Monday Morning Lights: De La Salle-SRV rewind, early look at Serra vs. Riordan

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For a big game to exceed the hype, a lot has to happen.

Friday, a lot happened.

De La Salle, playing on the road in Danville, survived San Ramon Valley’s incredible late-game rally from 15 points behind to win 33-27 in overtime.

The Spartans’ 32-year unbeaten streak against North Coast Section opponents moved on. Barely.

They are 265-0-1 against teams within their section since losing to Pittsburg in 1991, with Clayton Valley (tie, 2004) and San Ramon Valley (28-27 in 2016, OT on Friday) being the closest calls.

Here are our takeaways:

Playoff picture: When the game finally ended with DLS running back Derrick Blanche scoring on a 6-yard run in overtime, it was impossible not to think about a rematch in the NCS playoffs next month.

But will that even materialize?

The top two seeds in the NCS Open/Division I bracket are expected to meet for the Open Division championship in the second week of the playoffs, with the winner advancing to a regional and the loser playing for the Division I title (and a second regional berth) in the third week of the playoffs.

Even with the loss on Friday, SRV has a strong case for the No. 2 seed over Pittsburg, which is undefeated but still ranked behind SRV in the latest state computer ratings (Pitt is 30, SRV 21).

When the season ends, SRV and Pittsburg will have two common opponents: California and Liberty.

Pittsburg beat California 38-35. SRV crushed Liberty 66-12. Pittsburg visits Liberty on Oct. 27. SRV travels to California on Friday.

DLS’s defensive line: SRV’s Luke Baker probably needed an ice bath as he left the field, the star quarterback absorbing the brunt of the blows applied by DLS linemen Chris Biller and Matthew Johnson.

The Spartans’ pressure forced Baker to run (which he did a lot) or take a big hit (which happened quite a bit, too).

“Seems like I was running every play,” Baker said. “Body is not feeling great right now.”

Biller finished with three sacks and three tackles for loss. Johnson had 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. Colton Seastrand added 11 tackles (seven solo), a half sack and recovered a fumble.

“I thought our defense did a great job until midway through that fourth quarter,” DLS coach Justin Alumbaugh said before adding about Baker, “He was able to break some contains and scramble through the middle and keep his team alive. That showed a lot of guts. There is no doubt.”

Four-star standout delivers: It was easy to see why SRV junior linebacker/receiver Marco Jones has offers from many of college football’s biggest names (Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame among them).

The guy was everywhere on Friday.

He had 11 tackles (six solo), four tackles for loss, one sack and forced a fumble as De La Salle was threatening to score inside the SRV 10.

He also caught six passes for 57 yards, including a 21-yard TD reception in the back corner of the end zone to give the Wolves a 12-7 advantage going to the fourth quarter.

“We definitely want to see them again in the playoffs,” Jones said. “It will be another good game, I think. Hopefully, we get the outcome that we want then and we can compete for another state championship this year. This doesn’t define the whole season. It’s just one loss. We’ve just got to forget about it and move on to the next week.”

Stay in your seats: When DLS quarterback Toa Faavae scored to stretch the Spartans’ lead to 27-12 with 5:08 left, spectators in the jam-packed stands on the SRV side started to clear out, including a good portion of the pink-clad student section.

All they missed was the breathtaking finish.

“I don’t know what happened,” Baker said. “I was expecting them to stay till the end.”

Added Jones, “We kept our spirits high. We don’t really worry about the stands. We’re not playing the stands. We’re playing in a football game. We just got in there and kept competing, playing until that last whistle blows.”

Numbers breakdown: DLS won the turnover battle 4-2. The Spartans lost two fumbles. SRV had three interceptions (including a deflected pick-six and one inside the 10) and lost a fumble. … DLS had 12 penalties for 122 yards. SRV was flagged nine times for 58 yards. … SRV ran 75 plays for 385 yards. DLS gained 316 yards in 56 plays.

— Darren Sabedra


Serra has dominated the West Catholic Athletic League for the past two years, winning 14 consecutive games against teams in its league — 13 by double-digits, 11 in the regular season, three in the playoffs.

The Padres have outscored four WCAL opponents this season 202-33. Before that, they outscored their three non-league opponents — Folsom, De La Salle, Central Catholic-Modesto — 87-21.

But if there is a team in the WCAL that might have a chance this season to keep pace against the San Mateo powerhouse, it’s talent-laden Archbishop Riordan.

The teams, both undefeated in league play, meet Saturday at Serra.

“We’re going to prepare for it like any other week, and work our butts off in practice,” Riordan quarterback Mike Mitchell said. “They run a great program. They have a lot of ballers on that team, and we’re excited to play them.”

Riordan, its roster upgraded in the offseason with high-profile transfers, boasts a massive offensive line. Sheldon-Sacramento transfer Tommy Tofi is 6-foot-7 and 330 pounds, and Mater Dei-Santa Ana transfer Peter Langi is even larger (350 pounds) and has flourished since becoming eligible at midseason.

The San Francisco school’s wide receiver corps is an embarrassment of riches. Foothill transfer Chris Lawson is a four-star prospect, and Tyrone Jackson, Cynai Thomas and Judge Nash would be No. 1 options on almost any other team in the Bay Area.

But the chances that the new kids on the block can lead Riordan to its first victory over Serra since a 66-45 win eight years ago seem slim.

For all of Riordan’s high-end talent, it hasn’t translated into Serra’s level of dominance.

Riordan, lacking the depth the Padres utilize to grind down opponents, has won its four WCAL games by an average of 15 points.

After his team outlasted Archbishop Mitty 56-42 on Saturday, an opponent Serra shut out 42-0 a week earlier, Riordan coach Adhir Ravipati acknowledged depth might be an issue.

“We’re pretty banged up, so we’ll see who we’ve got and we’ll give it our best swing,” Ravipati said. “I know the kids will do the work they need to do this week to get ready for that.”’s computer projects Serra to win 49-21.

— Joseph Dycus


Beginning Friday and continuing for the remainder of the regular season, the four high schools in the Acalanes Unified District – Acalanes, Campolindo, Las Lomas, Miramonte – will only play each other.

What makes this arrangement so juicy is that all four teams have 3-0 records in the Diablo Athletic League Foothill Division.

That’s right! They’re all tied for first!

Enjoy it. If the speculation making the rounds is true, it won’t happen again, at least in the near future. Clayton Valley Charter’s football program is returning from the East Bay Athletic League to the DAL, where the rest of the school’s athletic programs participate. The Ugly Eagles were switched from the DAL Foothill to the EBAL Mountain in 2019.

One proposal, according to sources, is that the DAL will then be divided into three divisions, one more division than exists now. It’s not likely the four Acalanes schools would be kept together.

Regardless of what happens in 2024, the next three weeks should be entertaining if you follow the Lamorinda schools. The four teams are a combined 22-4-1. No one would have predicted that before the season. Acalanes looked like the best team on paper with two veteran quarterbacks and a loaded receiver room. Campo, Las Lomas and Miramonte were young.

All four schools should make the NCS playoffs, in different divisions. That’s another story. It’s also possible a couple of teams will still be tied for first when this three-week excursion ends. No matter. Given that all four schools are in the same district, it should be a heckuva block party.

— Mike Lefkow


Another great weekend of high school football is in the books. But not every detail could be consumed. So with your Monday morning coffee, here are some of the highlights:

Palo Alto: The Vikings hadn’t scored in 13 quarters. The Vikings had been blanked in three straight games by Los Gatos, Menlo-Atherton and Menlo School. They finally had enough on Friday and took it out on Half Moon Bay, scoring nine touchdowns in a 61-23 rout of the Cougars. Only RB Jeremiah Madrigal scored more than one TD. He caught a 25-yard screen from QB Declan Packer in the second quarter, then ran 85 yards for another six in the third period. Packer threw four TD passes.

Heritage: The Patriots, who had lost four of five, pounded Deer Valley 50-14. Mekhi Adanandus rushed for 204 yards and a touchdown. QB Phillip Babbitt completed four passes, with three going for six points. Chiemezie Nomeh set a school record with a 47-yard field goal. The Patriots (3-4, 1-1 BVAL) might still need help to reach the NCS D-II playoffs. Two of their last three games are at Pittsburg and Liberty.

Oak Grove: The Eagles (3-4, 1-1 BVAL Mt. Hamilton) got 196 yards on 27 carries and two TDs from Aidan Cisneros in a 22-7 win over Lincoln-San Jose. Akino McGee added 65 yards on three carries, 30 yards on two catches and a TD. He and Shamar Mathews had interceptions and Isaac Achica finished with five tackles for loss.

Tennyson: The Lancers (2-5, 1-1 MVAL/WACC Foothill) rushed for almost 300 yards in a 22-18 win over San Leandro. Montell Rice had 110 yards and a touchdown, and Lamont McDonald ran for 103 yards. He also scored the winning touchdown, then ran in the 2-point conversion. Tennyson’s defense was unmovable in the second half with five sacks and eight tackles for loss.

Gunderson: QB Andrew Fernandez threw six touchdown passes in a 56-14 drubbing of Lick. Four of those TDs went to Marquise Hall, who totaled five catches for 151 yards. The Grizzlies are 3-1 since starting the season 0-3. They are a game behind Prospect and Del Mar in the BVAL West Valley standings. Gunderson has already lost to Prospect but has yet to play Del Mar. Because the West Valley Division gets only one automatic berth in the CCS playoffs, Gunderson will likely have to win its division to advance.

Concord: Rolled past Ygnacio Valley 32-6 to improve to 3-5, 1-1 DAL Valley. RB Monte Beam ran for two touchdowns and Isaiah Singleton caught a pair of TD passes. The once powerful Wolves (0-8) have now lost 32 in a row dating back to 2019.

Los Altos: The Eagles (3-4, 2-1 PAL El Camino) pulled out a 21-18 win over Santa Clara with the winning score coming with 1:35 left on a 21-yard pass from Noah Beedon to Drew Raffety. Fernando Oceguera scored on a pair of 6-yard runs for the Eagles.

— Mike Lefkow and Glenn Reeves



San Ramon Valley (6-1) at California (5-2), 7 p.m.: SRV cannot afford a letdown against a very solid Grizzlies team.

Menlo School (7-0) at The King’s Academy (4-2), 7 p.m.: First place on the line in the PAL De Anza Division.

Amador Valley (5-2) at Granada (6-2), 7 p.m.: AV quarterback Tristan Tia faces his former school with first place in EBAL Valley riding on the outcome.

Campolindo (5-1-1) at Las Lomas (7-0), 7 p.m.: Campo has won the past 11 games in this series, including 41-21 last season.

Acalanes (4-3) at Miramonte (6-0), 7 p.m.: Acalanes has won four in a row and five of its past six against Miramonte.

Valley Christian (5-2) at St. Francis (4-3), 7 p.m.: Games between these teams are typically tight. This one should be no different.

Overfelt (4-3) at Leigh (5-2), 7 p.m.: Overfelt needs to win this game to stay in BVAL Santa Teresa-Valley race.


Archbishop Riordan (6-1) at Serra (7-0), 1:30 p.m.: Serra has allowed an average of 8.3 points per game against WCAL opponents this season, Riordan 33.5.

Wilcox (5-2) at Sacred Heart Prep (4-3), 2 p.m.: Wilcox would be ill-advised to look ahead to its Oct. 27 showdown against Los Gatos.

Hayward (5-2) at Berkeley (4-3), 2 p.m.: Only teams without a league loss in MVAL/WACC Mission Division play.

— Darren Sabedra

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