By Richard Paolinelli
Highly-ranked Oak Grove was looking to prove its two-point loss to Palo Alto in last year's Central Coast Section Open Division championship game was an aberration as it took the field in Friday's season-opener against St. Francis.
Instead, the Eagles woke up on Saturday with a two-game losing streak hanging over their heads.
The Lancers, coming off a 5-4-1 campaign in 2006, got two rushing touchdowns from senior quarterback Sam Scudellari en route to a 31-15 upset. Scudellari added a nice 59-yard pass for another score to receiver Ryan Van Amburg to help clinch the victory.
Oak Grove's Nevin Gardiner, the section's leader in rushing with 2,054 yards and 30 TDs in 2006, was hampered by an ankle injury from a prior scrimmage and held to just 10 yards on four carries in the first half.
Van Amburg, who had 86 yards on four receptions, also played quarterback and scored on a 25-yard quarterback draw. Scudellari finished the game by hitting on 13 of his 23 pass attempts for 141 yards.
Last year, Alisal routed Sacramento High 54-12 in Salinas. This year, Sacramento had other plans. The Dragons converted nine Alisal turnovers onto a 22-0 rout of the visiting Trojans.
Sacramento recovered five fumbles and picked off four passes on the way to the season-opening victory. Alisal quarterbacks completed more passes to Sacramento defenders (4) than they did to their own receivers (2).
North Salinas dominates Branham
Devon Camel and Bobby Bautista tallied five of their team's six touchdowns to lead North Salinas to a 42-6 victory over Branham. Camel finished the game with 185 yards rushing and three TDs while Bautista scored twice on 74 yards rushing.
North Salinas scored the game's final 36 points after the two teams battled to a 6-6 tie at the end of the opening quarter.
Sacred Heart Prep gets elusive win
Sacred Heart Prep had never beaten EL Camino High on the football field and after falling behind early on Friday, it looked like that streak would stay intact for another year.
But Sacred Heart responded by scoring 21 unanswered points to defeat the Colts 21-7. Senior running back Giordano Capovilla had 110 yards on 19 carries while Joe Perry led the way by scoring all three touchdowns for Sacred Heart while piling up 113 yards on just 12 carries.
El Camino defensive back John Truong had two interceptions, the first setting up El Camino's lone score of the game when Gerald Maranan found tight end Naim Tate for a five-yard TD and a brief 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Serra pounds Buchanan
In case anyone doubted Serra High's ranking of 13th in the state, just ask Buchanan of Clovis. The Padres may just be underrated this year.
Led by seniors DeLeon Eskridge (15 carries, 81 yards, 1 TD), Tiuke Tuipulotu (7 carries, 84 yards, 1 TD) and quarterback Cody Jackson, who ran the option to perfection and added a nice 37-yard strike to Matt Sevelo for another scored, Serra destroyed Buchanan 41-7 in a dominating road performance on Friday.
Menlo-Atherton survives rough start
Menlo-Atherton is favored by many to challenge for a CCS section championship this year, but the Bears' drive for a title nearly derailed before it even got started.
Trailing by six points at halftime, Menlo-Atherton rallied to defeat host Saratoga 21-13.
Bears tailback Jamal Wilkins had 123 yards on just 10 carries and scored the game-sealing touchdown on a 66-yard jaunt with Menlo-Atherton clinging to a one-point lead in the fourth quarter.