DIVISION IIICampolindo (Moraga) 14-0 vs. Washington Union (Fresno) 13-0
FACTS AND STATSRankings — Campolindo:
State, No. 45 by MaxPreps. Washington Union:
State, No. 44 by MaxPreps. Notable Alums — Campolindo:
Matt Biondi (11-time Olympic swimming medalist), Stephen Robinson (Astronaut) and Carey Schueler (First woman to be drafted by an MLB team). Washington Union:
Matt Garza (Chicago Cubs pitcher and 2008 ALCS MVP), DeShawn Stevenson (NBA player) and Molly West (Fashion model).Leading Rushers — Campolindo: Reiner Ebarle
(141 carries, 911 yards, 12 TDs), Connor Rosenbaum
(123-592-8). Washington Union: Donald Phelps
(151-1,237-16), Javon Harrison
Leading Passers — Campolindo: Brett Stephens
(145-for-256, 2713 yards, 29 TD, 4 INT). Washington Union: Chris Cain
(144-230-2741-35-4).Leading Receivers — Campolindo: Griffin Piatt
(46 catches, 972 yards, 14 TDs), Karl Thornton
(40-583-6), Mason Windatt
(19-501-5). Washington Union: Deontay Greenberry
(105-2149-32), Dashown Fletcher
(23-397-6), De Melvin Stell
(23-445-4).Points per game (allowed) —
Campolindo 38.6 (15.8), Washington Union 44.5 (7.8).
No matter which team wins the Division III Bowl championship, a great story is certain to emerge. Either the champion will be a team that was picked to finish last in its league or it will be a team bearing the weight of an entire section on its back.
Start first with Campolindo, located just east of Oakland in the hills of the Bay Area. The Cougars' story seems more fitting for Hollywood than Contra Costa County, with an unproven squad and an incorrect preconceived notion that every other squad in the Diablo Foothill Athletic League would finish with a better record. The naysayers spoke early, and likely continued through the season, yet coach Kevin Macy has his boys battling for the ultimate prize.
"We're just happy and amazed to be in the thing," Macy told MaxPreps Senior Writer Mitch Stephens after his team won the North Coast Section Division III title. "We're banged up and emotionally spent, but of course we'll find the energy to get down there and play our best."
Then take a look at Washington Union, the first school from the CIF Central Section to earn a berth in a Bowl game. The Panthers, who come from the town of Easton but have a Fresno zip code, have been one of the most dominant teams from the middle of the state for the last three years. But that part of California has never been chosen to play for the state title. Now all teams from Madera County down to the Grapevine will look to Washington Union to prove that the kids from the center of the state can play with – and win – against schools from other sections.
"We're carrying the torch for the whole section," coach Jeff Freitas told Andy Boogaard of the Fresno Bee. "I feel a little extra pressure to represent the section well. We can't lay an egg. So we're not going down just to participate; we're going down to win."
Campolindo, in true Hollywood fashion, squeezed past Marin Catholic with a 21-yard field goal by Christian Antezana
in the final seconds to forge a 20-18 victory in the NCS title game. It capped off a regular season that saw the Cougars defeat the bracket's top two seeds and bounce back from a 5-6 record last year. It didn't come easy (Campolindo had to drive from its own 36-yard line to set up the winning score), and that's OK for a team that keeps finding ways to play better than its opponent.
"All year long we said we'll go one more week and see what happens," Macy told Ben Enos of Bay Area News Group. "We just kept waiting to see when it was going to stop... Hollywood couldn't have put anything better together for what happened."
The boys from Easton made it a point to make it to the Home Depot Center this year. And as the possibility became more real with each passing week, the Panthers started playing their best football of the year. In three playoff contests, Washington Union outscored its opponents 139-12 (one touchdown was scored on a turnover return) and the team yielded just 15 points in its final six games. The Panthers are tied with two other schools for the longest winning streak by a California Interscholastic Federation team with 21. The top mark in the state is 36, but Truckee competes in the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.
"The kids talked about team and individual goals (after a summer camp). Then it came to my turn and I said, 'Hey, guys, why not us go to state? Why not us? We've got the guys and the ability,'" Freitas said. "I put that to them and they bought into it. It's always been the ultimate goal." CAMPOLINDO OFFENSE vs.
WASHINGTON UNION DEFENSE
Freitas calls the Washington Union defense the best he's had in 14 years. The unit yielded eight touchdowns in the first three games - and four in the final nine contests. It's a hot defense with four shutouts in the last six games, and it'll face a Campolindo offense that has succeeded with a little bit of balance and a solid amount of ball security this season. The Cougars have turned the ball over 13 times and they've averaged 203 rushing yards and 160.5 passing yards each game.
It all starts with Brett Stephens (6-1, 185) for Campolindo. The junior averages more than seven touchdown passes for each interception and can also run the ball, averaging 3.83 yards per carry. That number doesn't jump out, but consider that in high school, sacks are reflected in rushing numbers.
He's been throwing more in the playoffs than the regular season, and it has led to great success. Three of his top four pass attempt totals came in the NCS playoffs and he's connected for six playoff touchdowns to go with an average of just more than 226 passing yards per game.
Seniors Griffin Piatt (6-3, 180) and Karl Thornton (5-11, 185) are Stephens' favorite targets and they play different roles in the receiving game. Piatt is the home run threat with an average of 21.1 yards per catch and 14 touchdowns this season on 46 catches. Thornton has 40 grabs, but he's more of a possession receiver with a 14.6 average and six scores. Junior Mason Windatt (26.4 yards per catch on 19 grabs) is another scoring threat.
Stephens will hand off most often to seniors Connor Rosenbaum and Reiner Ebarle. Rosenbaum has taken over the majority of the team's carries during the playoff run after Ebarle wore the workhorse label earlier. Rosenbaum has carried the ball 63 times for 335 yards and three touchdowns in the last four games while Ebarle has 18 carries in the last three games. Rosenbaum also made a 42-yard reception against Marin Catholic.
Freitas' defense has forced 17 turnovers this year and the Panthers also have racked up 19 sacks. The linebackers put up the big numbers, as senior Shane McCurly
(5-11, 190) has five sacks and two interceptions, while senior KC Migliore
(6-1, 185) leads the team with 88 tackles.WASHINGTON UNION OFFENSE vs.
Senior Deontay Greenberry is one of the nation's most prolific wide receivers and he's certain to see the ball a lot. The Notre Dame-bound star receiver is tied for the national lead in touchdown receptions and is No. 8 in the nation in receiving yards. He's 6-3, 187 pounds, an All-American and an absolute monster on the outside.
Greenberry gets his passes from senior Chris Cain, whose numbers resemble Stephens' with the exception of a better completion percentage. He didn't play quarterback in the season's first two games but is firmly entrenched in the Washington Union offense, and has run for seven touchdowns.
Dashown Fletcher is next on the receiving pecking order with 19 catches.
Donald Phelps, a 175-pound senior, leads a dependable rushing game for Washington Union. He has surpassed the 100-yard mark in six games this season, averages 11.6 carries per game and his nose for the end zone has produced 16 touchdowns. Javon Harrison spells Phelps with 6.8 yards per rush and five touchdowns.
Campolindo's defense has had a good, maybe even great, season. But it's definitely not on the level of Washington Union. The Cougars' high in terms of points allowed is 25, and the average per game is a respectable 15.8.
The stat that jumps out is the interceptions. Campolindo has picked off an incredible 31 passes according to stats supplied to MaxPreps, and it has also recovered 10 fumbles. Leading receivers Piatt and Thornton each have eight interceptions this year. Senior outside linebacker Nate MacDonald
(6-1, 185) leads Campolindo with six sacks.EXTRA POINTS
Campolindo comes from Moraga, with a population of 16,016. Washington Union comes from Easton, with a population of about 2,000... Washington Union was founded in 1892 and is the oldest high school in Fresno County... Campolindo athletic director Bob Wilson was named The California Coaches Association Boys' Athletic Director of the Year for 2010.