Zach Homan, seen taking a handoff from quarterback Jayson Colter against Vintage, has Cardinal Newman knocking on the door of the Bay Area top 10
Harold Abend/Prep2Prep

Bay Area Roundup and Rankings: De La Salle rebounds

September 12, 2023

The Bay Area rankings don’t exactly mirror some of the local rankings after the top three teams, but this early in the season and with so many intersectional games, we don’t necessarily look at a team’s record but rather who they have played and how well they have done even in losing to highly ranked teams.

(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. (1) Serra 3-0

The game was close early on as it should be between two very good teams, particularly when the underdog is at home and is perennial CIF Sac-Joaquin power like Central Catholic-Modesto. Serra opened the scoring in the first minute of the game on game on a TD run by Jaden Green, but after Central Catholic got an equalizer the score was 7-7 until shortly before the half when Thomas Gooch nailed a 45-yard field goal to give the Padres a 10-7 lead at the break.

From there, however, Serra showed why it's No. 4 in the Cal-Hi Sports rankings by continuing to showcase a stingy defense and coupling it with some explosiveness on offense with 28 unanswered points to post a convincing 38-10 victory over the state-ranked Raiders. Maealiuaki Smith threw two second half TDs, and Cole Harrison caught two scoring passes, one from Smith and one from Nano Latu on a halfback option. Smith’s other TD pass went to Braden Agosta and then a TD run by Brooks Trimmer was the game’s final tally.

It should be noted that Serra had outscored its last two opponents - De La Salle and Central Catholic - 48-0 after halftime, and has only given up 21 points total in three games against state-ranked teams. The Padres now earn a well-deserved rest with a bye this week before opening West Catholic Athletic League action in two weeks at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

2. (2) De La Salle 1-2

The fact that De La Salle lost its first two games has given rise to the chatter that the Spartans are in a demise mode, but the losses came against some of the top teams not only in California but the nation. The truth is Sparta isn’t currently marching past and stomping on all its opponents like in years past. They are not the top team in Northern California, and after a demoralizing 28-0 loss to Serra two weeks ago they could have folded against a host St. Francis team that tasted victory against them two years ago by three points in Mountain View.

The bottom line is despite the game being close for three quarters, the Spartans didn’t fold and for now maintained their No. 2 spot in the Bay Area after a 35-17 victory. With the win De La Salle avoided its first 0-3 start in 48 years. The score was 21-17 after a St. Francis field goal with 8:49 remaining but that was all the Spartans defense would allow. On the ensuing drive junior quarterback Toa Faavae gave De La Salle its first double-digit lead of the season when he ran a 12-yard bootleg around left end for a touchdown. It was the third rushing TD of the game for Faavae.

Junior Dominic Kelley had 25 carries for 135 yards and one TD rushing, and fellow junior running back Derrick Blanche had the other rushing TD and finished with 54 yards on six carries. Prior to the season, head coach Justin Alumbaugh had indicated the Spartans might be throwing more but after an 0-2 start they relied on the grinding ground game against St. Francis as Faavae only attempted four passes, completing two for 25 yards. It doesn’t get any easier for the Spartans as they try avenge last year's loss against St. Mary's Friday at home. After that is a trip to Folsom, a team they defeated in the CIF Northern Regional Division 1-AA Bowl Game last season.

3. (3) Pittsburg 3-0

The Pirates improved to 3-0 under first-year head coach Charlie Ramirez. But unlike the 41-21 win at Granite Bay, where the offense exploded midway through the third quarter, they needed to grind out a second win over a perennial CIF Sac-Joaquin section power, edging visiting Monterey Trail 10-7. Monterey Trail fell to 0-3 after opening the season with losses to Folsom and St. Francis to open the season.

Noah Quesada was the hero of the game. His 34-yard TD reception from junior quarterback Marley Alcantara gave Pittsburg a 7-0 first-quarter lead. Monterey Trail got an equalizer in the second quarter and the score remained tied until senior kicker Jesus Lua Amaya hit a short field goal with five minutes left to take the lead. Monterey Trail got two more possessions but the Pirates defense got the ball on downs on the first one, and Quesada came up with an interception in the game’s final minute to seal things in the home opener. Next up is California-San Ramon, a team that is 2-1 after an impressive 42-21 victory over a visiting Escalon team that was coming off a 42-39 win at Windsor.

4. (4) San Ramon Valley 3-0

Things could not be starting out better for the defending state CIF Northern Regional Division 2-A Bowl Game champion Wolves. For the third straight week San Ramon Valley went on the road against a solid opponent, and for the third consecutive time they won and scored over 40 points in the process with a decisive 45-7 rout of an Elk Grove team that was coming off a 21-14 loss to visiting Menlo-Atherton.

San Ramon Valley opened the scoring, but Elk Grove evened things up just prior to the end of the first quarter. From that point on, it was all Wolves, and quarterback Luke Baker in particular. Before giving way to junior Rhett Thompson, the senior signal caller finished the night with six TD passes on a pinpoint 16-of-18 passing for 384 yards to go with a game-high 64 yards rushing. Three of the TD passes went to senior Hudson Brinton and the other two were caught by junior Owen Scott, who finished with six receptions for 193 yards. Next up is a home opener on Friday against McClymonds. The Warriors defeated SRV in Oakland last year in a wild 45-42 victory.

5. (5) St. Francis-Mountain View 1-2

The Lancers played visiting De la Salle pretty much even for over three quarters and only trailed 21-17 after a field goal by senior kicker Christopher Han with 8:49 left to play. But unfortunately for the Lancers faithful on the home side of the field, it would be their boys final tally in a 35-17 loss. Despite the loss we are holding St. Francis tight with the Los Gatos team right below them also losing.

At this stage of the season it’s not just about wins and losses, but strength of schedule. Senior running back Andrew Scharrenberg had both St. Francis touchdowns. The first one, a 54-yard run, tied the score at 7-7, and the second TD, a 3-yard run and fourth-and-1, tied it at 14-14 with under a minute left in the half. Junior running back Kingston Keanaaina had 95 yards rushing on 18 carries, but the Spartans kept him out of the end zone. Next up for the Lancers is a West Catholic Athletic League opener at home with Archbishop Mitty in two weeks after a bye this week.

6. (9) McClymonds 2-0

We probably had the defending state CIF Northern Regional Division 2-AA Bowl Game champions too low in the first rankings after a 40-0 rout of Bellarmine in San Jose two weeks ago, but after a 45-0 trouncing of cross-town Bishop O'Dowd, the Warriors move up for several reasons. One of the primary reasons is Mack travels to No. 4 San Ramon Valley this Friday and part of rankings is looking to the future.

Looking back, the defense hasn’t yielded a score in eight quarters against decent opponents. Another reason is in the game after Bellarmine played McClymonds, they lost but scored 30 points against 3-0 Monte Vista. Against O’Dowd in a match-up of cross-town rivals that hadn’t taken place since 2012 when the Warriors lost to the Dragons, 33-26, this meeting was obviously a horse of a different color. The McClymonds defense pitched a shutout and the offense racked up 328 yards rushing with Sharkey Tamale and Ta’jir Golden each rushing for two touchdowns.

7. (6) Los Gatos 2-1

The Cats needed a game after Live Oak-Morgan Hill pulled out midweek, so defending state CIF Division 3-AA champion Grant-Sacramento took the game and made the trek to the South Bay and edged Los Gatos 22-21 in a game the host led 14-0 after one quarter, 14-8 at the half. The Wildcats fell behind 16-14 midway through the third quarter, but re-took the lead at 21-16 after three quarters. Grant took its second and final lead with around nine minutes to go but Los Gatos was unable to get in a position to win and in fact was unable to tally after the score that came with around five minutes left in the third. Los Gatos losing to Grant by a point usually would not enough to cause a drop in this group, but McClymonds has to come up ahead of the Cats.

8. (7) Marin Catholic 3-0

Its seems pretty tough to win 40-0 on the road in Fresno at San Joaquin Memorial and have outscored three opponents 121-7 combined, but they have to drop a spot to make room for a McClymonds team they’ve never beaten. And we still have them behind Los Gatos due to strength of schedule. When Marin Catholic scheduled San Joaquin Memorial that team was coming off a 10-3 season that included playoff wins over Central-Fresno and Clovis West-Fresno, and a season-ending loss to state CIF Division 1-A champion Liberty-Bakersfield.

Despite losing most of its skill players to graduation, most analysts felt the Panthers would be better, but that has not been the case, as they lost their first game to Clovis North-Fresno 62-8, and then losing 40-14 at home to the Central team they beat in the playoffs last season. Sophomore quarterback Caedon Afsharipour had another solid outing, going 21-of-31 for 289 yards passing with three TDs to three different receivers. All in all, nine different receivers caught passes. Standout running back Charles Williams ran for two TDs and an even 100 yards rushing. Next up is 0-3 James Logan in Union City on Friday night.

9. (10) Valley Christian-San Jose 3-0

After going 1-9 last season, Valley Christian has once again become a factor heading into West Catholic Athletic League play where they open in two weeks with cross-town Bellarmine after a bye this week. Last week against visiting Hollister, the Warriors led 13-3 at the half and then shut the door on the visitors and scored three second-half TDs themselves using their powerful running game in a 34-3 rout of the Balers. Sophomore Ekiah McLemore had three TDs rushing after getting two last week against Salinas. Marcel Leggett Jr. and Joseph Stephens also ran for scores

10. (NR) El Cerrito 3-0

In a bit of a twist it’s El Cerrito that gets the final spot after previous No. 8 Clayton Valley got shut out at the Honor Bowl by state-ranked Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills, but the way they got the spot is the twist part. Leading Fremont-Oakland 34-0 with two minutes left in the first half, the game was halted after Fremont did not have enough players to continue after starting the game with low numbers and then sustaining injuries in the first half. The game will be considered a forfeit but the stats will count. Quarterback Michael Vanhook connected with senior standout Kamani Jackson for a 25-yard TD, Vanhook rushed for a 10-yard score, and Gavin Thompson took a punt 55 yards to the house. Another factor is the Gauchos have a win over an Amador Valley team that just beat Acalanes. Next up for El Cerrito is a matchup at home on Friday night with Foothill-Pleasanton.

Dropped out: Previous No. 8 Clayton Valley

Others Considered: Amador Valley, Archbishop Mitty, California, Cardinal Newman, Clayton Valley, Liberty-Brentwood, Monte Vista, San Marin, St. Ignatius, Riordan, Wilcox

Cardinal Newman and St. Vincent de Paul post wins to remain unbeaten

After making a stop in Lodi on Thursday to cover a girls flag football game between top teams from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section, we stayed closer to home and covered two boys football games in Santa Rosa at Cardinal Newman on Friday night and at St. Vincent de Paul in Petaluma on Saturday afternoon.

Host Cardinal Newman (3-0) got all it could handle from Vintage but pulled out the 30-27 victory on a 20-yard field goal by junior Patrick Gardner with 1.6 seconds left.

Gardner had a chance to split the uprights from 37 yards out with 1:49 to play but the kick was blocked and recovered by Vintage at their own 15.

"He got another opportunity and put it through,” Newman head coach Richard Sanchez said of his kicker. “I never lost confidence in him.”

Vintage is a running team, and in fact only attempted seven passes after only throwing six times two weeks ago in a win over Antioch. But with 85 yards to cover in less than two minutes, they had to throw, and on the first play got a pass picked off by senior Dominick Torres to set up the game-winning field. It was the second interception of the day for Torres who also had six tackles.

While Torrez was the star on defense, the biggest star was workhorse like running back Zach Homan. The 6-0, 200-pound senior carried the ball 35 times for 218 yards and three touchdowns, and now has 494 yards and seven TDs rushing in the Cardinals first three games.

Vintage (1-2) struck first when senior quarterback Si Sabbagha raced 50 yards on the game’s third play from scrimmage to give the Crushers a 7-0 lead.

Cardinal Newman answered with a 14-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a 1-yard plunge by Homan to even things at 7-apiece.

Vintage came right back to score on a 4-yard run by senior Jeffrey Page, but Newman answered after the first interception by Torrez set up another 1-yard plunge by Homan. The PAT was blocked and it was 14-13 Vintage

Like a see-saw Vintage answered with a 14-play, 78-yard drive that ended when Sabbagha completed one of his two completions on the night, this one a 9-yard TD pass to senior Adam Drozdowicz. The run failed but the Crushers still had a 23-13 lead at the half.

Newman had deferred the opening kickoff and took the second half one and went 80 yards in 11 plays with Homan taking it in from 7 yards out. This time the PAT was good and it was knotted at 20-20.

The Cardinals took their first lead on a 14-yard TD pass from junior quarterback Jayson Colter to junior Emon Kelley to make it 27-20 after three quarters.

The teams exchanged punts but when Vintage got the ball back they drove 55 yards in eight plays with Page getting his second TD with a 5-yard run out of the Wildcat formation. That made it 27-27 and set up the heroics by Gardner.

“We knew it was going to be a battle down the stretch,” Cardinal Newman head coach Richard Sanchez said. “But we prevailed for one reason because we showed some character and desire.”

Before beginning North Bay League-Oak Division play on the road against Montgomery, Cardinal Newman now hits the road for the next two weeks with games at De Anza and St. Mary’s-Berkeley.

St. Vincent de Paul 30, Balboa 7

Host St. Vincent de Paul (3-0) spotted Balboa a 7-0 led but it was short-lived after the Mustangs came back with an equalizer on the second play after taking the ensuing kickoff and went on the score 30 unanswered points in what turned out to be an easy win.

Sophomore quarterback Gabe Casanovas passed for 192 yards and three TDs, including the early equalizer on a 60-yard pass to senior Jack Davis. Davis finished with 99 yards receiving.

The other two TD passes of 20 and 18 yards went to junior Tye Nickens. Senior Nico Antonini had the fourth touchdown on a fumble recovery in the end zone, and junior kicker Tyler Chelew closed out the Mustangs scoring with a 30-yard field goal.

Despite the lopsided win, St. Vincent de Paul was already missing starters and lost some additional ones in the game. A defensive starter that wasn’t out was standout junior lineman Rob Rooks. The 6-2, 250-pound Rooks had a sack and eight tackles with five solo.

“We had two starters out and lost three in this game so the biggest positive is we have a bye next week,” said St. Vincent de Paul head coach Trent Herzog. “Thankfully, they aren’t major injuries so we should have a full team when we play Montgomery.”

The non-league Montgomery game will be in Santa Rosa and then St. Vincent de Paul travels to Fortuna for another non-league contest. From there the defending North Bay League-Redwood Division champions open league play at home against Piner.

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