The seeding system took a hit in Division 2 but other than that the teams featured that were supposed to win did, and as such they advance to play for an NCS title and a chance to join De La Salle in earning a CIF state playoff berth.
De La Salle 35, Pittsburg 14
As the saying goes “and the beat goes on” so does De La Salle after the top-seeded Spartans won their 29th consecutive NCS title and beat Pittsburg for the 32nd straight time in the Open Division title game.
De La Salle only led 21-14 at halftime but as has been the case many times over the past four decades of dominance the Spartans turned it on defensively in the second half to win comfortably.
Never short on heroes this past week it was Charles Greer. The senior running back had a 59-yard TD on a screen pass that gave the Spartans a 21-7 lead can he closed out the scoring with a 36-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. Greer finished with 123 yards rushing and 59 yards receiving.
De La Salle (10-2) now has a bye next week and will await the outcome of the Central Coast Section Open Division and Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title games to see where they are placed in the CIF state playoffs.
If Serra were to beat the St. Francis team that ended the De La Salle winning streak, and the Folsom team De La Salle defeated were to upset a Rocklin team that already beat them 40-7 in their Sierra Foothill League meeting, there is a chance the Spartans would be chosen over Serra to advance directly to the CIF Open Division Bowl Game. The CIF Central Section champion is also in the mix but top-seeded Buchanan-Clovis lost on Friday night in the Division I semifinals so that eliminated their chance to land the Open slot.
Under the new NCS format that allows the larger schools a chance to play for a CIF Northern Regional Bowl Game berth by returning the Open Division runner-up to face the Division 1 semifinal winner, Second-seeded Pittsburg (8-2) now hosts No. 3 seed Clayton Valley for the D1 title and the opportunity to play for a Bowl Game championship.
Clayton Valley 24, California 21
The Division 1 semifinal match-up was almost as close as the 19-18 loss to California on the road in October but this time host Clayton Valley (9-3) hung on and now the third-seeded Ugly Eagles advance to the D1 championship game against No. 2 seed Pittsburg.
In the first meeting California (8-4) scored in the final seconds to pull out the win. This time the Grizzles scored and got a 2-point conversion with just under two minutes to play, but Rahsaan Woodland recovered the onside kick and the Uglies were able to run out the clock in a game in which they never trailed.
When Clayton Valley and host Pittsburg tangle on Friday for the D1 title, it will be the first time since 2018 these two teams from the top two large school leagues in the NCS, the Pirates from the BVAL and the Ugly Eagles from the EBAL – Mountain Division, have met. In the 2018 season opener the Uglies went into Pittsburg and after five straight losses to the Pirates they came away with a 38-31 double overtime victory.
Campolindo 17, San Ramon Valley 14
The biggest upset of the weekend came in Danville where fourth-seeded Campolindo knocked off the top-seeded Wolves in the Division 2 semifinals.
Campolindo (9-3) came out determined. After getting the opening kickoff they went on a 15-play, 79-yard touchdown drive and from there the hosts were never able to wrest away the momentum from the Cougars.
San Ramon Valley (8-4) scored to tie it at 7-7 late in the first quarter, but by the time they scored again with under three minutes left, Campolindo had a 10-point lead.
Campolindo will not play Foothill on Saturday in Pleasanton for the Division 2 championship.
Foothill 35, Rancho Cotate 7
The second major upset was in Rohnert Park where Division 2 third-seeded Foothill (10-2) dominated both sides on the line of scrimmage from start to finish.
The Falcons defense was so dominant that Rancho Cotate didn’t register its initial first down until there was 37.8 seconds left in the first half and they faced a 14-0 deficit.
By the time the Cougars scored with 2:39 left to play, it was 28-0.
Foothill, like they did all night, drove right down the field and scored the game’s final touchdown when Samear Lattier scored on a 2-yard run. That final carry gave the sophomore running back 100 yards rushing to go with the one score.
Foothill finished with two 100-yard rushers as sophomore running back Jackson Chandler led the way with 143 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Kenny Olson rushed for 48 yards and a TD, plus he had 67 yards receiving. The other Foothill TD came on a 36-yard pass from senior quarterback Nick Walsh to senior Trevor Barros.
Antonini, xxxxx, had a rare trifecta after getting a touchdown rushing, passing and receiving. He also had five tackles on defense.
Foothill will now host Campolindo in the Division 2 title game this coming Saturday night.
St. Vincent de Paul 25, Clear Lake 20
It was looking like there was going to be an upset in the Division 7 semifinals when fourth-seeded Clear Lake took a 20-7 lead over the top seed with around seven minutes left in the third quarter. Not so fast because from there the Mustangs senior star Dante Antonini came to life and basically took over together with some creative play calling by St. Vincent de Paul head coach Trent Herzog.
First, Herzog called a double pass. Junior quarterback Jaret Bosarge flipped it to senior Jake DeCarli and for the second time this season in two tries he threw a TD pass that was hauled in by Antonini to make it 20-13 after the PAT missed. Herzog called the same play again only this time Bosarge tossed it backwards to Antonini and he found DeCarli for a touchdown, but Clear Lake stopped the 2-point conversion to take a 20-19 lead into the fourth quarter.
The two teams went back and forth but Antonini got loose one more time and with 4:20 left he ran it in from the Wildcat formation for a 26-yard touchdown and the game’s final points since the 2-point conversion failed again.
After a short kickoff the visiting Cardinals (7-4) had excellent field position at the 43 of the Mustangs, but on the first play St. Vincent de Paul appeared to seal the contest when Bosarge came up with an interception. Even so, it still took a 19-run on third-and-16 by junior standout running back Kai Hall before Bosarge was able to take a couple of knees to run out the clock.
St. Vincent de Paul will now play for the D7 title on Saturday at Petaluma High against No. 2 seed St. Helena, a 45-13 winner over Cloverdale. The two teams met in week three in St. Helena with the Mustangs escaping with a 14-13 victory.