Monday Morning Lights: Oh, baby! What a weekend for De La Salle coach & family

Unforgettable weekend for DLS coach, family

Turns out, the excitement for De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh was just starting as his team celebrated an emotional road victory over Folsom on Friday night that moved the Concord school into a state championship game this weekend.

After the bus ride back to De La Salle, Alumbaugh got a text from his wife, Teresita, asking when he’d be home.

Nine months pregnant with the couple’s third child, her back was hurting and needed to be rubbed.

She had stayed home with family as De La Salle made the two-hour trip to the edge of the Sierras and beat Folsom 17-14 for the Northern California Division 1-AA championship.

When Alumbaugh arrived home, he knew it was time to go.

“We packed up a bag, I called my dad and my sister. They were sleeping,” Alumbaugh said. “But my niece thankfully is a teenager. So she was up. She woke up my brother and they came down and we went right to the hospital.”

As Teresita took “a little snooze” while waiting for the delivery, Alumbaugh put on his coach’s cap and started preparing for the next game. The Spartans play for the 1-AA state championship against Lincoln-San Diego on Friday night at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo.

“Our film came up in the middle of the night, so I think I watched our film at like 4 in the morning,” he said. “I took a quick nap and then, at like 6, I was watching Lincoln film.”

After Teresita woke up, Alumbaugh got her some breakfast and spent the rest of the morning focused on her.

At 2:06 p.m. Saturday, the Alumbaughs welcomed daughter Isabel to their family, which includes brother Beni, 4, and sister Isla, 3.

Alumbaugh returned home Saturday evening and went to sleep alongside his older children.

“I crashed,” he said Sunday afternoon. “I woke up a like 5 and queued up some other film this morning and then went back to the hospital. I am at De La Salle right now doing the schedule and then I am going back in about a half hour to take her home.”

Alumbaugh noted that De La Salle gives out an Iron Spartan award at its postseason banquet each year, an honor chosen by the coaches and given to someone who has persevered through injuries.

“Normally it’d be Thompson or Flanagan,” Alumbaugh said, referring to lineman Derek Thompson and tight end/defensive end Cooper Flanagan.

“But everybody’s kind of voting for Teresita to get the Iron Spartan award,” Alumbaugh said with a laugh.

— Darren Sabedra

Santa Teresa: What a ride for San Jose school

Santa Teresa head coach Steve Papin celebrates their 30-20 win over Palo Alto High School in the 2022 CIF State NorCal 6-AA championship game at Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) 

Friday will mark 18 months since Steve Papin announced he was heading to Santa Teresa to be the school’s football coach.

The next day?

The Saints will play host to a state championship game.

It’s been quite the journey for both the coach and the school. Santa Teresa had only reached a Central Coast Section final once since the school was founded in 1974, losing the then I-4A title game to Live Oak in 1987.

Now, the Saints have not just their first football CCS title, but a NorCal crown and get a shot at the school’s first-ever team sport state championship — on their home field.

They play Classical Academy-Escondido for the 6-AA state championship on Saturday night.

“It’s an honor to be able to do that,” said Papin, a former Arena League player with the San Jose SaberCats.

Papin helped turn Independence around in his five seasons there, culminating with a 12-1 year in 2018. He then went to Menlo-Atherton in 2019, but was let go after going 7-4 and winning the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division in his lone season in charge.

After going back to Independence for the COVID-shortened spring 2021 season, he left to take over a Santa Teresa program that hadn’t won more than six games in a season in a decade.

Now, after winning seven games last fall, the Saints have won nine this season and can add a 10th on Saturday.

What has changed under Papin’s guidance?

“He brought in the culture,” do-it-all senior Joshua Reyes said. “He put the finishing touches and we just went with him. And then from there, we just – boom. We already had the rhythm, we already had the brotherhood. And now we’re just playing ball and working our butts off every day.”

No matter the result on Saturday, it will be the final game for this group of seniors, led by Reyes. While that finality brings some sadness to Papin, the chance to win the final game with the group that bought in to him is better than just about anything.

“I love this group, I love what they do,” Papin said. “Saturday is going to be the last time, but what you’re playing for makes it all worthwhile. It makes it genuine. Win or lose, we had a great ride. And these memories these boys are going to take for the rest of their lives — and me as a coach and as a father figure — is something that I’m never going to take for granted.

“There’s going to be a lot of tears shed on Saturday, I promise you that.”

— Alex Simon

San Ramon Valley: The quarterback’s lucky sandwich

San Ramon Valley quarterback Luke Baker eludes a Marin Catholic rusher in the first quarter of their championship playoff game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Danville, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)San Ramon Valley quarterback Luke Baker eludes a Marin Catholic rusher in the first quarter of their championship playoff game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Danville, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

Athletes can be a superstitious bunch, with success often attributed to an array of routines. San Ramon Valley quarterback Luke Baker is a vocal supporter of his teammates and coaches, but he also wryly credited a small bit of his success to his game-day diet.

“I go to Domenico’s Deli in downtown Danville and get a sandwich on what’s called Dutch Crunch bread before games,” Baker said. “It’s got maple turkey and honey mustard, and it’s money.”

After kicker Austin Shelton sliced a game-winning field goal through the rain to beat visiting Marin Catholic 19-17 on Saturday night — a kick that sent the Wolves to the 2-A state championship game this weekend — a teammate jokingly asked Baker if he had eaten his “lucky sandwich” before the thriller.

“When we lost the last time, I didn’t eat the sandwich I usually eat,” Baker explained, referring to a 42-28 loss to Clayton Valley on Oct. 14. “So every other Friday since then, I’ve gotten that sandwich and we haven’t lost yet.”

But with the junior quarterback headed to Mission Viejo for the 2-A state title game on Saturday against Granite Hills-El Cajon, Baker will not be able to eat his lucky meal right before the noon kickoff at Saddleback College.

But the quarterback with 44 touchdown passes knows how to call an audible when presented with a challenge, so Baker has a plan for dealing with his sandwich dilemma.

“Since we play at noon on Saturday, I’ll pick it up before the bus leaves in the morning, and I will eat the sandwich on Friday,” Baker said via text.

— Joseph Dycus

McClymonds: Pass rush rises to occasion

OAKLAND - McClymonds defensive tackle Malik Richardson (61) celebrates after a play. McClymonds and Lemoore played in the high school football 2-AA NorCal championship in Oakland, Calif. on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022 (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group)McClymonds defensive tackle Malik Richardson (61) celebrates after a play on Saturday. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group) 

When Oakland powerhouse McClymonds plays against top competition, its pass rush always raises its level of play.

In three games this season against teams that won NorCal championships, the Warriors had a combined 22 sacks. They had eight against 1-AA winner Pittsburg, four against 2-A champ San Ramon Valley and 10 against 3-A champion Bellarmine.

Saturday, in the 2-AA NorCal title game against Lemoore, Mack finished with six sacks.

Malik Richardson had three, Greg Kenney III bagged two, and Jaysen Cole notched one in the 49-35 win. Richardson, Cole and Joshua Shanklin all have double-digits sacks this season.

McClymonds will play Mater Dei Catholic-Chula Vista at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo on Friday at 4 p.m. for the 2-AA state title.

The Warriors, as always, expect their pass rush to be at its best.

“Don’t shortchange us, and don’t think you’re just gonna run over us,” Richardson said about the next opponent. “We’re going to plan and prepare for you, just like y’all are gonna plan and prepare for us.”

— Joseph Dycus

Weekend rewind: Links to NorCal finals

Pittsburg head coach Victor Galli lifts up the first place plaque after defeating Manteca during the CIF NorCal Division 1-A regional championship game at Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. Pittsburg defeats Manteca 35-14. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)Pittsburg head coach Victor Galli lifts up the first place plaque after defeating Manteca during the CIF NorCal Division 1-A regional championship game at Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. Pittsburg defeats Manteca 35-14. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

DIVISION 1-AA: How De La Salle edged Folsom to return to a state title game

DIVISION 1-A: Pittsburg writes a storybook finish for retiring coach

DIVISION 2-AA: McClymonds sprints to a state final

DIVISION 2-A: Clutch kick sends San Ramon Valley to a state championship game

DIVISION 3-AA: El Cerrito gives up 36 unanswered points in a loss

DIVISION 3-A: Bellarmine builds huge lead, holds off Vanden

DIVISION 4-A: Menlo School’s fourth-quarter rally falls short

DIVISION 6-AA: Santa Teresa scores 13 fourth-quarter points to beat Palo Alto

State championship schedule

Here are the matchups for the seven teams from the Bay Area News Group’s coverage area that will play for state championships this weekend (an eighth team, Pinole Valley, won a state title Saturday):


Serra (13-0) vs. St. John Bosco-Bellflower (12-1) at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Saturday, 8 p.m.


De La Salle (10-3) vs. Lincoln-San Diego (12-1) at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Friday, 8 p.m.


Pittsburg (12-2) vs. Liberty-Bakersfield (12-2) at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Saturday, 4 p.m.


McClymonds (12-1) vs. Mater Dei Catholic-Chula Vista (10-4) at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Friday, 4 p.m.


San Ramon Valley (12-2) vs. Granite Hills-El Cajon (12-2) at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Saturday, 12 p.m.


Laguna Hills (14-1) vs. Bellarmine (8-6) at San Jose City College, Saturday, 6 p.m.


Classical Academy-Escondido (11-3) at Santa Teresa (9-5), Saturday, 6 p.m.

DIVISION 7-AA state championship (Dec. 3)

Pinole Valley 34, Mendota 21

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