Monday Morning Lights: It’s section championship week. What are the storylines?

Section championship week has arrived in the Bay Area.

By Saturday night, champions will be crowned in multiple divisions, trophies will be hoisted, tears will be shed and the winners will set their sights on upcoming regional games.

As always, there are many storylines throughout the region.

Here are the best:

Pittsburg vs. Clayton Valley: QB1 vs. QB2

Victor Galli has won one North Coast Section championship in 21 years as Pittsburg’s coach. The treasured moment happened last season when backup quarterback Christian Aguilar, substituting for injured starter Jaden Rashada, threw three touchdown passes to propel the Pirates to a 28-14 victory over Clayton Valley in the section’s Division I final.

Aguilar transferred to Clayton Valley shortly after the season and has guided the Ugly Eagles back to the Division I title game.

And as fate would have it, the senior will face Rashada — a Florida commit — and Pittsburg for the championship on Friday night at Heritage High.

Adding to the drama will be the possibility that this could be Galli’s last game as Pittsburg’s coach. He announced this month that he will step down at the end of the season.

Friday night, after his team’s 30-23 loss to De La Salle in the NCS Open Division title game, Galli addressed the matchup against Clayton Valley.

“It’s kind of ironic that we’re playing against the quarterback that was under our center last year,” Galli said. “He’s a good player. We love him. Last year, he would have started for 80% of the teams that were out there. I understood for him why he did it. We miss him. I am rooting for him.

“I hope he does well. Obviously, not next week. But I am glad he’s had a good season and I hope that he has an opportunity to play at the next level. I think that he should. It’ll be fun.”

— Darren Sabedra

Serra vs. Mitty: Unlikeliest of matchups

Saturday, before his team’s semifinal rout of Salinas, Serra coach Patrick Walsh reached out to Mitty coach Danny Sullivan to congratulate him.

Last year, Mitty won one game.

Friday night, the Monarchs continued what will go down as one of the Central Coast Section’s most stunning turnarounds, rallying from 15 points behind in the final five minutes to shock St. Francis in overtime, 42-41.

Instead of matching Xs and Os with St. Francis’ Greg Calcagno for the second consecutive year in the CCS Division I final, Walsh will face another West Catholic Athletic League opponent, Sullivan-led Mitty, on Friday night at San Jose City College.

“I actually called Danny this morning and I just said, ‘Bravo, man,’” Walsh said. “What an amazing turnaround. Of course, he deflected and said it’s all the kids. I said, ‘Hey, whoa, whoa, whoa, there’s some leadership there, too. You and your coaching staff have done a great job.’

“There’s another team coming in with a high belief system that we’re going to have to deal with. We’re all friends in this league. I have a ton of respect for Danny and everyone that I coach with in the WCAL. While I feel for coach Calcagno — that’s a really tough loss — I am proud of coach Sullivan.”

— Darren Sabedra

Mitty rewind: How Monarchs reached Division I final

In the immediate aftermath of their stunning win over St. Francis, Mitty players gathered around Sullivan on their sideline.

But instead of the usual postgame talk, Sullivan just told his team to turn, look at their crowd of supporters and go celebrate with them.

It was quite the moment for a Mitty program that’s come a long way since Sullivan stepped in as head coach in the middle of the pandemic. And when football was delayed from the fall of 2020 to the spring of 2021, the Monarchs had such roster issues that they brought up their entire sophomore class to varsity.

Those 31 kids won one game in the two 2021 seasons, going a combined 1-12.

Now, as seniors? They’re one win from a CCS championship.

“It just goes to show how much they love each other,” Sullivan said. “How much they’ve embraced every moment — (trailing) 35-20 to a team and a school like St. Francis who’s well-coached and has great kids … and they find a way.

“What a special group. I could go on all day.”

Perhaps most impressive was how Mitty scored six touchdowns on the night without standout Danny Scudero tallying one. Now, Scudero made his mark, catching nine passes for 116 yards and hauling in the game-tying two-point conversion late in the fourth.

But after having Scudero account for 40% of Mitty’s touchdowns (17 of 42) entering Friday, scoring six without him having one is an encouraging sign.

“It’s a testament to our depth,” said senior Charlie Butler, who caught two touchdown passes. “Scudero, he does a ton for us. But we’ve just got dudes, at the end of the day. We’ve got dudes who can make plays and do everything.”

And now, improbably, the Monarchs will get to do something every high school team strives to do: have football practice on Thanksgiving Day.

“The ability to go that far in a playoff is insane,” Scudero said. “We’re a team that just keeps going. I’m just happy that we get to do it.”

— Alex Simon

SRV vs. Campo: They meet again, this time in final

Most Campolindo players were still breathing heavily from their exhausting 42-41 win over Rancho Cotate when coach Kevin Macy directed the team’s focus to its next opponent.

He exclaimed that last year’s 17-14 semifinal win against San Ramon Valley was one of the most incredible of his career and that the Cougars have a chance to do it again when the teams meet Friday night at Dublin High for the NCS Division II championship.

“Our game last year, all of our coaches know that if you played that game 20 times, we’d win once,” Macy said in a postgame interview. “Last year, we caught San Ramon Valley flat-footed, and that’s not going to happen again this year.”

Campolindo’s defense was run ragged by a Rancho Cotate spread attack that stretched the field horizontally with a variety of option concepts and quick screens. The Cougars’ next opponent is just as clinical but likes to utilize junior quarterback Luke Baker’s rocket arm to throw strikes downfield. Baker has thrown for 40 touchdowns and 3,310 yards this season.

“We have a big week coming up, and I think they’re going to go shot-for-shot with us, just like it was in this game,” Campolindo senior receiver Lucas Concepcion said.

San Ramon Valley is far from a one-dimensional air show, as the team showed in its 42-13 drubbing of Foothill in the semifinal. Tailbacks John Pau Mendoza and Nick Rivera combined for 284 rushing yards.

“We definitely had getting back to the title game in the back of our minds,” Rivera told the Bay Area News Group’s Jerry McDonald on Friday. “This is a team we thought could go all the way.”

Campo receiver Tim Daugherty anticipates the final to be similar to the Rancho Cotate game.

“We’re probably gonna play them a lot like this team since they have good receivers and a great quarterback,” said Daugherty, who torched a Rancho defender in single coverage to score the winning touchdown. “We’ve got to work really hard in practice over this Thanksgiving week.”

— Joseph Dycus

De La Salle rewind: Is Folsom next?

As the NCS Open champion, De La Salle will have this weekend off. The Spartans will find out their next opponent when the California Interscholastic Federation announces the regional matchups Sunday.

If they get their wish, it’ll be another game against Folsom.

Mind you, the Sac-Joaquin Section powerhouse has not yet qualified. It has to beat Oak Ridge in the SJS Division I final Friday to advance.

But if it does, De La Salle would love the chance to avenge consecutive losses to Folsom, one in September, the other in a regional last season, both on DLS’s home field.

“Yes, of course,” De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh said when asked about a potential rematch against the Sacramento-area school. “That’s not a disrespect to Folsom. They wanted to play us last year. Yeah, of course. There is no doubt.”

If the CIF makes it happen, there is no doubt the game would be on Folsom’s blue turf, where DLS won during the regular season in 2019 and 2021.

— Darren Sabedra

St. Francis rewind: A star is born

Even as his Mitty celebrated its epic victory Friday night, the best player on the field in Mountain View had Sullivan dreading the future.

“We have two more years of that? My god,” Sullivan said.

“That” is Lancer sophomore Kingston Keanaaina, who tied a St. Francis school record with five rushing touchdowns on a 28-carry, 186-yard night on the ground.

“He’s pretty good,” St. Francis coach Greg Calcagno said matter-of-factly before adding, “And the guys up front blocked really well for him.”

Kingston agreed: “It was just open holes and I hit it. Coach called the plays and I knew the O-line (was) going to work for me every single play, so it’s really the lineman and just the team. We came together, we knew the weaknesses and we just hit it.”

It’s the final performance in one of the more remarkable four-week stretches any Lancer sophomore has ever had. After battling injuries and playing sporadically early behind his brother, senior Keala, Kingston became the primary running back on Senior Night against Bellarmine. And look at the numbers:

— Oct. 28 vs. Bellarmine: 21 carries, 88 yards, 2 TDs

— Nov. 4 vs. Mitty at Foothill College: 27 carries, 193 yards, 2 TDs

— Nov. 11 vs. Sacred Heart Cathedral: 33 carries, 162 yards, 1 TD

— Nov. 18 vs. Mitty: 28 carries, 186 yards, 5 TDs

The total numbers for those four games? Ten touchdowns on 109 carries for 629 yards — an average of 5.8 yards per attempt.

Numbers like that could convince anyone that Kingston is going to be special. Even the older brother who’s starting running back job he usurped.

“He’s one of the hardest workers I know,” Keala said of his little brother. “He’s obviously the future of St. Francis. For the next two years, he’s going to help carry the load and I think he’s going to be a bright star. All of the hard work he’s put in is starting to pay off.”

— Alex Simon

St. Mary’s-Berkeley rewind: Season, not culture, ends

In recent seasons, a loss on the football field would have been predictable and perhaps even an accepted result at St. Mary’s. The Panthers went 8-16 the past three seasons and had not finished with a winning record since 2015.

“We were just a bunch of losers back then, to be honest,” senior linebacker Kyle Goree said. “There was no swag to the team, no attitude, nothing. We were just a bunch of people with our heads down.”

Those days might be long gone.

St. Mary’s undefeated season ended Saturday when the top-seeded Panthers lost at home to Pinole Valley 20-7 in the semifinals of the NCS Division VI playoffs.

Afterward, first-year coach John Trotman said this season was just the start for his program, not the peak.

St. Mary’s finished 11-1.

“The senior class did their job of changing the culture forever,” Trotman said. “They set the bar high, and the next group knows we have championship aspirations here now.”

— Joseph Dycus

Closing points: Section championship week

— Serra is 7-0 in CCS title games, including 6-0 under Walsh and 2-0 against Mitty.

— Four of the six WCAL teams that qualified for the CCS playoffs have reached a final — Serra and Mitty in Division I and Bellarmine and St. Ignatius in Division II.

— When the CCS Division IV final ends Saturday at San Jose City College, one team will celebrate its first section crown. Branham and Santa Teresa are each 0-1 in CCS finals.

— Branham lost to Milpitas 27-26 in the Division IV final in 2019. Santa Teresa fell to Live Oak 38-15 in the 1-4A final in 1987.

— Miramonte will be aiming for its 10th NCS title and first since 2013 when it plays top seed San Marin in the NCS Division V final on Friday at Rancho Cotate High.

— One year after beating Hollister 45-35 in a thrilling CCS Division II semifinal, Menlo will meet the Haybalers again, this time for the section’s Division III title on Saturday at Rabobank Stadium in Salinas.

— All section champions qualify for a CIF regional.

— Darren Sabedra

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