Editor's note: All rankings here are according to MaxPreps Bowl Game ratings.
Bellarmine (San Jose, Calif.) football coach Mike Janda is a very modest, under-stated gent. He'd rather let actions speak for him, not words.
And his no-nonsense, hard-hitting, fundamentally near-perfect squad reflects that.
But even Janda had to speak up after his team's resounding 41-13 win over Palo Alto for the Central Coast Section Open Division championship at San Jose City College on Friday.
The Bells (12-1) are in a three-team dog fight for two spots in the CIF State Bowl-game picture so he was asked about his team's chances of getting picked.
Bellarmine entered No. 2 in the MaxPreps Division 1 Northern California Bowl Game ratings and Palo Alto No. 7.
His team's only loss was a 27-24 double-overtime defeat to De La Salle to open the season. De La Salle and Pleasant Grove are the other two teams vying for the Open Division and Division I Northern California spots.
With this section-title win, Bellarmine is the leader in the clubhouse. De La Salle and Pleasant Grove still need championship-game wins to be considered.
"We won 12 games," Janda said. "Our only loss was to one of the better teams in the whole country. I'm just really proud of our players. If they could play another game, I'd be excited for them."
Janda doesn't show his excitement often. But he was clearly feeling proud after this impressive showing against the defending state Division I bowl champions.
As usual, the Bells were led by 6-foot-3, 205-pound quarterback Travis McHugh, who rushed 20 times for 206 yards and accounted for four touchdowns.
Besides his tough running, a touchdown pass, five extra points and four kickoffs to the end zone, McHugh also blocked and exalted his team on the sideline.
"Nothing is guaranteed," McHugh said when asked his team's chances to be selected to the bowl game. "I think we deserve a bid just because of what we have done this season. We lost to De La Salle in double-overtime. They're still ranked as one of the best teams in the state. It's not up to us to decide. If they call our number, we'll be ready to go."
McHugh's only goof came following his own 54-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. He missed the extra point.
B.J. Boyd made him pay immediately for Palo Alto, taking the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for his fifth return touchdown of the season. That gave Palo Alto a 7-6 lead and this one looked like it might be competitive.
But by halftime, McHugh had two more TD runs of 4 and 19 yards and he fired a 13-yard scoring toss to Jared Vallner. The Bells led 27-7 and dominated in yards (256-51) and first downs (14-3).
When Bellarmine opened the second half with an 81-yard scoring drive capped by a 23-yard touchdown run by Tim Crawley, this one was over.
"I'm confident we're going to get the berth to state after this win," Bellarmine star linebacker and tight end Joe Gigantino. "We're a winning team. We play hard. I think we deserve it."More Northern California Division I
No. 1 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) 48, No. 8 Pittsburg 0
De La Salle scored all its points in the first half as it tuned up for the North Coast Section Division I championship with a semifinal rout of Pittsburg (9-4) in the semifinals.
De La Salle running back Tiapepe Vitale ran for a game-high 98 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. The Spartans (11-1) had 321 yards on the ground — most of which came before halftime — and Wisconsin-bound quarterback Bart Houston attempted just five passes and rushed for two touchdowns giving him 17 on the year.
Since losing to Pittsburg in the NCS 3A finals in 1991, De La Salle (11-1) has won 19-straight NCS titles and hasn’t lost to a team from Northern California in 222 games.
Other gamesThe other Top 10 ranked teams in this Division play Saturday: No. 3 Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) versus No. 4 Granite Bay, No. 5 Serra (San Mateo) vs. No. 10 Menlo-Atherton (Atherton) and No. 6 San Ramon Valley (Danville) at No. 9 Monte Vista (Danville).
Southern California Division INo. 3 Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita) 21, No. 5 Mission Viejo 20
Johnny Stanton scored on a 1-yard run with 1:02 remaining and John McGroy's extra point lifted Santa Margarita to the victory over host Mission Viejo in a Southern Section Pac-5 Division semifinal. Mission Viejo eliminated Santa Margarita last season.
Santa Margarita (11-2) plays San Clemente (12-1), a 51-16 winner over upstart Tesoro, for the title next week at Angel Stadium. Coach Harry Welch is going after his ninth Southern Section crown.
Mission Viejo (10-3) looked in good shape when Doug Ruggles returned a fumble 86 yards for a touchdown to go up 17-14 with 10:03 to play. A Zach Olsen 38-yard field goal made it 20-14.
Strong safety Doug Ruggles scooped up a Stanton fumble and returned it
86 yards for a touchdown to give Mission Viejo a 17-14 lead with 10:03
left in the fourth quarter. Ruggles then intercepted a deflected pass on
the Eagles' next offensive play, setting up a 38-yard field goal by
Zach Olsen that increased the Diablos' lead to six with 6:35 remaining.
Santa Margarita's Ryan Wolpin rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns. No. 6 Vista Murrieta 39, No. 2 Upland 18Aaron Piecukonis rushed for 132 yards and a touchdowns, Nicholas Stevens passed for 177 yards and Su'a Cravens did just about everything else as Vista Murrieta (8-5) moved into next week's Southern Section Inland finals against Centennial with an upset win.
Well, it wasn't that big of upset. Murrieta is actually unbeaten on the field. It forfeited five nonleague games for using an ineligible player. The penalty was self-imposed.
Darion Williams sealed the victory with a 34-yard interception return. Upland (12-1) got 227 yards passing from Nate Romaine. Other games
No. 4 San Clemente advanced to its first Southern Section final in 32 years by defeating Tesoro 51-16 behind quarterback Travis Wilson, who accounted for 270 yards and fourth touchdowns. ... No. 1 Westlake (Westlake Village) led 45-0 by halftime en route to a 62 victory over Thousand Oaks. The team's defense forced six turnovers and had three sacks and quarterback Justin Moore accounted for three TDs in the first half. ... Brandon Dawkins accounted for three touchdowns and No. 8 Oaks Christian fought back from a 17-7 deficit to beat No. 7 St. Bonaventure 27-24. Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) is 11-2.Northern California Division II
No. 1 Del Oro (Loomis) 21, No. 3 Oakdale 7
rushed 21 times for 141 yards and two third-quarter touchdowns and Nick O'Sullivan added 127 yards as Del Oro likely locked up a Division II Bowl berth with a Division III SJS title win at Sacramento State. Though Del Oro is Division III in SJS it qualifies as Division II for state. STORY.
No. 7 Windsor (Calif.) 35, Dublin 0
Host Windsor (13-0) reached the NCS Division II finals for the first
time with a convincing win propelled by a 35-yard interception return
for touchdown from Vincent Valdes in the first quarter.
Running back Darrian Roman and quarterback Christian McAlvain each accounted for two touchdowns for the winners.
More scoresAll the other games from the Top 10 take place Saturday. ... No. 2 Folsom against No. 4 Vacaville, No. 6 Los Gatos versus No. 8 Pioneer (San Jose) and No. 9 Concord at No. 10 Rancho Cotate (Rohnert Park).
Southern California Division IINo. 1 Helix (La Mesa) 21, Mission Hills 0Darrion Hancock rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns as Helix (11-1) moves into the San Diego Section finals against Oceanside, a 27-7 winner over La Costa Canyon. Oceanside is a Division I school by state bowl standards.
No. 4 Arroyo Grande 45, No. 2 Chaminade 36
Terrell Newby rushed for 242 yards and four touchdowns for Chaminade but Arroyo Grande reached the Southern Section Western Division final with a resounding comeback victory. Brent VanderVeen threw three touchdown passes for the winners, who face Culver City in the finals. Henry Adelman added 153 yards rushing and a TD for Arroyo Grande. Other gamesJunior quarterback Conner Manning passed Matt Barkley as the Orange County single-season leader for passing yards after leading No. 6 El Toro (Lake Forest) to a wild 47-41 win over La Habra. Manning passed for 465 yards and two touchdowns and now has 3,946 passing yards this year, better than Barkeley 3,560 in 2007 at Mater Dei. ... Lots of other activity in this Division as No. 3 Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) beat Point Loma 24-0, No. 5 Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley) knocked off Colony 42-14, No. 7 Tustin edged Foothil 21-20 and No. 9 Palm Springs beat Carter 17-7. Northern California Division III
No. 3 Campolindo (Moraga) 35, No. 2 Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa 24In NCS Division III semifinal play, Brett Stephens threw for 217 yards and accounted for two touchdowns as Campolindo’s fairytale season continued.
The Cougars (13-0) fought back from a 21-0 deficit and used a 33-yard Hail-Mary TD pass to Karl Thornton on the last play of the half, and a 52-yard double pass to Mason Wineatt to tie the game at 21-21 with 9:44 left in the third.
After Cardinal Newman (11-1-1) went ahead on a 34-yard field goal by Nico Hoehne with 3:05 left in the third, Connor Rosenbaum (92 yards rushing) put Campolindo up for good with a 2-yard run and Stephens capped it with another 2-yard TD run.
Stephen Tomasin rushed 34 times for 178 yards and a TD for Newman.
Campolindo, picked to finish last in its league by the Contra Costa Times (Campolindo's coach Kevin Macy agreed with the assessment), the Cougars are one win away from a probably state-bowl berth. Hilmar 20, No. 5 Escalon 17
The defending state champions went down to defeat as Kurtis Bettencourt drilled a 41-yard field goal with 19.5 seconds left in the SJS Division IV title game. It was an emotional win for Hilmar (12-2) who dedicated the win to former offensive line coach Franky Silveira, who died in July. Other games
All other teams in the top 10 play Saturday: No. 1 Marin Catholic (Kentfield) versus No. 8 Encinal (Alameda), No. 4 Palma (Salinas) against No. 9 Carmel (Carmel) and No. 6 St. Ignatius (San Francisco) takes on arch-San Francisco rival and No. 7 Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) at AT&T Park. Southern California Division III
No. 1 Lompoc 56, Torrance 21
Lompoc (13-0) rushed for 445 yards and its defense held Torrance to eight first downs in a Southern Section Northwest Division semifinal win
. Lavon Coleman rushed for 206 yards and four touchdowns. No. 2 Washington Union (Fresno) 35, Coalinga 0
Chris Cain ran for one touchdowns and passed for three more - two to Dashown Fletcher - and the defense recorded a shutout and scored on a 47-yard interception return by Donald Phelps as Washington Union breezed
to the Central Section playoff win. Other games
Cody Gearhart intercepted two passes leading No. 3 Valley Center to a 23-21 win
over No. 4 Madison (10-1-1) in a San Diego Section Division IV semifinal game. Garrett Fiehler rushed 40 times for 166 yards and Michael McInerny kicked three field goals for the winners (11-1). ... In other games involving Top 10 Bowl team rankings, Beckman (Irvine)
defeated Estancia 57-21, No. 7 Santana (Santee)
beat Coronado 38-25, No. 8 Corona del Mar (Newport Beach)
knocked off Laguna Beach 41-14, No. 9 Paraclete (Lancaster)
beat Rim of the World 45-17 and No. 10 Covina
defeated Monrovia 41-27.