When this season’s Bay Area high school football schedule came out, one date on the calendar stood out above the others.
That date is here.
Friday’s matchups are filled with potential drama as top teams such as Serra, De La Salle, Wilcox, Menlo-Atherton, Los Gatos, Sacred Heart Prep and others all have big games.
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Here is the Week 5 preview and schedule:
No. 1 Serra (3-0) at No. 9 St. Francis (1-2), 7 p.m.: One of these teams has captured at least a piece of the West Catholic Athletic League championship in each of the past eight complete seasons, which makes this league-opening matchup a big one. St. Francis once dominated the series, winning 34 in a row over the San Mateo school from 1972-2005. But starting with a 21-17 win in 2006, which ended the streak, Serra is 12-8 against St. Francis. That includes an epic 16-12 triumph in the Central Coast Section Division I championship game last season. Three weeks earlier, St. Francis pounded Serra in San Mateo for the WCAL title, 43-21. In the past six meetings between the teams, each has won three times. Serra is off to a great start this season, winning tight road games over Northern California heavyweights Folsom and De La Salle and then beating Central Catholic-Modesto at home. St. Francis opened with a come-from-behind win at home over Central Catholic but then lost soundly to Monterey Trail-Elk Grove and De La Salle. Both sides have had two weeks to prepare for the league opener. Keala Keanaaina and Kamau Julien are St. Francis’ leading ballcarriers. Maealiuaki Smith has been superb at QB for Serra. — Darren Sabedra
Folsom (3-1) at No. 2 De La Salle (3-1), 7 p.m.: De La Salle has circled a lot of games on its schedule. This one might be a shade darker than the rest. Folsom, after all, ended De La Salle’s season in a regional title game last year, overcoming an early two-touchdown deficit to stun the Spartans 28-27 on the same field that the teams will play on Friday. Zeke Berry, now a Michigan freshman, was stopped at the goal line on a two-point try with 1:44 left, Folsom recovered an onside kick and De La Salle never touched the ball again. Earlier last season, in Folsom, Berry returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and De La Salle rolled to a 31-10 win. The Spartans were 5-0 against Folsom before the regional loss. Both teams have lost close games at home this season to Serra, and both won big road games last week, with Folsom beating Pittsburg 23-15 and De La Salle toppling Cathedral-San Diego 28-20. Charles Greer ran for 211 yards and two touchdowns in 22 carries and Carson Su’esu’e threw for 180 yards and two TDs against Cathedral. Folsom intercepted four passes and returned a blocked field goal for a TD against Pittsburg. Austin Mack has thrown 11 TD passes without an interception for the Sacramento area powerhouse this season. — Darren Sabedra
No. 7 Menlo-Atherton (2-1) at No. 4 Wilcox (3-0), 7 p.m.: Menlo-Atherton comes back from Placer County after taking its lumps in a 42-13 rout at Del Oro’s hands. The only bright spots on offense were an 80-yard touchdown run by Sherrod Smith and an 80-yard drive to open the game that ended with another touchdown run by Smith. Now the Bears travel to Wilcox for a matchup between two of the best public schools in the CCS. Wilcox had last week off after opening the season with wins over Valley Christian, Hollister and Leland. Andrew Palacios and Elijah Walker have combined for 550 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground in Wilcox’s veer. Defensive backs such as Mitchell Gonzalez and Maulidi Saleh will have the challenge of trying to slow down M-A receivers Jurrion Dickey and Jayden Moss. The teams have not met since 2019, a 42-35 Wilcox victory in the first round of the CCS playoffs. In 2018, M-A overcame a 21-point deficit to stun previously unbeaten Wilcox 33-28 in a CCS final. — Joseph Dycus
No. 6 San Ramon Valley (3-0) at No. 24 Liberty (3-1), 7 p.m.: All San Ramon Valley has done this year is win. The Wolves took Las Lomas apart last week in a 41-17 win, and their offensive success starts with junior quarterback Luke Baker. He has completed 77.3 percent of his passes and has thrown for eight scores. Gavin Jones has been his top big-play target, catching 13 passes fo 308 yards and three touchdowns. Liberty’s Frankie Cruz, Jackson Moore and Steven Luoma each have 1.5 sacks, and Kasen Camara brings a big-play element to the return game. He returned a kick 90 yards for a touchdown against Wood. — Joseph Dycus
No. 22 St. Ignatius (1-2) vs. No. 8 Bellarmine (1-2) at San Jose City College, 7 p.m.: Despite identical records, there is a wide disparity in where these teams are ranked. So what gives? SI has played a slightly tougher schedule, but Bellarmine has played all three games on the road, giving Menlo-Atherton and McClymonds all they could handle before losing. The Wildcats took Jesuit-Carmichael to the wire in a 17-7 defeat three weeks ago, but they were no match for St. Mary’s-Stockton in their last game, losing 49-20. St. Mary’s had 362 yards of total offense, 4½ sacks and forced three turnovers. The Bells have used two quarterbacks in the first three games in junior Parker Threatt and senior Nate Escalada. Running back Ben Pfaff, last season’s WCAL Junior of the Year, has rushed for 427 yards and five touchdowns. On defense, senior Jae’Von Reels has four sacks. The 6-1, 270-pounder has an offer from Linfield College in Oregon and is hearing from numerous other schools. – Mike Lefkow
No. 10 Los Gatos (2-1) at No. 21 Sacred Heart Prep (2-1), 4 p.m.: The winner of this game will be decided before most other games start as the teams are playing a rare Friday afternoon game. Sacred Heart Prep coach Mark Grieb says Los Gatos will probably be the best opponent his team plays all season. The Wildcats rely on a balanced ground game. The two mainstays are Emilano Meija and Chase Hinson, who have six combined touchdowns and 375 yards rushing. Senior QB Jake Boyd has thrown for 442 yards and two TDs. Sacred Heart Prep’s running game dominated Archbishop Riordan last week. Andrew Latu (410 yards on the season) is hard to take down between the tackles, and Brandon Hsing (9.2 yards per catch) brings a speedy element to the Gators’ offense. Linebacker Shay O’Kelly leads the team with 9.5 tackles per game. These teams have met twice in a CCS semifinal, with Sacred Heart Prep winning 28-21 in 2014 and Los Gatos prevailing 21-11 in 2019. — Joseph Dycus
No. 13 Heritage (4-0) at James Logan (2-2), 7 p.m.: You hate to label a non-league game as a must-win. But that could be the predicament in which James Logan finds itself if it wants a better seed than last year in the North Coast Section playoffs when it got stuck with De La Salle in the first round. Final score: DLS 49, Colts 13. Logan coach Eddie Smith purposely scheduled five tough non-league encounters, hoping his team would get more respect from the Division I seeding committee even if it lost two or three of those contests. Heritage, however, is the last D-I team on Logan’s schedule. No one in Logan’s MVAL/WACC Foothill Division is higher than Division II, except for the Colts. Logan is 1-1 against D-I competition thus far (loss to California, win over Monte Vista). To beat Heritage, the Colts will have to stop running back Devon Rivers. The Fresno State-bound back has rushed for 991 yards in four games. He’s averaging 11.8 yards per carry, 247.8 yards per game and has scored 13 touchdowns. If that’s not enough, sophomore quarterback Austin Peters has passed for 488 yards (122 per game) and thrown seven touchdowns. Receiver Jeremiah Ruffin has a Nevada offer. Logan will be one of the tougher teams Heritage has played. The Colts are pretty balanced between the run and pass. Sophomore Danzel Mercado is the team’s leading receiver, and seniors Al Jacko and Jaleel Jones are a formidable one-two punch at running back. – Mike Lefkow
No. 14 Amador Valley (2-1) at Foothill (2-2), 7 p.m.: Amador Valley was 4-0 when it hosted cross-town rival Foothill last season. The Dons were favored to win that game. They were undefeated and they played in the tough East Bay Athletic League Mountain Division. Foothill, from the Valley Division, upset AV 21-17. That sent the teams in opposite directions for the remainder of the 2021 season. Amador Valley didn’t win again, losing seven in a row, albeit against a brutal schedule. The Falcons, meanwhile, went 6-2 in their last eight games and had a nice run in the North Coast Section playoffs. You can bet Dons coach Danny Jones will remind his troops of that. Amador Valley still has a tough schedule ahead, but these Dons are more experienced and improved. Defensive ends Brady Nassar and James Rothstein will both play in college. Nassar (6-5, 240) is committed to Colorado. Rothstein (6-6, 240), who will probably play tight end in college, has offers from Air Force, Army and several more. Foothill WR Chris Lawson is the best player on the field if he plays. He’s missed two of the last three games, including last Friday’s 35-7 thrashing by El Cerrito. – Mike Lefkow
No. 16 Mitty (3-0) vs. No. 20 Sacred Heart Cathedral (2-1) at Kezar Stadium, 7 p.m.: Mitty has been one of the pleasant surprises. After winning just one game last fall, the Monarchs enter West Catholic Athletic League play undefeated, having outscored Palma, Mountain View and Santa Teresa by a combined 108-14. They have done it behind a defense led by senior Austin Barbeau (eight tackles per game), junior Makoa Sniffen (six tackles per game) and senior Quincy Springs (two interceptions). Senior Wills Towers has thrown for 645 yards and eight TDs. Danny Scudero (13 catches, 256 yards, three TDs) and Ben Kim (13 catches, 231 yards, five TDs) are his primary targets. They’re both seniors. SHC, a reigning state champion, has a noteworthy 13-12 win over Sacred Heart Prep on its resume. But the Fightin’ Irish also lost to Palma 21-8 one week after Mitty beat the Salinas school 29-7. RL Miller (12 catches, 294 yards, two TDs) and Jerry Mixon Jr. (11 catches, 130 yards) lead SHC in receiving. Mixon has also rushed for 156 yards and a TD. Kendric Sanders leads SHC in rushing with 174 yards and a TD. — Darren Sabedra
Thursday, Sept. 22
Leland at Westmont, 7 p.m.
Santa Teresa at Overfelt, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 23
Amador Valley at Foothill, 7 p.m.
Castro Valley at Berkeley, 7 p.m.
Monte Vista at Campolindo, 7 p.m.
Arroyo at Concord, 7 p.m.
Dougherty Valley at Deer Valley, 7 p.m.
Dublin vs. American at Washington-Fremont, 7 p.m.
Encinal vs. Alameda at Thompson Field in Alameda, 7 p.m.
Heritage at James Logan, 7 p.m.
Kennedy-Richmond vs. Healdsburg at Rec Park in Healdsburg, 7 p.m.
Las Lomas at De Anza, 7 p.m.
Marin Catholic at Antioch, 7 p.m.
Mt. Eden at Miramonte, 7 p.m.
College Park at Northgate, 7 p.m.
Alhambra at Pinole Valley, 7 p.m.
Salesian at Vallejo, 7 p.m.
San Leandro at Granada, 7 p.m.
Mt. Diablo at San Lorenzo, 3:30 p.m.
San Ramon Valley at Liberty, 7 p.m.
St. Mary’s-Berkeley at Piedmont, 7 p.m.
El Camino at Lynbrook, 7 p.m.
Mills at Saratoga, 7 p.m.
Monta Vista at Woodside, 7 p.m.
BVAL Santa Teresa-Foothill
Silver Creek at Branham, 7 p.m.
BVAL West Valley
Del Mar at Hill, 7 p.m.
Lick at Mt. Pleasant, 7 p.m.
San Jose at Willow Glen, 7 p.m.
Yerba Buena at Evergreen Valley, 7 p.m.
Mitty vs. Sacred Heart Cathedral at Kezar Stadium, 7 p.m.
Serra at St. Francis, 7 p.m.
St. Ignatius vs. Bellarmine at San Jose City College, 7 p.m.
Riordan at Valley Christian, 7 p.m.
Lincoln-San Jose at Gunderson, 7 p.m.
Sobrato at Live Oak, 7 p.m.
Los Gatos at Sacred Heart Prep, 4 p.m.
Oak Grove at Prospect, 7 p.m.
Menlo-Atherton at Wilcox, 7 p.m.
Castlemont vs. Bishop O’Dowd at McClymonds, 7 p.m.
Bradshaw Christian at Ygnacio Valley, 7 p.m.
Folsom at De La Salle, 7 p.m.
El Cerrito at Vacaville, 7:30 p.m.
Eastlake-Chula Vista at Freedom, 7 p.m.
Fremont-Oakland at Hayward, 7 p.m.
Galileo at Richmond, 7 p.m.
Balboa at Livermore, 7:30 p.m.
Skyline at Moreau Catholic, 7 p.m.
Rodriguez-Fairfield at Benicia, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 24
Hercules at Berean Christian, 1:30 p.m.
Newark Memorial at Washington-Fremont, 7 p.m.
Tennyson at Oakland Tech, 7 p.m.
South San Francisco at Fremont-Sunnyvale, 2 p.m.
Christopher at Leigh, 7 p.m.
Palo Alto at Menlo School, 2 p.m.
How to report results/game details
We encourage Bay Area coaches or team statisticians to email the final score and key scoring plays (a few stats, if you have them) to [email protected] right after each game. Please include the school names in the subject line.
Look here as the Bay Area News Group’s Darren Sabedra and Joseph Dycus and correspondent Mike Lefkow make their weekly predictions.