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Week 14 football recap: Lincoln wins Turkey Day, St. Ignatius falls in title game

Lincoln running back Ricky Underwood (2) carries the ball during the fourth quarter of the Mustangs' 44-7 win over Balboa in the 98th Turkey Day Game, the Academic Athletic Association football championship at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco on Nov. 24, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

While San Francisco had a pair of state football champions last year, the city has just one representative this season. Lincoln is gunning for a third state championship after a Turkey Day Game win over Balboa, while St. Ignatius’ bid for its first Central Coast Section (CCS) title since 2012 fell just short as the Wildcats lost to Bellarmine. The Standard has thorough coverage of both games, as well as other important local sports action.

CCS Division II Championship: No. 5 Bellarmine Bells 21, No. 2 St. Ignatius Wildcats 14

Bellarmine wide receiver Zayne St. Laurent (9) fights for yards after a reception during the fourth quarter of the Bells' 21-14 win over St. Ignatius in the Central Coast Section Division II Football Championship Game in San Jose on Nov. 26, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

Four turnovers doomed St. Ignatius in a CCS Division II Championship defeat to West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL) rival Bellarmine. A Wildcat fumble gave fifth-seeded Bellarmine (7-6) possession at the SI 32 with 3:50 remaining, setting up Ben Pfaff’s go-ahead touchdown run with 1:01 on the clock. St. Ignatius (6-7) turned the ball over on downs with 20 seconds remaining, sealing the game.

Pierce St. Geme had a 71-yard touchdown less than a minute into the game and added an 80-yard score on a screen pass in the second quarter. He finished with six catches for 164 yards, while quarterback Soren Hummel completed 12 of 24 passes for 273 yards. Pfaff ran 18 times for 133 yards for the Bells, who also got touchdown runs from Nate Escalada and Jake Hanson. Escalada completed 19 of 28 passes for 125 yards, while Jae’Von Reels led Bellarmine’s defense with three sacks and forced a fumble for one of SI’s four turnovers.

98th Turkey Day Game: No. 1 Lincoln Mustangs 44, No. 3 Balboa Buccaneers 7

Lincoln linebacker Vincent Huang (8) celebrates as Xavier Solares (6) returns his second interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Mustangs' 44-7 win over Balboa in the 98th Turkey Day Game, the Academic Athletic Association football championship, at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco on Nov. 24, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

The Mustang defense stole the show in the 98th Turkey Day Game, led by cornerback Xavier Solares’ pair of interception returns for touchdowns. Solares returned the first one 52 yards to give top-seeded Lincoln (9-3) a 14-7 lead in the second quarter, and his 80-yard return in the fourth quarter served as the icing on the cake as the Mustangs won their third Turkey Day Game in the last four seasons and avenged last year’s loss to Balboa. Jaylen Lopez added a 7-yard pick-six on the final play for a third defensive touchdown.

Lincoln has now won the Turkey Day Game 13 times, nine of which have come under head coach Phil Ferrigno. His ninth win makes him the leader among San Francisco football coaches, breaking a tie he previously shared with Milt Axt, who coached Polytechnic in the middle of the 20th century.

Diego Cristerna also starred for the Mustangs, running for a pair of 15-yard touchdowns and recording a game-high 11 tackles. He ran eight times for 70 yards, sharing rushing duties with Ricky Underwood (12 carries-76 yards) and Jamelle Newman (9 carries-61 yards). Quarterback Michael Simmons also scored on a 1-yard sneak.

Edwin Maiava’s 30-yard first-quarter touchdown pass to Nick Wong on fourth down served as the lone score for Balboa (6-6). The Buccaneers got 86 rushing yards on 19 carries from Dontae Allen-Wilson.

Lincoln has received a bye into the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division 7-A Championship Game, to be played in San Francisco on Saturday, Dec. 10. The Mustangs will face the winner of a Southern California final between Crenshaw and Whittier Christian.

CCS Division I Championship: No. 1 Serra Padres 41, No. 6 Mitty Monarchs 14

Serra cornerback Teddy Chung (12) returns an interception during the fourth quarter of the Padres' 41-14 win over the Mitty Monarchs in the Central Coast Section Division I Football Championship in San Jose on Nov. 25, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

The sixth-seeded Monarchs gave the Padres everything they could handle for three quarters before Serra (13-0) cemented its status as the top team in Northern California, scoring three times in the first six minutes of the final period to pull away.

Seamus Gilmartin’s 34-yard reception on the first play of the fourth quarter set Jabari Mann up for a 1-yard touchdown run, and Jaden Green scored on a 9-yard run after sophomore Teddy Chung’s interception. Joseph Latu rounded out the scoring and his 12-carry, 100-yard rushing performance with a 2-yard plunge.

Danny Scudero, who was named the WCAL’s Player of the Year on Monday, turned in another stellar performance for Mitty (9-4), a team that had gone just 1-9 in 2021. He caught six passes for 99 yards, including a 7-yard strike on fourth-and-goal from Wills Towers in the final seconds of the first half to tie the game at 7. He also ran for 24 yards on five carries, with his 3-yard score in the third quarter cutting the Padre lead to six after Charlie Butler’s 65-yard reception from Towers, who completed 23 of 41 passes for 345 yards.

Danny Niu’s 61-yard run out of the double wing formation in the third quarter put Serra ahead for good, and Latu’s first touchdown of the night, a 5-yard run, made it 20-7. Maealiuaki Smith’s 1-yard sneak with 3:57 left in the first quarter gave the Padres a lead that held up until the Towers-to-Scudero connection in the final seconds of the first half.

On Sunday, Serra was unsurprisingly named the CIF Northern California Open Division representative. The Padres will face St. John Bosco-Bellflower at Saddleback Valley College in Orange County on Dec. 10.

Other Bay Area Football Scores

Barry McLaughlin, who served as Sacred Heart Cathedral’s head coach for five seasons, including during the 2021 state championship run, has added another CCS Division III Championship to his resume as the offensive line coach at Menlo (8-5). The Knights beat Hollister 42-6 on Saturday night. He and offensive coordinator Mike Hill, who held the same position under McLaughlin at SHC, will travel to Novato on Saturday for the Northern California Division 4-A final against San Marin (11-2), the North Coast Section (NCS) Division 5 champion.

A week after losing to De La Salle in the NCS Open Division Championship, Pittsburg (11-2) bounced back with a 13-3 win over Clayton Valley in the NCS Division 1 title game, extending outgoing head coach Vic Galli’s career by at least another week. The Pirates will host Manteca (11-1), led by Florida State commit Blake Nichelson, in the Northern California Division 1-A Championship next Saturday.

San Ramon Valley (11-2) is the NCS Division 2 champion and will host Marin Catholic (13-0) for the Northern California Division 2-A crown next weekend. The Wolves beat Campolindo 35-21 in the NCS title game.

Basketball Season Underway

Riordan guard Andrew Hilman (2) attempts a floater during the first quarter of the Crusaders' 74-67 win over Weston Ranch in a non-league basketball game in Dublin, Calif., on Nov. 26, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

While much of the attention was on playoff football over the weekend, the high school basketball season is in full swing. Riordan opened with a seven-point win over Weston Ranch at Saturday’s Nor Cal Tip-Off in Dublin, with senior point guard King-Njhsanni Wilhite scoring eight straight points after the Cougars tied the game at 59. Wilhite scored a game-high 22, while freshman Andrew Hilman dazzled in his debut with 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Christian Wise was named Player of the Game with 17 points and 17 rebounds.

A shorthanded St. Ignatius team also opened the season with a win on Saturday, beating Santa Cruz 77-72 in overtime. Pepperdine commit John Squire was out sick, but the Wildcats got 18 points from Kreekor Karageuzian and 14 from freshman Raymond Whitley.

On Wednesday, Lowell broke from tradition by pushing the pace to open the 2022-23 season with a 54-39 victory over Stuart Hall. Alex Hedger scored 14 points for the Cardinals, while Stuart Hall’s Brett Jasper led all scorers with 16. Later that night, Sacred Heart Cathedral beat Terra Nova 74-44, with RL Miller scoring 13 points. Fed Pernell finished with eight points, eight assists and six rebounds.