OAKLAND, Calif. -
New team. New star. Same result.
For the 20th straight season, De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
High School's football team not only won a North Coast Section title Saturday at the O.Co Coliseum, but it once again dominated.Tiapepe Vitale
put his name along side the many accomplished De La Salle backs – D.J. Williams, Maurice Jones-Drew, Patrick Walsh, Lucas Dunne – with 168 yards rushing and six touchdowns in a 49-13 Division I finals victory over San Ramon Valley (Danville, Calif.)
and Cal-bound quarterback Zach Kline
Vitale, a 5-foot-11, 196-pound junior, scored on runs of 5, 5, 20, 6, 8 and 7 yards as the Spartans (12-1), ranked 19th nationally by MaxPreps.com, piled up 505 yards, including 348 on the ground.
Much like the rest of the Spartans, Vitale has improved rapidly as the season progressed. He entered the game as De La Salle's leading rusher but with only 999 yards, a far cry from last year's premier back Dunn, who finished with 1,908 yards and 35 scores.
But when it counted most, Vitale produced. Just like De La Salle has done season after season after season. Its won 27 NCS titles overall.
"I came in with the mind set to just run hard," Vitale said. "A lot was on my shoulders this year. I felt a load on my back. I've just kept running hard."
De La Salle standout two-way lineman Luc Hamilton
said Vitale started slow.
"He just came out and worked harder and harder and it all paid off tonight," Hamilton said.
Following a humbling 30-6 loss to St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), the Spartans have won 10 straight by a combined 458-57 count.
They'll almost assuredly be selected today as the Northern California Open Division participant for next week's State Bowl Championships in Carson (Los Angeles County).
De La Salle is the only program in the state to be selected to the previous five Bowl Game Championships. It will likely play Westlake (Westlake Village, Calif.)
in the title game
"I think we're in a good spot," De La Salle coach Bob Ladouceur said. "Our defense plays well. I know we're going to play a team that's got a lot of speed and is very athletic but I like our chances. I like this team. We'll be ready and we'll give it a good whirl."
Kline, just selected the Gatorade State Player of the Year, gave it a good shot Saturday, completing 17 of 30 for 294 yards and an 11-yard touchdown to Jordan Weiss
, who scored San Ramon Valley's other touchdown on a 2-yard run.
By that time, the Wolves (10-4) were down 42-0, which is about par for the course in these one-side championship affairs. De La Salle hasn't lost to a Northern California opponent in 223 games over 20 years.David Riopelle
added 123 yards rushing including a 71-yard touchdown and Wisconsin-bound quarterback Bart Houston
completed nine of 12 for 157 yards.
It begs the question, when will De La Salle's dominance ever end?
"Competing against a team from multiple cities versus a team from one city is too much," San Ramon Valley coach Mark Kessler said. "They're an amazing program, no discredit to them, but you see it year in, year out – 20 straight – it's not a fair playing field.
"I give our kids credit for battling, but every time you put a finger in the wall a couple more start popping out until, hey, it's a flood."