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Monday Morning Lights: What’s at stake in league races across the Bay Area

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LEAGUE RACES: WHAT’S ON THE LINE

With two weeks left in the regular season, many leagues in the Bay Area News Group’s coverage area are still up for grabs.

Here is where things stand:

South Bay/Peninsula

WEST CATHOLIC: Serra is the best team in Northern California and has beaten its two closest pursuers in the WCAL standings, St. Francis and Archbishop Riordan, by wide margins. Riordan visits St. Francis on Friday for second place, plus the likely No. 2 seed in the Central Coast Section Open/Division I playoffs behind Serra. Four WCAL teams automatically advance to CCS, but two others should be among the five at-large teams that will qualify.

PAL BAY: Los Gatos and Wilcox have separated themselves from the pack, both undefeated in division play. They will meet Friday night at Wilcox for the division championship. Five of the division’s six teams automatically qualify for the CCS playoffs. They will be Los Gatos, Wilcox, Sacred Heart Prep, Menlo-Atherton and Burlingame.

PAL DE ANZA: Three De Anza teams receive automatic CCS playoff spots. Menlo School has clinched the division championship. Hillsdale and The King’s Academy have the inside track to join Menlo. But Palo Alto, which plays host to TKA on Nov. 2, is not eliminated.

PAL OCEAN: Aragon holds a one-game lead over Capuchino. The teams play on Thursday at Aragon to close out the division schedule. If Cap wins, they tie for first and receive the Ocean’s two CCS bids. If Aragon wins, Cap will finish tied for second with Sequoia or San Mateo. Cap lost to Sequoia and beat San Mateo.

PAL EL CAMINO: With two automatic CCS spots, the picture here is still fuzzy. Woodside, Fremont-Sunnyvale and Los Altos are 3-1 in division play. Carlmont is 2-2. They all finish division play on Friday as Woodside travels to Los Altos and Carlmont plays host to Fremont.

PAL LAKE: South San Francisco will receive the division’s one CCS spot, having beaten both teams that sit one game back in the standings.

BVAL MT. HAMILTON: Christopher and Live Oak are both undefeated. They will play on Nov. 3 for the division championship. Santa Teresa, Leland and Oak Grove are still alive for the division’s other two automatic CCS spots.

BVAL SANTA TERESA-FOOTHILL: The teams without a loss within the division, Branham and Silver Creek, play on Friday night at Silver Creek. If Branham wins, it will finish first. If Silver Creek wins, it could have to beat Independence on Nov. 2 to avoid a possible three-way tie atop the standings. Only two ST-Foothill teams automatically advance to CCS.

BVAL SANTA TERESA-VALLEY: Leigh leads the division by one game over Westmont and Sobrato. Leigh visits Sobrato on Saturday and Westmont on Nov. 3. The ST-Valley has two automatic CCS spots.

BVAL WEST VALLEY: The division’s one automatic berth into CCS has not been decided. Del Mar and Prospect are 5-0 in West Valley play, one game ahead of Gunderson. Del Mar visits Gunderson on Thursday and Prospect on Nov. 3.

East Bay

EBAL MOUNTAIN: In the North Coast Section, only league champions automatically qualify for the playoffs. Everyone else is an at-large team. De La Salle will receive the Mountain’s AQ. The Spartans don’t play a complete league schedule but are granted the AQ and fewer league games so the other five teams in the division can play for a league title. Strange? Yes. But so is one team (DLS) going undefeated (266-0-1) within the section for 32 consecutive years. San Ramon Valley is on its way to finishing first among the rest of the Mountain teams. Sidenote: Had SRV beaten DLS two weeks ago, it would have received the Mountain’s AQ.

EBAL VALLEY: Amador Valley, which routed second-place Granada on Friday, will finish first.

DAL FOOTHILL: This race remains up for grabs. Acalanes and Las Lomas are both 4-0 in the division, one game ahead of Campolindo and Miramonte. Acalanes visits Las Lomas on Friday and plays host to Campo on Nov. 3. Las Lomas closes at Miramonte on Nov. 3.

DAL VALLEY: Alhambra has clinched the championship, outscoring its four division opponents 228-61.

BAY VALLEY: Pittsburg and Liberty are both 3-0 in the league, one game ahead of Antioch. Pittsburg travels to Liberty on Friday and will be at home to face Antioch on Nov. 4.

MVAL/WACC FOOTHILL: Bishop O’Dowd and James Logan are tied for first place. They will meet on Friday at James Logan.

MVAL/WACC MISSION: Berkeley edged Hayward in overtime on Saturday in a first-place showdown. With two games left, the Yellowjackets lead Hayward, Washington-Fremont and Irvington by one game.

MVAL/WACC SHORELINE: Piedmont, Kennedy-Fremont and Newark Memorial share the lead with 3-1 records. Piedmont beat Kennedy on Friday and travels to Newark Memorial on Nov. 3.

TCAL ROCK: El Cerrito and Salesian are both undefeated in division play. They will meet to finish the season on Nov. 4 at Salesian.

TCAL STONE: Vallejo is the only team here without a division loss. The Redhawks visit St. Patrick-St. Vincent on Friday and Richmond on Nov. 3.

— Darren Sabedra

RIORDAN: SERRA GAME A LEARNING EXPERIENCE

Serra's Marley Alapati (8) scores a touchdown against Archbishop Riordan in the second quarter of a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)Serra’s Marley Alapati (8) scores a touchdown against Archbishop Riordan in the second quarter of a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

Archbishop Riordan, playing in its biggest game in years, was no match for Serra on Saturday in a 53-7 loss.

With the benefit of hindsight, the result wasn’t all that surprising.

Only two of Riordan’s starters are seniors, with just one being on an offensive line that was pushed around by a more experienced front seven. 

None of the players had experienced a game with Saturday’s stakes. Both teams were undefeated in WCAL play. 

“I think our youth showed, and that’s on us as coaches since we didn’t have our guys ready to play,” Riordan coach Adhir Ravipati said. “I’m hoping that this will be a good learning experience for our guys.”

A rematch is possible in the CCS playoffs. But will the result be any different?

— Joseph Dycus

SERRA: PLAYING UNDER CONTROL

Sometimes in big games, especially against an opponent on the rise, teams lose their cool. Not Serra on Saturday against Riordan. The Padres played hard — very hard — but were under control.

That was big, longtime Serra coach Patrick Walsh said.

“It’s been the message for a long time,” Walsh added. “Like in rivalry games, there is always heat. There’s passion. There’s energy. There’s enthusiasm. I respect Riordan for that. I’m glad that they brought that. I’m glad that this is a rivalry game for us.

“I’m proud of coach Adhir and their effort in San Francisco to be a great program. They’re young. We’re probably going to see them again. It will probably be different. If we don’t see them this year, we’re going to see them every year.

“But for us, it’s a constant focus on self-improvement. It’s a constant focus on loving one another. It’s a constant effort, a meticulous effort to iron out all the details to be the best we can be on every given day. And again I’m going to say this because I have to, we have a 3.6 (team) GPA. That blows my mind.”

— Darren Sabedra

SILVER CREEK: SINATRA HELPS THE UNHOUSED

Silver Creek High quarterback Trajan Sinatra (6) throws a pass in the fourth quarter of their football game against Piedmont Hills High in San Jose, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)Silver Creek quarterback Trajan Sinatra throws a pass against Piedmont Hills on Sept. 15, 2023. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group) 

When Trajan Sinatra kicked four extra points in Silver Creek’s 28-7 victory over Gilroy on Thursday, he wasn’t just helping Silver Creek’s chances of winning.

Sinatra also did his part to help the homeless.

For every point he scores, Sinatra is donating $100 to LifeMoves, an organization that helps homeless individuals and families find housing.

Sinatra has donated $3,800 so far, with the Silver Creek star saying that his stepfather is making a large donation on his behalf. 

“It’s important to me because about 1 in 10 of our homeless are veterans,” Sinatra told the Bay Area News Group on Saturday night. “My stepfather served in the Air Force and we have a family history of military service. I want to help every homeless veteran get off the streets.”

— Joseph Dycus

SRV: HOW WOLVES BOUNCED BACK FROM DLS LOSS

Before his team’s 14-0 victory at California on Friday, San Ramon Valley coach Aaron Becker wondered how his team would respond. A week earlier, the Wolves staged a dramatic rally in the closing minutes but lost to De La Salle 33-27 in overtime.

“It was hard to judge where their mind was going to be at and how they were going to play until they got out there,” Becker said.

It wasn’t easy, but the Wolves found a way to dispatch Cal High.

“I wouldn’t say we did anything different,” quarterback Luke Baker said. “We prepared like every other week.”

— Joseph Dycus

DE LA SALLE: OTHERS REMEMBER COACH JACOBY

De La Salle defensive line coach Steve Jacoby coaches as head coach Justin Alumbaugh walks past him during their game at San Ramon Valley High School in Danville, Calif., on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023. Jacoby passed away suddenly last night. This afternoon, De La Salle players voted to play tonight against El Cerrito in his honor. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)De La Salle defensive line coach Steve Jacoby (middle) looks on as head coach Justin Alumbaugh walks past him during a game at San Ramon Valley on Oct. 13, 2023. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

The sudden death of De La Salle defensive line coach Steve Jacoby on Thursday was a shock throughout the Bay Area high school football community.

Before Serra’s home game against Riordan, a moment of silence was held in honor of Jacoby, who had just turned 61.

“I was very tight with Steve on so many levels,” Walsh said. “I did business with him. He was our chief fundraiser. I did business with him through our Next Level flag football. We shared a love for U2 music. We’d sit in the car together. These types of moments remind me that life’s too short. You’ve got to embrace it. Losing a great one, a great soul … he lived life to the fullest. We’re going to miss the hell out of him.”

California coach Danny Calcagno said, “He’s a guy who would give you the shirt off his back. He was just an awesome, awesome guy.”

Added SRV coach Aaron Becker, “Steve was a good friend and a truly kind-hearted person. He will be greatly missed by everyone whose life he touched.”

— Darren Sabedra and Joseph Dycus

DLS: JACOBY’S IMPACT ON FRIDAY’S GAME

A few hours after De La Salle’s emotional 31-12 victory on Friday over El Cerrito, coach Justin Alumbaugh noted over the phone that the strip-sack fumble caused by lineman DJ Asiasi and recovered and returned for a touchdown by Drew Cunningham was Jacoby’s scheme.

While studying El Cerrito on Wednesday night during last-minute preparation — the matchup wasn’t scheduled until earlier in the day after both schools had teams cancel on them — Jacoby texted Alumbaugh with a scheme that would create a path to the quarterback.

Alumbaugh used the play on Cunningham’s scoop-and-score.

— Darren Sabedra

PEEK AHEAD TO WEEK 10

Thursday

Capuchino (7-1) at Aragon (7-1), 7 p.m.: Aragon wins the PAL Ocean with a victory.

Friday

Los Gatos (6-2) at Wilcox (6-2), 7 p.m.: The winner will celebrate a PAL Bay title, which includes a likely spot into CCS Open/Division I playoffs.

Archbishop Riordan (6-2)  at St. Francis (5-3), 7 p.m.: The winner should finish second in WCAL play behind Serra.

Acalanes (5-3) at Las Lomas (8-0), 7 p.m.: The winner will claim at least a share of the DAL Foothill title.

Pittsburg (8-0) at Liberty (6-2), 7 p.m.: First place on the line in Bay Valley Athletic League.

Branham (6-2) at Silver Creek (6-2), 7:15 p.m.: Teams are tied for first in BVAL Santa Teresa-Foothill.

— Darren Sabedra

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