Balboa and Lincoln will meet in a third straight Turkey Day Game after winning their Academic Athletic Association (AAA) semifinals, while St. Ignatius will play for a Central Coast Section (CCS) Division II crown, the Wildcats’ first appearance in a section title game since 2014. The Standard has comprehensive coverage of all three schools’ semifinal games, as well as a glance at other action from around the Bay Area.
AAA Semifinal: No. 3 Balboa Buccaneers 17, No. 2 Washington Eagles 14
The Buccaneers avenged a regular season shutout loss by playing their cleanest game of the year to beat the Eagles. Nick Wong’s 41-yard touchdown run in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter held up as the decisive score after Washington (8-3) got within three on James Mertz’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Felix Mamrikov. Dontae Allen-Wilson ran 25 times for 121 yards to lead Balboa (6-5). His 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter opened up a 10-0 lead. The Bucs struck first on Eric Solorzano’s 32-yard field goal in the second quarter. Dhiraj Gurung, who accounted for 140 yards of total offense on the day, got the Eagles on the board on a 55-yard run in the third quarter.
CCS Division II Semifinal: No. 5 Bellarmine Bells 21, No. 1 Wilcox Chargers 17
It’ll be an all-Jesuit CCS Division II Championship after Bellarmine knocked off top-seeded Wilcox on the road. Nate Escalada’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Colin Lakkaraju, who had been out injured for much of the year, gave Bellarmine (6-6) the lead with 5:14 left. Billy Ladd then intercepted a Charger pass, and Jake Hanson’s sack in the final minute led to a turnover on downs to seal the game. Wilcox (10-2) turned the ball over three times.
AAA Semifinal: No. 1 Lincoln Mustangs 27, No. 4 Lowell Cardinals 6
Jamelle Newman and Ricky Underwood each ran for two scores as the Mustangs advanced to a fourth straight Turkey Day Game, pulling away in the second half against a Cardinals squad that hung tough despite losing quarterback Angelo Ornelas to a broken collarbone a week earlier. Lowell (3-7) held an early 6-0 lead after a fumble recovery and 34-yard touchdown pass from Nathan Phuong to Anthony Irias. Lincoln (8-3) turned the ball over twice on Underwood fumbles, but he recorded two interceptions to compensate.
CCS Division I Semifinal: No. 6 Mitty Monarchs 42, No. 2 St. Francis Lancers 41 (OT)
For all the success the St. Francis football program has experienced in recent years, the Lancers haven’t won a section title since 2014. That drought continued on Friday night as Mitty (9-3) roared back from a 15-point deficit in the final five minutes of regulation, then took the lead on Wills Towers’ 16-yard pass to Charlie Butler on the first possession of overtime and won when the Lancers bobbled a snap on an extra point. St. Francis (8-4) led 35-20 on Kingston Keanaaina’s fourth rushing touchdown of the night with 8:54 to go, and the sophomore ran for a fifth touchdown before the botched extra point.
The Monarchs tied the game after recovering an onside kick from inside St. Francis territory after a roughing the kicker penalty on an extra point. Towers hit Ben Kim for a 5-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal, then found Danny Scudero for the game-tying two-point conversion with 33 seconds left. Scudero finished with nine catches for 116 yards.
The loss continues a demoralizing trend for the Lancers. In their last seven postseason trips, four have ended at the hands of an opponent they had defeated in the regular season. They beat Mitty 35-13 on Nov. 4 to end the regular season. In 2021, an 11-0 St. Francis team lost a CCS Championship Game to Serra after beating the Padres by 23 to close the regular season.
CCS Division I Semifinal: No. 1 Serra Padres 57, No. 4 Salinas Cowboys 21
The Padres stretched their incredible form into a third consecutive blowout win, this time hanging 50 points on Salinas (10-2) in the first half. Maealiuaki Smith threw for four touchdowns and ran for a fifth. Seamus Gilmartin, Jaden Green, Joey Villaroman and Jayden Weber were all on the receiving end of Smith TD passes while Malachi Gastrock, Jabari Mann and Brooks Trimmer each ran for scores. Adam Shaffer Jr. threw for three touchdowns for the visiting Cowboys; Zach Ball (6 catches-60 yards) caught two of them and Cal commit Nyziah Hunter hauled in an 80-yard score in the fourth quarter. Serra (12-0) has won both CCS Division I titles since the current format was adopted in 2019, and will look for a third on Friday night against Mitty.
CCS Division II Semifinal: No. 2 St. Ignatius Wildcats 28, No. 3 Aptos Mariners 14
Facing an Aptos team that entered Friday night’s semifinal averaging 40.2 points per game, St. Ignatius forced three turnovers and held the Mariners to a season-low 14 points to reach their first section championship game since 2014. Soren Hummel completed 17 of 22 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns, while fellow sophomore Jarious Hogan ran 15 times for 115 yards and a pair of scores. Sophomores were also heavily involved in the defensive effort; Jake Boyden intercepted a pass and Sui Gallegos-Hunkin forced a fumble just shy of the goal line that Chase Wiley recovered in the end zone for a touchback. Senior captain Santino Franco also recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter.
Other Bay Area Football Scores
Despite losing three times in the regular season, De La Salle (9-3) won a 30th consecutive North Coast Division (NCS) title, 30-23 over Pittsburg in the NCS Open Division Championship. The Spartans sacked Florida commit Jaden Rashada six times and held on despite injuries to tight end Cooper Flanagan, a 4-star Notre Dame commit, and Harvard-bound offensive lineman Derek Thompson. The Pirates will play in the NCS Division 1 Championship next week against Clayton Valley after the Ugly Eagles held on to beat Liberty, 21-13.
Charlie Murrin batted down a two-point conversion attempt with 30 seconds remaining to save Campolindo (12-0) in a 42-41 win over Rancho Cotate in a Cougars-versus-Cougars NCS Division 2 Semifinal. Murrin also forced a Rancho Cotate defensive back to fumble after intercepting a Campolindo pass.
The hosts went up by seven on Dashiell Weaver’s 34-yard touchdown pass to Tim Daugherty with 1:44 left. Rancho Cotate (9-3) got within a point when Ananias Walker fell on a loose ball in the end zone after Cal commit Sailasa Vadrawale’s lengthy reception, but Murrin saved the day to put Campo into the section title game against San Ramon Valley (10-2).
Fourth-seeded Pinole Valley (7-4) used a powerful rushing attack to knock off top-ranked St. Mary’s-Albany (11-1) in an NCS Division 6 Semifinal, 20-7. The Spartans will face No. 3 Justin-Siena (7-5) in the championship game next Friday.
Menlo (7-5) advanced to the CCS Division III Championship game, overcoming a two-touchdown halftime deficit for a 21-14 win at No. 2 Live Oak (9-3). The Knights, who feature former Sacred Heart Cathedral coaches Barry McLaughlin and Mike Hill on their staff, will face No. 5 Hollister (7-5) in the championship game next Saturday at Rabobank Stadium in Salinas.
State Volleyball Championships
Three Bay Area schools won state volleyball titles over the weekend at Santiago Canyon College in Orange. Branson beat Palos Verdes in five sets to claim the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division I title. The Bulls had beaten University in the NCS Division 3 Championship. Archie Williams, formerly known as Drake, won the CIF Division III Championship in four sets against Buckley. Berean Christian won Division V, winning the final two sets to top Victory Christian in five frames.
Ripon Christian, which made two trips to San Francisco in three nights to oust both Lowell and Urban, won the Division IV Championship over Central Valley Christian. Clovis North, who had beaten University in the Northern California Division II Championship, fell short of a state title, losing to Chaminade in four sets. St. Francis lost to Cathedral Catholic in the Open Division Championship, the Lancers’ only loss of the season. St. Francis finished the season at 34-1, while the Dons were a perfect 42-0. Cathedral Catholic only lost one set all season, the second set of the Southern California Open Division Championship against Mira Costa. St. Francis was competitive in the first and third sets, losing 25-21, 25-16, 25-23.
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]