The Bay Area teams that played at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo on Friday and Saturday got roughed up in what has been a down year for just about everyone except Serra, and even the top team in Northern California was no match in its second straight lopsided loss in a state championship game.
The Bay Area teams that played at home in the lower divisions fared a little better, but they still only won two of the four titles contested. Those two winning teams are featured in the first part of this two-part recap.
San Marin 32, Granada Hills Charter 8
Defending state CIF Division 5-AA champion and host San Marin (13-2) looked poised to be upset in this year’s 4-A game when news broke midweek that junior star quarterback Dominic Ingrassia was out with a broken humerus. But neither his backup Jimmy Hughes nor Mustangs head coach Dominic DiMare would buy into it.
Red-headed quarterbacks are a rarity but San Marin has two in Ingrassia and Hughes. Hughes, a 6-3, 195-junior picked up right where Ingrassia left off as if the starter had channeled his fellow redhead.
Not only did Hughes answer the bell and make sure San Marin was not upset, he helped orchestrate a lopsided victory that was never in doubt in his very first start this season.
In fact, Hughes only played one game at quarterback on last season’s championship team but according to DiMare he’s been biding his time and working hard to get better if and when he got an opportunity. Hughes probably didn’t think this would be the situation where he would get his first start, but despite the enormity of the game, he was as poised as a seasoned veteran.
“Jimmy Hughes. What a game. I said in your preview that Jimmy was ready, and when we called his name he was, and on the biggest stage,” DiMare said. “He’s been waiting for this opportunity from day one.”
His numbers were not spectacular but more than adequate and the San Marin defense manhandled a Granite Hills running attack that was the backbone of an offense this season that hadn’t completed any of its seven passes coming into the game.
Hughes was 7-of-11 passing for 143 yards with three of the completions going for touchdowns. Hughes also ran for 77 yards including a 23-yard run on fourth-and-13.
Granada Hills Charter (12-3) came into the game averaging 423 yards a game rushing. The Highlanders also boasted the state’s leading rusher, Utah-bound senior Dijon Stanley, a speedy running back that plays a wildcat position out of a Wing-T formation, and who came into the game with 2,670 yards rushing and 32 touchdowns.
Stanley scored the lone Granada Hills touchdown, and then ran it in for a two-point conversion but San Marin pretty much stuffed him and the rest of the Highlanders running game. Granada Hills could only muster 125 yards rushing with Stanley accounting for 86 of those yards. The team total as well as Stanley’s total were both season lows, although Stanley still finishes as the state’s rushing leader with 2,756 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Granada Hills did attempt six passes, mostly because it had to, and they picked up their first two completions of the season. But Stanley threw an interception to go with a fumble for two Highlanders’ turnovers, and the 41 yards passing coupled with the running accounted for a mere 166 yards of total offense.
When asked it if he really felt his Mustangs would be able to shut down the Granada Hills running game by stacking the box with six linemen and five linebackers, DiMare did not hesitate with his answer.
“Yes. I felt we could stop them,” DiMare remarked. “Our game plan was absolutely perfect. No one runs against San Marin.”
DiMare wasn’t just bragging. Even in the two games they lost, they only gave up 130 yards to Acalanes on the ground and a mere 24 against Marin Catholic.
San Marin got the opening kickoff and Hughes went right to work on the Mustangs opening drive when he connected with Wesley Timmel on a screen pass and the sophomore wide receiver took it 53 yards to the house for a 6-0 lead the Mustangs would never relinquish.
After holding Granada Hills to minus-six yards on its opening drive, San Marin got the ball back and went right to work. Hughes had a six-yard run and on the next play sophomore running back Jonah Lozano broke five tackles and raced 72 yards to paydirt to make it 12-0 Mustangs. Lozano ended up with a team-high 109 yards rushing
San Marin then tried a pooch kickoff and recovered at the 26 of Granada Hills. Hughes had a 20-yard run and on the next play senior Charlie Singleton scored and it was 18-0 with five minutes to go in the first quarter.
At that point about the only thing Granada Hills had done is stop San Marin on three two-point conversion attempts.
The Mustangs had an opportunity to pad the lead but they fumbled in the red zone and the first quarter ended with them holding an 18-0 lead.
Hughes did throw an interception in the second quarter and when Granada Hills got the ball Stanley completed his first pass of the season, an 11-yarder on third-and-11 to DJ Richmond.
That reception kept the Highlanders drive going and Stanley finally cashed in on a two-yard plunge on fourth-and-goal with 7:30 left in the half. That made it 18-8 but unfortunately for the Highlanders and their faithful who braved wind and rain at the beginning of the game, it would be the one and only tally of the game for Granada Hills.
San Marin answered right back when Hughes found senior wide receiver Frankie Quinci in the end zone for an 18-yard TD pass with 1:50 left in the half. That made it 25-8 heading into halftime.
Granada Hills fared no better in the second half and San Marin played ball control until midway through the third quarter the running redhead Hughes ran for a first down on third-and-10 and that led to a 25-yard TD pass from Hughes to Quinci hooked up on 25-yard TD reception that closed out the scoring.
“This season was about this team,” DiMare said. “We came together down the stretch and finished strong.”
San Marin loses two senior wide receivers, Quinci and Ben Langford, but Timmel looks like a blossoming star, the entire backfield returns, only one offensive lineman graduates, and only three players on defense won’t return next season.
“Look out for San Marin in 2023,” DiMare said in conclusion. “We belong with the big guys and we plan on scheduling tough in the non-league portion of the season to prove it.”
Lincoln-San Francisco 54, Crenshaw 6
Playing at historic Kezar Stadium in San Francisco where Lincoln won the CIF San Francisco Section title two weeks ago in a 44-7 drubbing of Balboa, the Mustangs romped once again on the natural grass turf in a running clock victory over the Los Angeles City Section D3 and Southern Regional 7-A champions.
“We got better every week and came together at the right time,” said Lincoln head coach Phil Ferrigno. “Especially the last two games where we scored almost a hundred points and only gave up thirteen.”
Lincoln (10-3) did all is damage on the ground with eight rushing TDs in a game that produced the fifth largest margin of victory in state CIF Bowl Game history in any division. It also culminated a nine-game winning streak for the Mustangs who started 1-3 this season
Senior running back Ricky Underwood rushed for a season-high 153 yards and three TDs, all in the first half to help Lincoln build a 27-0 lead after two quarters. Junior running back Jamelle Newman had his season high of 173 yards rushing and two TDs, including a 57-yard run. Senior quarterback Michael Simmons also rushed for two TDs, including a 49-yard keeper up the gut that totally fooled Crenshaw. Junior fullback Diego Cristerna had the eighth Mustangs rushing touchdown. As a team Lincoln rushed for 435 yards to go with the eight scores.
Lincoln now adds this year’s 7-A title after winning back-to-back state championships in 2018 and 2019. In 2018 they beat Orange Glen in the 6-A game and in 2019 they defeated Gardena in the 7-AA championship.
Crenshaw (7-8) saw a seven-game winning streak come to an end in its second-lowest point total output of the season.
“This year’s team was a special group,” Ferrigno remarked. “The seniors did their job of leading and helped us develop our younger kids we brought up.”
Ferrigno wanted to give a shout out to his seniors by name, and the first one he mentioned was Underwood and how happy he was for him. Underwood played in the season-opening 43-14 victory over Jefferson-Daly City and had 99 yard rushing and three TDs, but was injured and missed the next seven games. Even so, in the six games he played in Underwood still rushed for 547 yards and 10 TDs, including a season-high 153 yards against Crenshaw.
Ferrigno called senior linebacker Vincent Huang a “human tackling machine.” Huang had a team-high 11 tackles against Crenshaw and finished the season with 92 tackles including 62 solo tackles and three sacks. Simmons only threw 15 passes all season, but he ran the offense effectively and rushed for 361 yards and seven touchdowns.
The good news for the Lincoln faithful is they return a ton of talent led by Newman who rushed for 1,161 yards and 15 TDs on the season. Cristerna 309 yards rushing and six TDs also returns and the Mustangs return all but one lineman. A fresh face to look for is the new Lincoln quarterback Latu Manumua. The 6-1, 190-pound freshman can both run and pass the ball, and that could mean an almost exclusively running Lincoln may throw the ball more.