan Houston (Cypress)
Shawn Irwin (Hart)
Manasse Itete (Modesto Christian)
Preston Jernagan (St. Francis, LC)
Jamil Kassab (Ramona)
Tytus Khajavi (Clovis West)
J.R. Kirkwood (Culver City)
Marcus Lee (St. John Bosco)
Jordan Lockhart (St. John Bosco)
Matt Long (Vista del Lago, Folsom)
Owen Long (La Serna)
Noah Luginbill (Clovis)
Anthony Luna (Western, Anaheim)
Thomas McCormick (Carlsbad)
Tyree McCowen (Lakewood)
Jerry Misaalefua (Carson)
Cameron Mitchell (Pasadena)
Richie Munoz (Bishop Amat)
Phillip Ocon (St. Francis, LC)
Cole Owens (Casa Roble)
Misa K. Paiou (Bishop Diego)
Jordan Palega (Clayton Valley)
Wayshawn Parker (Elk Grove)
David Perez (Downey)
Caden Pinnick (Del Oro)
Dez Polamalu (M.L. King, Riverside)
Kai Presendorf (Redwood, Visalia)
Jason Robinson (Long Beach Poly)
Jordan Ross (Warren)
Makai Sagiao (Edison, HB)
Jaxton Santiago (Centennial, Bak)
Tanu Sosa (Serra, Gardena)
Malakhi Statler (Frontier)
John Stowers (Overfelt)
Baron Taylor (Inderkum)
Jaylen Thomas (Los Gatos)
Shaun Torgeson (St. Bonaventure)
Drew Underwood (Liberty, Bak)
Ananias Walker (Rancho Cotate)
Peyton Waters (Birmingham)
WR/DB Ananias Walker (Rancho Cotate, Rohnert Park)
Jordan Washington (Jordan, Long Beach)
Tyler Wentworth (Central Catholic)
Justice Williams (Oaks Christian)
Turran Williams (Muir)


All-State FB Patch List For Sophomores

All-State Football Patches will again be handled this year by our friends at BillyTees.com. For more information about Cal-Hi Sports merchandise at BillyTees.com, CLICK HERE.


Congratulations to the following players listed in alphabetical order who have been selected to either first team or second team on the 2022 Cal-Hi Sports All-State Sophomore Football Teams for the fall season. These players and their families can now order an official all-state football patch plus you’ll get a certificate through our partners at BillyTees.com. We also wanted to post the names on a list so we’re not collecting a subscription from a parent who is only interested in seeing if their son has been picked and then finds out the son wasn’t picked.

For ordering info to get 2022 all-state football patch, CLICK HERE.

To get a Gold Club subscription so you can see the complete presentation of the Cal-Hi Sports 2022 All-State Sophomore Football Teams (fall season), CLICK HERE.

Hayden Anderson (Windsor)
Bear Bachmeier (Murrieta Valley)
Phillip Bell (Christian Brothers, Sac)
Garrison Blank (Rocklin)
Cory Butler (Centennial, Corona)
Trestin Castro (Upland)
Karson Cox (Oak Hills, Hesperia)
Jordon Davison (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
Daryus Dixson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
Ben Drewry (Bishop Montgomery)
Dane Dunn (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth)
Kaleb Edwards (Oak Ridge, El Dorado Hills)
Toa Faavae (De La Salle)
Aseli Fangupo (Sacred Heart Prep)
Madden Faraimo (Cathedral Catholic, SD)
Kourdey Glass (Hanford)
Theo Gruele (Folsom)
Joseph Gutierrez (Northview)
Jacob Higgs (Sultana, Hesperia)
Jadyn Hudson (Pittsburg)
Devin Hyde (Menlo-Atherton)
Carter Jackson (Granite Bay)
Isaiah Jackson (Granite Hills)
Jaylen “JJ” Johnson (Enterprise)
C.J. Jones (Sunnyside, Fresno)
Marco Jones (San Ramon Valley)
Christian Knoos (Oaks Christian)
Brody Krupp (Woodcreek)
T.J. Lateef (Lutheran, Orange)
Nick Lavizzo (Pacifica, Oxnard)
Chris Lawson (Foothill, Pleasanton)
Husan Longstreet (Inglewood)
Losipini Tupou (Archbishop Riordan)
McKay Madsen (Clovis North, Fresno)
Kapono Mao (Los Alamitos)
Jared Martin (Central, El Centro)
Eddy Medina (Mira Mesa, San Diego)
Noah Mikhail (Bonita, La Verna)
Jireh Moe (Lutheran, Orange)
Jaylen Moore (Monrovia)
Jesse Myers (Cardinal Newman)
Kyler Peters (Apple Valley)
Weston Port (San Juan Hills)
Tyler Prasuhn (Carlsbad)
Jadyn Robinson (Long Beach Poly)
Shane Rosenthal (Newbury Park)
Darrell Stanley (Granada Hills Charter)
Champ Taulealea (Valley Christian, SJ)
Jett Thomas (La Jolla)
Sione Tohi (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
Jordan Tonga (Leuzinger)
Sione Vailea (McClymonds)
LaMason Waller (Sultana, Hesperia)
Jewelous Walls (Pittsburg)
Luke Webb (JSerra, SJ Capistrano)
Nazarus Williams (Carson)
Tanner Wilson (Sunnyside)
Venilaite Wolfgramm (Inglewood)
Nasir Wyatt (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
Jonathan Ybarra (Sanger)
Jaeon Young (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth)


Salute to Charles White

We take a look back at the high school career of San Fernando High School great Charles White, who died this week at age 64 from liver cancer. White was a legend in the San Fernando Valley, and reached iconic status around the state when he captured the 1979 Heisman Trophy at USC as part of the Trojans’ great tailback tradition. In addition to his exploits on the football field, White was also a state champion hurdler and city and state champ on both the gridiron and track.

Read more…


State Defensive POY: Deven Bryant

St. John Bosco linebacker adds a statewide honor to two big more local ones that he’s already received. He’s also the first-ever State Defensive POY from his school, but the third in a row from the Trinity League.
Read more…


CIF State Football Title Game MVPs

Roderick Robinson is about to score one of the two touchdowns that he scored for Lincoln of San Diego in its win against De La Salle. Photo: Scott Kurtz.


We have picked one for every game we’ve seen since the first one of the modern era in 2006, and have chosen one based on posted stats & media coverage for every other state final. Perhaps the hardest one this year was in the Open Division, but it just had to be a member of the St. John Bosco defense. We also have one chosen for a team that didn’t win.

FOR SATURDAY GAME BREAKDOWNS AT SADDLEBACK COLLEGE, CLICK HERE.

FOR FRIDAY GAME BREAKDOWNS AT SADDLEBACK COLLEGE, CLICK HERE.

FOR SATURDAY GAME BREAKDOWNS OF GAMES IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA, CLICK HERE.

Note: We hope you enjoy this free post on CalHiSports.com. After the preseason, all weekly and final state rankings are available only to our Gold Club members as well as our state stat star of the week honor rolls. To check out getting a Gold Club membership to see all of those rankings plus all of our updated state record lists, totally authentic historical features, recruiting player ratings and more, CLICK HERE.

Open Division
Aaron Williams (St. John Bosco, Bellflower)

It just has to be someone from the Braves’ dominating defense. The transfer from Corona Centennial had the play of the game during 45-0 win over Serra of San Mateo with a 31-yard interception return touchdown in which he dove to the pylon for the final few yards. Williams also was among the team’s tackle leaders with four. He has committed to Louisville.

D1-AA
Roderick Robinson (Lincoln, San Diego)

The Georgia committed RB didn’t do much in the first half, but found room in the second as the Hornets topped perennial power De La Salle of Concord, 33-28. Despite being limited with a hamstring injury, Robinson carried 22 times for 222 yards and four TDs.

D1-A
Kresean Kizzy (Liberty, Bakersfield)

It wasn’t just that Kresean scored on an interception return, kickoff return and reception to lead the Patriots past Pittsburg, 48-20. Each play was long distance and game-changing. The 48-yard interception return started the scoring for Liberty. The 96-yard kickoff return helped to break the game open. The 85-yard TD reception is one of the longest in state championship game history.

D2-AA
Tre Edwards (Mater Dei Catholic, Chula Vista)

He made tackles all over the place as a junior when the Crusaders defeated Central Catholic of Modesto in this same divisional state final. This time, in a 26-18 win against McClymonds of Oakland, Edwards was the leader once again with six solo and four assisted tackles. Several were behind the line of scrimmage. The four-year varsity standout will play next at UCLA.

Isaiah Jackson scored the winning touchdown in overtime for Granite Hills in the D2-A state final. Photo: Mark Tennis.


D2-A
Isaiah Jackson (Granite Hills, El Cajon)

Both Isaiah and Maxwell Turner are promising sophomore RBs for the Eagles, but we’ll give the nod to Isaiah since his 2-yard run in overtime was the game-winner in the 31-24 victory vs San Ramon Valley of Danville. Jackson also ended with 13 carries for 92 yards and he had a 10-yard TD run to start the fourth quarter.

D3-AA
Dillon Gresham (San Jacinto)

Grant of Sacramento won the game, 36-34, with a touchdown that came with 18 seconds left and the Pacers had a myriad of contributors. Gresham capped a great season with a great game. He caught 10 passes for 168 yards and three TDs plus he put Grant into an early hole by scooping up a fumble and running it back for an 84-yard touchdown. Gresham with 2,032 receiving yards and 31 TD catches. He set an Inland Empire record for TD catches and was just three short of the state record.

D3-A
Troy Leigber (Laguna Hills)

His 64-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter held up as the winning score when the Hawks edged Bellarmine of San Jose, 28-27. Leigber has been that type of player all season. He also had a 35-yard touchdown in the first half. In the second half, Leigber helped set up the two TDs that would win the game with long runs.

4-AA
Ryker Peters (Escalon)

At one point during the Cougars’ 28-7 triumph against Northwood of Irvine, Peters carried the ball 16 straight times. He finished with 177 yards on 33 carries with one touchdown. Peters also had four tackles on defense.

4-A
Jimmy Hughes (San Marin, Novato)

He did his best Brock Purdy impression as a back-up QB having to go to the top and led the Mustangs to a 32-8 win over Granada Hills Charter. Stepping in for injured standout Dominic Ingrassia, Jimmy passed for 143 yards and three touchdowns and he had 77 yards rushing, including a 23-yard run that picked up a first down on fourth-and-13.

D5-AA
David Burns (Hughson)

In a slug-it-out in-the-mud 9-6 victory against Muir of Pasadena, Burns, a junior linebacker who was recently a NorCal Defensive Player of the Week, led the Huskies with 12 tackles. He also came up with two interceptions.

D5-A
Grant Foster (Orland)

The leader of the Trojans, who ended 15-0 after a 20-7 victory over Shafter, rushed for 159 yards and on 29 carries and scored all three touchdowns. Foster ran for two of his scores with the other one coming on a interception return.

D6-AA
Life Pollard (Classical Academy, Escondido)

The only score of the game in a 7-0 win by the Caimans over Santa Teresa of San Jose came on a short plunge by their multi-purpose star. Pollard also rushed for 140 yards in the wet, slippery conditions.

D6-A
Trey Cooks (Atascadero)

The 6-1, 215-pound power back was well-suited for mud and muck when the Greyhounds blanked San Gabriel 41-0 to win their first CIF state title. Cooks scored the team’s first three TDs on runs of 40, 53 and 23 yards.

D7-AA
Larry McDonald (Pinole Valley, Pinole)

Teammate Ellis Shamsid-Deen was stellar as well with two TD catches and one TD run, but in the 34-21 victory last week over Mendota, it has to be McDonald. He rushed for 262 yards on 23 carries with one TD and he caught a 39-yard pass. Note: Game played on Saturday, Dec. 3.

D7-A
Jamelle Newman (Lincoln, San Francisco)

Another one with a strong teammate option is Newman. While teammate Ricky Underwood scored three times and had 10 carries for 153 yards in Lincoln’s 54-6 rout of L.A. Crenshaw, Newman had more yards (173) on less carries (8) and scored twice.


Recaps: CIF Saturday Finals (NorCal)

Jamelle Newman breaks loose and heads toward the end zone for Lincoln of San Francisco during team’s win at Kezar Stadium on Saturday over Crenshaw. Photo: Willie Eashman.


For all of the games played on a rainy, often muddy night in Northern California on Saturday, two of the teams traveling from SoCal were able to pull off wins — Laguna Hills in D3-A and Classical Academy of Escondido in D-6AA. None of the SoCal teams posted wins in these games last season. The poor weather didn’t prevent Grant of Sacramento and San Jacinto from playing a truly memorable shootout in D3-AA. Escalon and Hughson also won titles for a Sac-Joaquin Section sweep.

FOR SATURDAY GAMES AT SADDLEBACK COLLEGE, CLICK HERE.

Note: We hope you enjoy this free post on CalHiSports.com. After the preseason, all weekly and final state rankings are available only to our Gold Club members as well as our state stat star of the week honor rolls. To check out getting a Gold Club membership to see all of those rankings plus all of our updated state record lists, totally authentic historical features, recruiting player ratings and more, CLICK HERE.

DIVISION 3–AA
San Jacinto at Grant (Sacramento)

In a game that mirrored the crazy ending of Sacramento State vs Incarnate Word from earlier this weekend, Grant’s Kyle Ryan scored in the final 18 seconds to push the Pacers (12-2) to a 36-34 victory over San Jacinto. This is Grant’s first state title since 2008 vs Long Beach Poly. The two programs exploded for 34 combined fourth quarter points. The Pacers bounced back from an 0-9 season last season (counting forfeits) and became the highest rated North representative to win a state title this year. There were issues with the scoreboard for the final three minutes of the contest, which made the ending even more chaotic. Grant stormed back from a 20-8 deficit early in the third quarter. San Jacinto ended its season at 13-3.

DIVISION 3–A
Laguna Hills vs. Bellarmine (San Jose)

When Bellarmine quarterback Nate Escalada connected with Ben Pfaff on a 45-yard touchdown pass across the middle of the field to put the Bells (8-7) up 27-7 over Laguna Hills during the second quarter, it appeared that the Bells were en route to their first football state title. The visitors from Laguna Hills (15-1) had other plans, however, on Saturday evening at San Jose City College, as the Hawks scored 21 unanswered points for the stunning 28-27 victory over the Bells. The comeback started off with a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Kaden Austin on the first drive out of the halftime break. The Hawks took the lead for good with 6:51 remaining in the game, as Troy Leigber scored on a 62-yard burst on fourth and two. Laguna Hills instead was the school celebrating its first state title.

Head coach Andrew Beam of Escalon is surrounded by family and friends after the Cougars won 2022 D4-AA state title. Photo: FrontRowPreps.com.

DIVISION 4–AA
Northwood (Irvine) at Escalon

On a flooded field, Escalon pulled away for its third state title, as the Cougars (12-3) notched a 28-7 victory over Northwood (14-2) on Saturday evening. It was tied 7-7 at the halftime break, but Escalon’s ground game was key in the second half. Logan Anderson had the game winning score early in the second half, as Anderson took a 49-yard touchdown back to put the Cougars up 14-7. Escalon’s star running back added a 6-yard touchdown burst with 3:31 remaining to give the hosts some breathing room. The confirmed dagger for Northwood was an Owen Nash 33-yard interception return for a touchdown. This is the second state title for Escalon in the past three seasons (four years counting COVID) and it puts the program on the all-time state list with three overall.

DIVISION 4–A
Granada Hills at San Marin (Novato)

For the second straight season, the Mustangs (13-2) of San Marin of Marin County are state champions, as the small school north of the Golden Gate Bridge corralled the larger Granada Hills Charter (Granada Hills) 32-8 in dominating fashion Saturday evening in Novato. Granada Hills Charter came into the game with one of the top running backs in the state in Utah bound Dijon Stanley and an offense that had not completed a pass all season according to team stats. San Marin dared the Highlanders to beat them by the air, as the Mustangs used an 11-man box of six linemen and five linebackers. The hosts forced three fumbles in the first quarter and quickly took an 18-0 advantage over the Highlanders and the rout was on. Helping lead the Mustangs to the state title was second string quarterback Jimmy Hughes, as the junior stepped in for injured junior quarterback Dominic Ingrassia. San Marin held Stanley to his lowest yardage game of the season, as the senior only had 86 yards. And yes, Granada Hills (12-3) did have a completed pass.

DIVISION 5–AA
Muir (Pasadena) at Hughson

It seems that whenever a Trans Valley League side makes it to a state title, the small school from the southern part of the Sac-Joaquin Section has a good chance of taking home a title. This was the case again this season, as Hughson held on for a 9-6 victory over Muir and the Huskies (13-2) joined Escalon as the second TVL team to pull off a state title this year. It is the first state title for Hughson. In addition to Escalon, Ripon, Hilmar and Modesto Christian of the TVL have won state crowns. Hughson scored the only touchdown it would need just a couple minutes in the contest, as the hosts recovered a fumble on the mud soaked field and Liam Bridgford punched in a five-yard touchdown run for a score. The Huskies would add two more points at the end of the first quarter, as a bad Muir snap forced the Mustangs to kick the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety. Muir (9-7) added its only score just before the end of the third quarter, as Mahki Clark scored on a keeper.

DIVISION 5–A
Shafter at Orland

There is only one undefeated state champion this season and it’s not St. John Bosco (Bellflower), as Orland outlasted Shafter of the Central Section to secure a 20-7 victory and walk away with a 15-0 perfect season. Shafter head coach has some choice words for the CIF after the game about the field quality, as the field up in the Northern Section did resemble store bought ground beef. With both sides reduced to run only options, the ground focused Trojans were right at home in the mud. Grant Foster did the bulk of the damage for the hosts, as the senior running back had 29 carries for 159 yards and scored two touchdowns for the Trojans. Foster had all three touchdowns for the Trojans, as the two-way star also had a 40-yard pick-six in the second half. The Generals capped an 11-5 season.

DIVISION 6–AA
Classical Academy (Escondido) at Santa Teresa (San Jose)

The Caimans (10-4) from the City of Escondido are one of the few small schools from the South to pick up a state title this season, as Classical Academy held on for a 7-0 victory over hosting Santa Teresa (San Jose) on Saturday evening. A Life Pollard rushing touchdown in the first quarter was all the scoring needed for the Caimans, as the San Diego Section side held the Saints (9-6) scoreless on their home field. Classical Academy used a double tight end double blocking formation to pull off the lone touchdown of the game. The victory by the Caimans also secured a perfect 4-0 weekend for the San Diego Section. Granite Hills of El Cajon had won earlier in the day at Saddleback College. On Friday down south, Mater Dei Catholic and Lincoln (San Diego) earned crowns.

DIVISION 6–A
San Gabriel at Atascadero

Other than the CIF Open Division, there was no bigger shutout this weekend than Atascadero’s 41-0 blasting of San Gabriel on a mud soaked field on Saturday evening. Maybe it was fate, as Atascadero (11-4) loosely translated from Spanish means a muddy place. Trey Cooks had the first four touchdowns of the game for the Greyhounds, as the senior would finish with five total scores in his final high school game. This is the first state title for Atascadero after the Greyhounds secured their first section title since 1996. San Gabriel finished its season at 12-4.

DIVISION 7–A
Crenshaw (LA) vs. Lincoln (San Francisco)

Lincoln was right at home at historic Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, as the Mustangs used eight rushing touchdowns to breeze past Crenshaw 54-6 in the fifth largest margin of victory in a CIF State Bowl game. This is the third state title in Lincoln school history and the Mustangs have secured victories in each state title appearance. Ricky Underwood had three of the first four touchdowns for Lincoln (11-3) in the blowout, as the running back had the team high on the day. Crenshaw (7-8) struggled with the wet conditions on the grass field inside Kezar Stadium.

Note: Pinole Valley of Pinole won its first CIF state title last weekend in D7-AA with a 35-21 victory last Friday at Mendota. In that bracket, the two teams went straight to a final with no regional ahead of time. Lincoln of San Francisco also had a bye in D7-A. The one CIF section champion that opted out of the bowl games was Fall River of McArthur (12-0), which would have been no higher than D7-AA.

Daniel Poulter is a free-lance writer based in Windsor, Calif. He also currently does work for the Napa Valley Register. Follow him @DanielJPoulter.

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


Salute to Peter Ackermann

Pete Ackermann, the longtime head coach at Oaks Christian of Westlake Village, hoists 2021 SoCal D1 title trophy after Lions topped Roosevelt of Eastvale last June. Photo: Mark Tennis.


Longtime softball coach and athletics coordinator at Oaks Christian of Westlake Village died last Saturday from a heart condition at age 77. Last June’s CIF SoCal D1 championship game that the Lions won in dramatic fashion, 6-5, over Roosevelt of Eastvale unfortunately wound up as Pete’s last game. His final career record of 651-148-1 is currently No. 15 in state history, but his legacy as his school of course will be much more known for what he did working with all of the staff and student-athletes there.

After the 2021 Oaks Christian High softball team ended its season with a 6-5 win over Roosevelt of Eastvale for the CIF Southern California D1 regional championship, head coach Pete Ackermann was looking forward to the 2022 season. He talked about some of the top players who would be returning, including three of the leading hitters — Anahi Arreola, Rylee McCoy and Lily Knox.

Sadly, Ackermann himself won’t be back. He had gone to the hospital earlier last week for surgery on his heart. According to assistant coach Steve Sakakini (who helps us with info from Oaks Christian on all of its teams), Ackermann had come through the surgery, but a complication arose two days later. He passed away early last Saturday morning. He was 77 years old.

“Pete was a serious individual and a ‘deep well’ that you needed to explore slowly over time in order to fully appreciate him,” said OCS Head of School Rob Black. “If you only crossed Pete’s path briefly, or had short conversations, you would miss out on who he really was. Without a doubt, above all else, Pete loved the Lord, his school, his friends and colleagues, and the softball student-athlete young women he coached and mentored at Oaks Christian. It is an incredible privilege and joy to have been able to count Pete as a dear and personal friend.”

Ackermann’s 2021 team ended the season 34-1 with its only loss to Los Alamitos in the CIF Southern Section D1 semifinals. At the time of the loss, the Lions were No. 1 in the state and in contention for the final No. 1 ranking in the nation (ExtraInningSoftball.com). Since it hardly ever happens that a team stays No. 1 after a loss, St. Francis of Mountain View was elevated the next week to No. 1 in the state and then didn’t lose for the rest of the season. That’s why Oaks Christian was No. 2 in the final state rankings, but regardless will go down as Ackermann’s best team.

For his career, Ackermann finished with a 651-148-1 record, which is currently 15th best in state history. He began his career in 1994 at Newbury Park and went to Oaks Christian when the school started in 2000. Another highlight of his career was a 46-game win streak from 2003 to 2004 that is still the CIF Southern Section record (tied for 6th on the state list). It also was during that time in 2004 when Ackermann was named State Coach of the Year.

Ackermann got the most satisfaction, however, when he’d visit with former players and students.

“Wins and losses are not as important as establishing relationships with students,” Ackermann was quoted as saying in the release by the school about his death. “As coaches, we need to open up about ourselves and show how much we care about the young men and women we coach. Sometimes they don’t get it instantly, but it opens doors for communication down the road. I get such pleasure staying in touch with our alumni, and when they come back to visit and I get to see their life’s success and their new families. That’s the real win.”

Pete was always supportive of the work we do at Cal-Hi Sports and he often took time to send in nominations of his players for various honors. We will miss our interactions with him and we send our deepest condolences to the Oaks Christian athletic community.


NorCal Tip-Off Classic Recaps

Here’s the results and recap from the 15th Annual NorCal Tip-Off Classic at Dublin. Preseason NorCal No. 1 and state No. 3 Modesto Christian fell for the second consecutive night in a loss to No. 5 Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks (which also had fallen in its first game last week).
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