Football

Bay Area high school football 2023: Week 13 preview, schedule

Championships will be on the line Friday in the Bay Area’s top two divisions.

Elsewhere, teams will play semifinals in hopes of reaching next week’s section championship games.

The biggest of the games Friday are De La Salle against San Ramon Valley for the North Coast Section Open Division title at Dublin High and Serra facing Wilcox for the Central Coast Section Open Division championship at San Jose City College.

But there should be plenty more drama throughout the Bay Area.

Los Gatos at St. Ignatius in the CCS and California at Pittsburg in the NCS fall into the must-see column, as does Cardinal Newman at Las Lomas and Christopher at Menlo School, the latter four a combined 44-4 on the season.

The Bay Area News Group will have complete coverage throughout. If you have not already, please sign up for a digital subscription. Your contributions keep us going.

Here are this weekend’s top matchups and schedule:

NCS Open/Division I

Open championship game

No. 2 San Ramon Valley (10-1) vs. No. 1 De La Salle (9-2) at Dublin HS, Friday, 7 p.m.: The first game this season between these schools was an all-time classic, won by De La Salle 33-27 in overtime on a walk-off touchdown run by Derrick Blanche. Both teams have not lost since then but San Ramon Valley almost did last week. The Wolves survived in overtime against Campolindo 38-31, but only after the seventh-seeded Cougars erased a 21-0 deficit in the first quarter to take a seven-point lead in the fourth. De La Salle has won 30 consecutive NCS championships and 39 overall. The Spartans have not lost to an NCS opponent in 32 years, improving their record over that span to 269-0-1 with an opening-round victory last week over James Logan. SRV was bumped up to the NCS’s top division this season after winning the section’s Division II championship last year. SRV QB Luke Baker passed for 204 yards and three TDs last month against DLS but was most effective scrambling out of the pocket. Despite being sacked five times, he ran for 179 yards. As he did last week, RB Matthew Garibaldi could take some of the workload from Baker. The junior had a big game rushing and receiving in the win over Campo. The winner Friday advances to a NorCal regional. The runner-up will play California or Pittsburg for the NCS’s D-I title and a second regional berth next week. – Darren Sabedra

Division I semifinal

No. 4 California (7-4) at No. 3 Pittsburg (11-0), Friday, 7 p.m.: The winner will play the De La Salle-San Ramon Valley runner-up for the NCS’s Division I title next week. PIttsburg rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit in its 38-35 regular season victory over California. The Pirates defeated Amador Valley 41-14 in the first round of the playoffs last week as junior quarterback Marley Alcantara threw 44- and 85-yard touchdown passes to Makari Kenion in the second half to pull away from the Pleasanton school. The Pirates defense, led by junior safety Jadyn Hudson and pass rusher Jewelous Walls, has not allowed more than 20 points in any of its last six games. California showed in the first game against Pittsburg that it could score against the Pirates. Quarterback Jayden Macedo and receivers Nick Fox and Chase McGill are capable of putting up points in a hurry. California rallied from a 17-3 deficit in the second quarter against Clayton Valley Charter in the first round. CalPreps.com’s computer predicts Pittsburg to win 34-21. – Joseph Dycus

CCS Open/Division I

Open championship game

No. 7 Wilcox (8-3) vs. No. 1 Serra (11-0) at San Jose City College, Friday, 7 p.m.: Serra is the section’s most dominant team, maybe its most dominant team of all time. The Padres have won all but two games this season by no fewer than 28 points and have outscored opponents 456-91. They beat Folsom and De La Salle to open the year and powered through the West Catholic Athletic League with only one somewhat close call, a 24-13 victory at Valley Christian on Oct. 27. The Padres are aggressive and well-coached on defense – with seniors such as Jabari Mann, Joseph Bey and Danny Niu leading the way – and explosive on offense behind the likes of Oklahoma State-bound quarterback Maealiuaki Smith. Serra has won 10 consecutive CCS playoff games, including a 27-14 victory over Wilcox in 2019. Wilcox reached the Open final by stunning second-seeded St. Francis 52-28 last week. The victory bought the Chargers at least two more games because of the CCS’s new playoff format. The Open Division runner-up now plays for the section’s D-I title the following week. For Wilcox to have any shot to keep the score close against Serra, its veer option will have to be flawless both in yards and time consumption. Last week, Elijah Walker ran for four TDs and scored on a kickoff return. Calpreps.com’s computer says Serra wins 42-12. – Darren Sabedra

Division I semifinal

No. 4 Los Gatos (9-2) at No. 3 St. Ignatius (8-4), Friday, 7 p.m.: Los Gatos “broke the curse” and defeated West Catholic Athletic League opponent in the first round of the playoffs last week with its 28-14 victory over Archbishop Riordan. That was a role reversal from the past two years when the storied South Bay public school lost to Bellarmine and Archbishop Mitty in dramatic finishes. Senior quarterback A.J Minyard, running back Boxer Kopcsak-Yeung and linebacker Henry Masters keyed a 14-0 second half that helped Los Gatos pull away from Riordan. Los Gatos will aim to do it again when it travels to San Francisco to face another WCAL school, St. Ignatius. SI edged out Valley Christian to advance past the first round. Soren Hummel threw a five-yard touchdown pass back over the middle to Monroe Barnum with 7.8 seconds for the winner. Like Los Gatos, St. Ignatius also has an effective running game, keyed by offensive lineman John Mills and running back Jarious Hogan. The winner will advance to play the Serra-Wilcox runner-up for the CCS’s Division I championship next week. CalPreps.com’s computer predicts Los Gatos will win 27-17 in the programs’ first matchup since 2006. – Joseph Dycus

CCS Division II

Semifinals

No. 8 Christopher (10-1) at No. 5 Menlo School (10-1), Saturday, 1 p.m.: Three of the top four seeds in this division are out. Among them were the two teams with the worst records in the eight-team bracket. Menlo sacked unbeaten No. 4 seed Live Oak and Christopher surprised top seed Archbishop Mitty 32-28, rallying from a 28-19 deficit with two touchdowns in the game’s final five minutes. Menlo’s 30-28 triumph over Live Oak was just as dramatic. Andres Gonzalez Combera kicked a 21-yard field goal with three seconds left. Christopher comes into Saturday’s contest against the Knights as the slight favorite, according to the calpreps.com computer. The Cougars do have an edge in marquee talent with explosive receiver Amari Bluford, who began Christopher’s comeback against Mitty with a 95-yard kickoff return. RB William Rizqallah then scored the winning touchdown with 42 seconds to go on a 7-yard run. Bluford and Rizqallah are attracting some college attention, as is MLB Evan Vernon, who has 117 tackles. Junior QB Jaxen Robinson is flying under the radar, but he goes 6-5, 220, and has thrown for 1,871 yards and 20 TDs. Menlo is led by dual-purpose QB Mikey McGrath, who has passed for 1,563 yards and rushed for 641 more. He has accounted for 27 touchdowns. Sophomore Jack Freehill also sees his share of playing time. He has thrown for 790 yards. Both teams slightly favor the pass over the run. Menlo has a trio of solid receivers in Brady Jung, Harry Housser and Nicholas Scacco. Jung is the favorite target with 48 catches for 861 yards. College scouting services are checking him out. David Mhatre, with seven sacks, will need to be kept in check by the Christopher offensive line. – Mike Lefkow  

NCS Division III

Semifinals

No. 3 Cardinal Newman (10-1) at No. 2 Las Lomas (10-1), Friday, 7 p.m.: If Las Lomas coach Doug Longero had been asked in September if his team would be playing Friday night, it’s likely his answer would have been no. The Knights are a young team, with a roster that numbers less than 10 seniors. But the schedule provided time for the Knights to develop. Their first two games were at home. They had to play a non-league contest against eventual Diablo Athletic League Valley champion Alhambra, but the Knights, who are in the DAL Foothill, led 28-7 in the second quarter. The toughest part of the season didn’t occur until back-to-back games against Campolindo and Acalanes last month. The Knights split, with Acalanes handing them their only defeat. Another key for Las Lomas was going 4-0 in games decided by a touchdown or less. Sophomore QB Dylan Thomas has been a big part of Las Lomas’ growth with 1,802 passing yards and 20 touchdowns. Junior WR Roman Mercado has 55 catches for 975 yards and 11 TDs. He also has four interceptions. One senior making a huge contribution is Sava Pourides. He has run for 712 yards and nine scores and also leads the defense with 79 tackles. The Knights struggled past Ukiah 17-7 in the first round of the playoffs while Cardinal Newman walloped American Canyon 49-14. Lately, 5-8 junior Wyatt Knechtle appears to be getting more and more time at quarterback. The key to the offense is 6-4, 200-pound RB Zachary Homan, who has 1,959 yards and 32 touchdowns. He has gone over 100 yards in nine games, including 273 against American Canyon. Cardinal Newman is physical up front, where DE Jesse Myers and NG Kahlio Vaetoe have combined for 15 sacks. – Mike Lefkow  

CCS Division IV

Semifinals

No. 5 Leigh (8-3) at No. 1 Palo Alto (6-5), Friday, 7 p.m.: Palo Alto is seeking its second consecutive appearance in a CCS championship game after routing Seaside 55-21 in the opening round last week. The Vikings won the Division V title last season. Leigh advanced to the semifinals with a 21-20 victory on the road over North Salinas. The Longhorns have not reached a CCS final since 2000. Palo Alto has heated up offensively since a midseason drought in which the Vikings were held scoreless in three consecutive games by Los Gatos, Menlo-Atherton and Menlo School. They have averaged 43.7 points in the past three weeks, all victories. Jeremiah Madrigal ran for four touchdowns and Jason Auzenne added two against Seaside. Leigh qualified for the playoffs in its final regular season game with a win over Westmont. In last week’s victory over North Salinas, Charlie Lyon passed for two TDs and Shayan Shariat ran for one to lead the Longhorns. Leigh and Palo Alto have met just once in the MaxPreps era (2004-present). Palo Alto won 48-0. Calpreps.com’s computer projects it to be much closer this time. It says Palo Alto wins 21-14. – Darren Sabedra

No. 3 Branham (9-2) at No. 2 Mountain View (5-6), Friday, 7 p.m.: The first team to 40 points could win this game featuring two potent offenses. Branham defeated Mountain View 66-45 in a CCS Division IV semifinal last year. Last week, Branham routed Greenfield 41-14 behind another big game from quarterback Jack Lewis. He has thrown for 31 touchdowns and run for another 10 this season. Running back Elias Antillon rushed for a 53-yard touchdown against Greenfield and is also a capable receiver. Branham might need defensive lineman Francis Mone to dominate the line of scrimmage for a second week in a row to beat Mountain View. Arturo Hernandez, a powerful senior running back, rushed for 174 yards and a touchdown in Mountain View’s 49-21 rout against Burlingame last week. Receiver Lex Silver is also a threat. He caught three passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns last week. The winner will play Palo Alto or Leigh for the championship next week. CalPreps has Mountain View winning Friday, 38-35. – Joseph Dycus

NCS Division V

Semifinals

No. 4 Alhambra (8-3) at No. 1 Miramonte (7-3), Friday, 7 p.m.: Alhambra won the DAL Valley with a 4-0 record, outscoring its opponents by an average of 42 points. Miramonte finished fourth in the DAL Foothill, losing by an average of 34 points in its three defeats. So how will this semifinal matchup shake out on Friday night? The calpreps.com computer is picking Miramonte by 13 points. What this game could come down to is how the favored Matadors handle Alhambra QB Beau Blau. The 6-0, 165-pound senior has passed for 1,760 yards, run for 1,237 more and accounted for 42 touchdowns. Contain him, and Miramonte can begin planning ahead for next week. But if Blau is allowed to run free, anything can happen. Bulldogs coach Alan Hern said Blau is beginning to get some attention from the junior colleges and lower division four-year schools. Blau does get some help. Receiver Luke Beatty has 36 catches for 771 yards and 13 touchdowns. Miramonte also has a dual-threat QB in sophomore Carson Blair. He has 1,247 passing yards and has run for 364 yards. His three top receivers won’t be easy for Alhambra to contain. Finn McManus, Jack Quinnild and Andrew Bjornson. all stand at least 6-2, and have caught at least 22 passes for well over 300 yards apiece. Only McManus graduates. Miramonte has won seven in a row and 11 of the last 12 against the Bulldogs dating back to 2010. None of those games were decided by less than two touchdowns. – Mike Lefkow 

Schedule

Central Coast Section

Open/Division I

Open championship game

No. 7 Wilcox (8-3) vs. No. 1 Serra (11-0) at San Jose City College, Friday, 7 p.m.

Division I semifinal

No. 4 Los Gatos (9-2) at No. 3 St. Ignatius (7-4), Friday, 7 p.m.

Note: The first-round winners in the top half of the bracket will play for the Open Division championship in Week 2 of the playoffs. The loser of the Open Division championship will play the winner of the bottom half of the bracket for the Division I championship in Week 3 of the playoffs.

Division II

Semifinals

No. 6 Monterey (8-3) at No. 2 Soquel (9-2), Friday, 7 p.m.

No. 8 Christopher (10-1) at No. 5 Menlo (10-1), Saturday, 1 p.m.

Division III

Semifinals

No. 7 Alisal (10-1) at No. 6 Scotts Valley (10-1), Saturday, time TBA

No. 4 Palma (4-7) at No. 1 Menlo-Atherton (5-6), Friday, 7 p.m.

Division IV

Semifinals

No. 3 Branham (9-2) at No. 2 Mountain View (5-6), Friday, 7 p.m.

No. 5 Leigh (8-3) at No. 1 Palo Alto (6-5), Friday, 7 p.m.

Division V

Semifinals

No. 7 Leland (4-7) at No. 3 South San Francisco (10-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

No. 4 Santa Teresa (5-6) at No. 1 Woodside (7-4), Friday, 7 p.m.

North Coast Section

Open/Division I

Open championship game

No. 2 San Ramon Valley (10-1) vs. No. 1 De La Salle (9-2) at Dublin HS, Friday, 7 p.m.

Division I semifinal

No. 5 California (7-4) at No. 3 Pittsburg (11-0), Friday, 7 p.m.

Note: The first-round winners in the top half of the bracket will play for the Open Division championship in Week 2 of the playoffs. The loser of the Open Division championship will play the winner of the bottom half of the bracket for the Division I championship in Week 3 of the playoffs.

Division II

Semifinals 

No. 5 Heritage (5-6) at No. 1 El Cerrito (9-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

No. 6 Rancho Cotate (7-4) at No. 2 Windsor (8-1-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

Division III

Semifinals

No. 5 Tamalpais (8-3) at Marin Catholic (10-1), Saturday, 1 p.m.

No. 3 Cardinal Newman (10-1) at No. 2 Las Lomas (10-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

Division IV

Semifinals

No. 4 Maria Carrillo (6-5) at No. 1 San Marin (11-0), Friday, 7 p.m.

No. 3 Vallejo (8-3) at No. 2 Acalanes (7-4), Friday, 7 p.m.

Division V

Semifinals

No. 4 Alhambra (8-3) at No. 1 Miramonte (7-3), Friday, 7 p.m.

No. 3 Analy (7-4) at No. 2 St. Bernard’s (8-3), Saturday, 1 p.m.

Division VI

Semifinals

No. 4 Fortuna (8-3) at No. 1 St. Vincent de Paul (9-2), Saturday, 1 p.m.

No. 3 Salesian (9-2) at No. 2 Moreau Catholic (6-5), Friday, 7 p.m.

Division VII

Semifinals

No. 5 Ferndale (7-4) at No. 1 Clear Lake (9-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

No. 3 Kelseyville (8-3) at No. 2 Willits (8-3), Friday, 7 p.m.

Oakland Section

Semifinal

Oakland Tech (5-5) at Castlemont (6-4), Friday, 7 p.m.

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