According to their coach, the players at
Logan (Union City, Calif.)
High School have already defeated the most important obstacle in dethroning De La Salle (Concord)
from its 20-year perch at the top of Bay Area football: the Spartans' mystique.
The squads face off 7 p.m. Saturday at Dublin High School for the North Coast Section Division I title.
"You have to believe first and foremost we you do this," George Zuber. "You can't think you just have a shot, but you really have to believe this is your game. I'd be foolish to say we guarantee a victory. … But we're not intimidated at all."
Don't let your kids read the following then coach.See California playoff brackets
The Spartans (12-0), ranked 12th in the country
by MaxPreps, hasn't just won the past 20 NCS large-division crowns, they've dominated.
* The average score of the 20 wins is 40-10 and none of the margins were inside double digits.
* Other than a 34-21 win over Pittsburg in 2008 and 14-0 over San Leandro in 2005 under a driving rain, the closest margin was 20 points.
* De La Salle has scored 49 points in each of the last three games – en route to State Bowl Open Division titles — and other than 2005 game, have scored at least 33 in each game.
* The Spartans have recorded five shutouts, including three straight and four in five years starting in 2003.
* Most games, De La Salle's reserves entered by late in the third quarter.
Zuber is aware De La Salle's NCS dominance, which extends to 23 titles in 24 years, 26 in 28 and 27 in the last 30. He was the defensive coordinator for San Leandro when it lost four straight years to the Spartans in the finals — 1999-02 — and in 2005.
"What they do is remarkable," he said. "I have the upmost respect for (De La Salle coach) Bob Ladouceur and (defensive coordinator) Terry Eidson and its entire staff. They are probably the best coaching staff in the state if not the country."
But these Colts believe they have a counter to the coach and the history: scrimmages.
James Logan more than held its own the last three years when the squads scrimmaged and in August actually got the better of the Spartans.
"I know those are just scrimmages and not actual games," Zuber said. "I know it's not the same and that De La Salle traditionally improves greatly over three months. But we know how they work. We know who they have."
Logan (12-1) also has fared better than the Spartans against common opponents this season with wins at San Ramon Valley-Danville (35-0) and at California-San Ramon (40-7). De La Salle won 34-9 and 27-14.
With Division I athletes like Northwestern-bound
Warren Miles Long
(1,900 yards rushing), UCLA-bound (track scholarship) Jeffrey Prothro
(2,900 total yards) and uncommitted receiver Amalani Fukofuka
(6-foot-1, 180) along with team leaders in fullback/defensive lineman Ansar Muhammad
(5-10, 180) and tight end/linebacker Ryan Bua
, the Colts have the speed and physicality to compete.
A midseason 20-13 overtime loss at perennial Sac-Joaquin Section power Del Oro (Loomis)
also helped Logan re-focus and has since outscored seven foes 353-39.
"I know it's a cliche, but that loss was really what we needed," Zuber said. "It was a great opponent (Del Oro played in the 2011 State Bowl Championship and was just eliminated from the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs on Saturday), we were on the road, we fell behind, caught up and got to play an overtime game. Everything other than the final score was a win for us."
Clearly the Colts haven't faced – in the regular season – a team as talented or polished as De La Salle, which boasts four Division I players on defense alone and boasts an improbably 234-game unbeaten streak against Northern California opponents.
But all points to a competitive game — for once.More Bay Area regional ramifications:
The winner of Logan-De La Salle will surely be picked by a CIF selection committee Sunday to participate in the Northern California regional finals Dec. 7-8. The winners of the five regional finals will then advance to the CIF Bowl games in Carson (Los Angeles County) Dec. 14-15.
Either winner from the NCS Division I game would likely get an Open Division nod.
Two other winners from the following NCS championship games will almost assuredly be picked to the regionals: Division II — Rancho Cotate (Rohnert Park)
(12-0) plays Clayton Valley (Concord)
(11-1) 7 p.m. Friday at Diablo Valley College; and Div. III — Marin Catholic (Kentfield)
(12-1) plays top seed El Cerrito
(13-0) 7 p.m. Saturday at Pinole Valley High School.
The only other likely teams to advance if victorious is Bellarmine (San Jose)
, which takes on St. Ignatius (San Francisco)
in the Central Coast Section Open Division final 7:30 p.m. Friday at San Jose City College. The battle of Atherton — Menlo School
and Sacred Heart Prep
7 p.m. at Terra Nova-Pacifica — for the Div. IV crown, has an outside shot.De La Salle NCS DemolitionScores of previous 20 NCS Large School Division championship games
1992, Pittsburg, 41-6
1993, Pinole Valley, 46-14
1994, James Logan, 35-0
1995, Pittsburg, 35-14
1996, Pittsburg, 35-7
1997, James Logan, 35-15
1998, Castro Valley, 55-13
1999, San Leandro 38-14
2000, San Leandro, 49-13
2001, San Leandro, 48-13
2002, San Leandro, 42-14
2003, Pittsburg, 39-0
2004, Amador Valley, 41-0
2005, San Leandro, 14-0
2006, Fooothill, 33-7
2007, California, 37-0
2008, Pittsburg, 34-21
2009, Pittsburg 49-14
2010, California 49-21
2011, San Ramon Valley, 49-13.
Points scored: 804, 40.2 per game
Points allowed: 199, 9.95 per game