Marin Catholic senior quarterback Michael Ingrassia (shown here in a win over San Marin this season, will lead the Wildcats into the CIF state 4-AA championship this Saturday afternoon
Harold Abend/Prep2Prep

Lower division winners to represent NCS in CIF State Bowl Games

December 6, 2021

Of the seven CIF North Coast Section teams that played in a CIF Northern Regional Bowl Game, only three will move on to vie for a state championship, but all three, Marin Catholic, San Marin and Salesian are in lower divisions.

The other four teams from divisions 3-A and up went down to defeat.

After years of being considered one of the weaker leagues in the NCS, and rightfully so at times when the only team to make any noise was Marin Catholic, the Marin County Athletic League is now the flag bearer for the section after placing two teams in state championship contests.

Marin Catholic will face Central Valley Christian-Visalia from the CIF Central Section on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Kentfield for the 4-AA title. The Wildcats will be looking for a first state championship after the 2012 team led by current Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff lost 38-35 to Madison-San Diego.

San Marin will host Independence-Bakersfield from the Central Section on Saturday at 6 p.m. for the 5-AA championship.

Salesian, of the Tri-County – Rock League, will welcome Arlington-Riverside to Richmond on Saturday in a 1 p.m. showdown for the 6-A crown.

Marin Catholic (13-1) was sailing along in its game with Escalon. The hosts had a 21-0 lead after senior quarterback Michael Ingrassia made some key plays, including a 51-yard run to set up promising sophomore running back Charles Williams for his third touchdown run of the game with around eight minutes left in the third quarter. That would be the final tally for Marin Catholic, and they hung on to win 21-14, but it was a nail-biter

Many felt Marin Catholic was too low or Escalon was too high, and it was looking that way when the Wildcats led by three touchdowns. However, Escalon has been there before. In fact the Cougars are 2-0 in state bowl games and Marin Catholic has an 0-1 record.

Escalon (12-2) took advantage of a short punt with a minute left in the third quarter to score and cut the lead to 21-7.

A fourth down stop led to a touchdown catch in the end zone by EJ Lewis on a tipped pass with 5:47 left in the game . The Cougars never would have even had a chance for that score had they not gone 38 yards on a hook-and-ladder play on a fourth-and-19 situation.

Escalon got another fourth down stop at the Marin Catholic 46 and they were driving towards a game-tying or possible game-winning score, but senior Charlie Allen stepped in front of a would be receiver for an interception with less than a minute remaining to clinch the win.

Besides the offense of Ingrassia and Williams the defense of Marin Catholic was stout. They only gave up 95 yards rushing on 36 attempts and that’s a mere 2.6 yards per carry. Ingrassia did throw his first two interceptions of the season but the Wildcats picked off three Cougars’ passes.

Against Central Valley Christian (11-4) the Wildcats will be favored against a Cavaliers team that won the SoCal 4-AA title with a 21-9 victory over Serrano on the road in Phelan. Central Valley Christian runs and passes the ball almost equally. They have 2,449 yards passing on 368 attempts, and 1,752 yards on 375 carries.

San Marin (13-1) took the long 250-mile round trip ride to River Valley High in Yuba City but it was well worth it after the Mustangs came back with a resounding 35-7 victory over Sutter in the NorCal 5-AA championship.

Not unexpectedly Justin Guin did it again just as he’s done all season. The senior running back and free safety accounted for four scores. He carried all 26 times San Marin ran the ball and finished with 168 rushing and two touchdowns. Guin put the icing on the cake with a 60-yard pick six midway through the fourth quarter to close out the scoring.

Senior wide receiver and defensive back Andrew Abell got into the act as well. He had two receiving TDs and two interceptions on defense. Senior quarterback Joey Cooke passed for 121 yards and two TDs, both to Abell.

The Mustangs defense shut down the run and pass for the second-straight week after holding the Sutter running game to under 100 yards and the passing game to under 50 yards. They didn’t allow the Huskies to get a first down until their final drive of the first half when Sutter got a good chunk of its rushing yards.

Between the Del Norte game and the Sutter win the San Marin defense has given up under 200 yards rushing and 45 yards passing in the combined victories.

“Guin has been unbelievable all season but our defense has been outstanding the last two games,” said San Marin co-head coach Dominic DiMare said. “They’ve only given up seven points in eight quarters.

Now Guin and his mates meet visiting Independence. The Falcons were only the No. 6 seed in the Central Section Division IV playoffs, but ran the table to beat Mendota, 28-31 for the championship. Then they travelled to Los Angeles City Section Division I champion Venice and came away with the SoCal 5-AA title after a 19-14 victory.

As for Guin, the 168 yards rushing pushed him to the top of the list for reported rushing yardage leaders in Northern California and No. 3 in the state with 2,240 yards and 34 touchdowns. With neither of the two running backs ahead of him still in action, All Guin needs in the state title game to move into the No. 2 spot is 72 yards, and to finish the season leading the state he’ll have to go for 253 yards, and he’s already rushed for over 250 yards twice this season.

Salesian (10-2) got a home game after a 28-26 NCS D7 title-game victory over Justin-Siena, and the Pride made the most of it with a 36-28 victory over a scrappy Central Coast Section D5 champion Aragon, in a game they led 30-28 at the half.

Both defenses knuckled down in the second half with Salesian getting the lone score when head coach Chad Nightingale decided to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the five and senior quarterback Nick Fontanilla connected with sophomore wide receiver Marco Turqueza for a touchdown.

Even so, Aragon (9-5) had a chance to tie with a TD and 2-point conversion but with under a minute to play senior Devin Quinn came up with the Pride’s second interception of the day to seal the victory.

Now the Pride will host a 7-8 Arlington. The won the CIF Southern Section Division 13 championship with a 23-0 blanking of Montclair. That earned the Lions a home game with El Camino of the LA City Section and Arlington punched its ticket to Richmond with a 24-14 victory.

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