DUBLIN, Calif. —
Many sincerely believed that Saturday's North Coast Section Division I final would finally be a day of reckoning for De La Salle (Concord)
High School's football team.
Instead it was Groundhog Day: De La Salle 52, James Logan (Union City) 7.
Behind four touchdown passes from Chris Williams
and four interceptions for its defense, one returned for touchdown by Cal-bound Victor Egu
the Spartans do what they seem to do best when it counts most: dominate.
Under a heavy rain at Dublin High School, Williams (9-of-11, 145 yards) completed touchdown passes of 37 and 44 yards to Andrew Buckley
(six catches, 132 yards) and 10 and 3 yards to Austin Hooper
and the defense did the rest as the Spartans (13-0) won their 21st straight, 24th in 25 years and 28 in the last 31. Tiapepe Vitale
added 23 carries for 100 yards and a TD for the Spartans, who extended their unfathomable unbeaten streak against Northern California opponents to 235 games.
This against a team that had outscored its last seven foes since a midseason loss to Del Oro-Loomis 353-39. The De La Salle coaching staff compared Logan to many of the top Southern California foes it has faced over the years and as the best team it had played in an NCS finals since perhaps the 1990s.
"I can definitely say this was our best game of the year," De La Salle coach Bob Ladouceur said after the rain-drenched game. "At this time of the year you need to be balanced and we were today. Our play-action really helped our passing game."
The last two seasons, the Spartans won CIF State Open Bowl games by a combined score of 83-8. Both those opponents were ranked in the top 10 nationally. Qwixcore account of game
De La Salle will no doubt be selected into the first regional championship Open Division game Sunday against likely Folsom. That announcement will come sometime around noon.
The nation's No. 12 team
took advantage of a failed fake punt by Logan and an interception to take a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Two plays after the fake punt fell short, Williams connected with Buckley on a 45-yard touchdown bomb down the middle of the field. Then after Jeffrey Prothro
was intercepted for just the second time all year – by linebacker D.J. Moffitt — Williams (8 of 11, 145 yards) evaded big pressure to complete 10-yard touchdown to Hooper, making it 14-0 with 1:12 left in the quarter.
With a driving rain coming down, De La Salle looked like it was going to put it away driving inside the Logan 10 on its next possession but Ryan Bua stripped Williams and returned it to the Logan 8.
On 3rd-and-14, Prothro escaped a big rush in the end zone and completed a 46-yard pass to Ahki Muhammad. Four plays later Warren Miles Long
(18 carries, 131 yards) ripped darted up field, then around the left edge on a 38-yard touchdown and Logan was back in it, down 14-7 with 6:56 left in the half.
De La Salle took back control while getting its running game in gear. It traveled 61 yards in 12 plays, capped with the drive's only passing play, a Williams 3-yard TD to Hooper over the middle with 1:46 left in the half.
"I'm proud of our team," Ladouceur said. "We've come a long way."
Logan looked charged to make a big comeback, but fumbled away one of its six turnovers on its first possession of the third quarter. Vitale promptly cashed it on, capping a 30-yard drive with a 3-yard run.
When Egu intercepted a screen and returned it 11 yards for a TD on the next drive, this one was over with De La Salle leading 35-7.
A safety, 37-yard touchdown pass to Buckley and an 11-yard TD run by Kamron Akukoro
capped the scoring for the Spartans, who held a 361-280 edge in yards.
Buckley, who has a baseball scholarship secured to Cal, has done pretty well for himself on the big stage. He pitched a five-hitter and struck out 10 in the NCS title game win over California on Jan. 2.
"A championship in baseball is nice, but football really means a lot to me because I've been with these guys for four years," Buckley said.
He and Williams had no trouble connecting in the heavy rain.
"Throwing in the rain really is a challenge," he said. "(Williams) couldn't have done it any better."
Marin Catholic 31, El Cerrito 28Qwixcore
At Pinole Valley High School,
drilled a 27 yard field goal with 13.1 seconds left lifting the Marin Catholic (Kentfield, Calif.)
(13-1) to the thrilling win over El Cerrito
(13-1). … Hill's touchdown was set up on an interception by Jared Lazor
with 2:09 remaining. … It was the second interception thrown by Keilan Benjamin
, who was brilliant all night with 124 yards passing, 136 yards rushing while accounting for three scores. … His 14-yard TD to Jalen Harvey
tied the game at 28-28 with 8:24 to go. … Cal-bound quarterback Jared Goff
had an off night passing (7 of 19, 108 yards) but he ran for 79 yards including a 30-yard TD to give the Wildcats a 28-21 lead. … Other standouts for Marin Catholic were Akili Terry
(125 yards rushing, TD) and Andrew Celis
(TD runs of 3 and 65 yards). … Marin Catholic will almost assuredly be selected to a regional final game and most have the Wildcats penciled in against Sutter. Central Coast Section
San Benito 35, Milpitas 28 San Benito (Hollister)
(8-5), the 6th seed, won its sixth CCS crown with a victory over the top seed at Independence High in San Jose. … Milpitas
finished 9-4. ... According to the San Jose Mercury News, San Benito intercepted four passes, two by Cody Cameron
, one that he returned 70 yards for a touchdown to give his team a 21-0 lead. ... Cameron then returned a fumble 24 yards for another score to make it 28-0. ... John Barrera
and Cody Freitas
also had interceptions. ... Milpitas came all the was back behind major college recruit Vita Vea
, a 6-2, 280-pound middle linebacker and fullback who rushed 22 times for 205 yards and two scores. .... CJ Reyes
and Brandon Sualua
each had two-yard touchdown runs to tie the game at 28-28. ... But Damien Botelho
scored on a 10-yard run in the fourth quarter to give San Benito the victory. Division II
St. Francis 17, Los Gatos 0Qwixcore
After a scoreless first half,
St. Francis (Mountain View)
scored 17 unanswered points behind quarterback Mike Lauck
who threw for 115 yards and rushed for 69. … St. Francis (8-5) won its 15th CCS title. ... A 10-yard touchdown pass from Lauck to Charlie Clarke
with 4:06 left in the third quarter was all the Lancers needed but they got another touchdown from Alex Andrighetto
, who scored on a 10-yard run in the third quarter. .... According to the San Jose Mercury News, Andrighetto finished with 93 yards rushing on 10 carries. ... St. Francis' defense has been its strength all season and it finished with three shutouts in its last four games and five overall. ... The Lancers gave up just 154 points all season and outscored their last four opponents by a combined 124-7. ... Los Gatos
(9-4) was led by sophomore Joey Wood
, who rushed for 108 yards. Division III
Valley Christian 51, Aptos 20QwixcoreJay MacIntyre
, son of San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre, had touchdown throws of 14, 34 and 17 yards as No. 3 seed Valley Christian (San Jose)
(7-6) had little trouble with Aptos
(10-3), which was led by Elijah Marta
(23 carries, 137 yards). … MacIntyre also returned a fumble 45 yards for a touchdown and intercepted a pass in the end zone. … Sophomore running back Kirk Johnson
carried just seven times but for 179 yards and touchdowns of 68 and 74 yards. … This was Valley Christian's first CCS title since 2005. Division IV
Sacred Heart Prep 13, Menlo School 7
At Terra Nova-Pacific, Kevin Donahoe
scored on an 11-yard run capping a 73-yard drive in the fourth quarter to give Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton)
(12-1) the victory. … An interception by Jack Del Santo
clinched the victory with 1:14 left. … Menlo (Atherton)
(10-3) took a 7-0 lead on an 8-yard pass from Jack Heneghan
to Matt Bradley
in the second quarter. … Sacred Heart Prep tied it with 5:33 left in the third on a 1-yard TD run by Ben Burr Kirven