Pittsburg senior slotback Brian Andre Pierce (shown here earlier this season against Bishop O'Dowd) caught a fourth down TD pass late in the fourth quarter that tied the game at 21-21 in an eventual 24-21 victory over Liberty
Casey Manuel/Prep2Prep

NorCal Regional Games of the Week Recap: Pittsburg reasserts control of the BVAL

October 20, 2019

Pittsburg is back on top of the Bay Valley Athletic League just like they have been many times in the era of veteran Coach Vic Galli, Menlo-Atherton gets past Sacred Heart Prep, Davis upends Jesuit, and Serra gets to 7-0 for the first time in school history, plus more in this week’s recap of the top games in Northern California.

Pittsburg 24, Liberty-Brentwood 21 OT

The battle for the Bay Valley Athletic League title could not have been a more epic saga, but in the end, and in the three years since Coach Ryan Partridge took the helm at Liberty, the visiting team prevailed for the third straight year after Pittsburg came from behind to post a 24-21 overtime victory

With starting senior quarterback Jerry Johnson watching from the sidelines after turning an ankle, backup Santino Chavez came off the bench and led Pittsburg on a fourth quarter drive that forced overtime.

From there Pittsburg kicker Lorenzo Anaya booted a 28-yard field goal on the first set of downs in the extra period and the Pirates defense closed it out sending the Pirates and their fans sitting on the visitors’ side of the field into a frenzied celebration.

In a lot of ways it was the opportunity Chavez was looking for. At the beginning of the season 5-11, 178-pound senior was in the thick of the fight for the starting job. However, when Johnson got the nod and then set a school record in a season opening win over St. Mary’s, “Santi” as the Pirates players call him, and a quarterback Pittsburg Coach Vic Galli claims “would start on a lot of good teams,” had to bide his time, and it came with no warning against Liberty

Pittsburg (7-1, 3-0 BVAL) led 14-7 at the half but Liberty scored twice in the third quarter to take a 21-14 advantage into the fourth quarter.

Defense was the name of the game for most of the final period, and it was looking like the Liberty defense might close it out, but it was not to be. Facing third-and-25 from their own 34 a personal foul penalty extended the Pittsburg drive and a second personal foul call moved the ball to the Liberty 13.

Four plays later, on fourth-and-4, Sanchez connected with Brain Andre Pierce in the front corner of the end zone and with 2:46 left the Pirates had pulled even at 21-21.

“It was crazy but it was fun,” Galli remarked. “We got a big break on the penalties, but there were also a couple of times we had chances to score, like in the second quarter when we were up 14-7 and had the ball on their 3-yard line, and we went backwards. The bottom line is it was two good football teams battling it out.”

With Prep2Prep CIF North Coast Section No. 2 and Cal-Hi Sports No. 21 Liberty winning the BVAL last year and then going on to win a CIF state Division 1-A Bowl Game title, in some ways it took P2P NCS No. 3 and Cal-Hi Sports No. 32 Pittsburg out of the spotlight, particularly after Coach Vic Galli and his Pirates lost 58-21 to P2P CCS No. 1 and Cal-Hi Sports No. 12 Serra-San Mateo in week two this season.

The reality is since 2010 Pittsburg has one nine of the 10 meetings with Liberty with their lone loss last year when they ironically lost by the same score they won by this year, 24-21.

“If things play out the way I think they will there’s a good chance we’ll see them again in the playoffs,” conclude Galli.

At this point unless Pittsburg falters in its last two BVAL games with 2-6 Heritage-Brentwood and 1-6 Antioch, Galli and his boys will win the league title and likely get the No. 2 seed in the NCS Division 1 playoffs.

Liberty (7-1, 2-1) closes out BVAL action on the road at 0-7 Deer Valley-Antioch and Heritage, so barring a huge upset of either Pittsburg or Liberty the Lions will fall in as the No. 3 seed in the NCS D1 playoffs.

Menlo-Atherton-Atherton 26, Sacred Heart Prep 20

After failing to recover an onside kick after Sacred Heart Prep had scored to cut the lead to 26-20, Menlo-Atherton (4-3, 2-0 PAL – Bay) was facing a possible defeat squarely in the face if the visiting Gators scored and kicked an extra point.

With Sacred Heart Prep just outside the Menlo-Atherton red zone and facing fourth down with 48.5 seconds left to play, Bears Coach Steve Papin called a time out to set his defense.

Papin decided to go man-to-man and that meant it left Thomas Taufui all alone but the 5-8, 170-pound sophomore strong safety was up to the task and forced an incompletion that preserved the Menlo-Atherton victory.

Taufui also got it done on offense after leading Menlo-Atherton with 141 yards on 17 carries including a 3-yard first quarter TD run that gave the Bears a 6-0 lead.

Prep2Prep CIF Central Coast Section No. 5 Menlo-Atherton (4-3, 2-0 PAL – Bay Division) was up 13-0 at the half but Sacred Heart Prep showed no signs of quitting, however every time the Gators scored the Bears seemed to have an answer.

Like last year when a 30-0 Menlo-Atherton road victory over Sacred Heart Prep decided the PAL – Bay title there’s a good chance this year’s game should produce the league champion again, although P2P CCS No. 12 The Kings Academy-Sunnyvale (7-0, 2-0) kept pace with the Bears after a 44-0 win over Aragon-San Mateo.

Menlo-Atherton now goes to Burlingame this Friday night and then faces Aragon at home before closing out league at The Kings Academy.

Pre2Prep CIFCCS No. 10 Sacred Heart Prep (5-2, 2-1) hosts The Kings Academy this Friday night in what is a must win if Coach Mark Grieb are to stay in the PAL – Bay race.

Davis 24, Jesuit-Carmichael 20

The who-beat-whom syndrome went to host Davis (7-1, 3-1) after the Blue Devils erased a late second quarter 14-7 deficit to post a Delta League victory that keeps them in the hunt for the league title.

The victory was in a way some comeuppance for a Davis team that went 0-10 in 2017 and lost 61-3 to Jesuit, and then last year when they improved to 6-5 they were still on the short end of a 42-27 loss at Jesuit.

Davis quarterback Luke Carroll was 10-of-19 for 166 yards and one TD on a pass to Joey Asta in the late third quarter that gave Davis a 21-14 lead.

With the win Davis has now won seven games for the first time since 2007 and also in the 10-year tenure of Coach Steve Smyte with two games to play. The Blue Devils host Franklin-Elk Grove this Friday and then they finish Delta League play at a Cosumnes Oaks-Elk Grove team that is currently tied with Davis at 3-1 in league.

Best of the Rest

Some observers felt Prep2Prep CIF Central Coast Section top-ranked Serra (7-0, 4-0 West Catholic Athletic League) should have won by a bigger margin than their 35-21 victory over host and P2P CCS No. 13 St. Francis-Mountain View, but in a way it’s a moot point since the Padres had a 21-7 halftime lead and were never really threatened. Part of the reason the game was somewhat close is Serra was whistled for 18 penalties to three for the Lancers. If Serra is going to make some noise and go deep in the playoffs penalties is something they are going to have to clean up. Regardless, 7-0 is unchartered territory in the 19-year Serra coaching of Serra Coach Patrick Walsh, and by Walsh’s account the first time in school history. Even in the 2017 season when Serra won a CIF State Division 2-AA Bowl Game title, the Padres went 7-0 in the wild-and-wacky West Catholic Athletic League and then won three WCAL playoff games, but even though they finished 13-2, Serra only opened the season 5-2 in its first seven games. Next up is Sacred Heart Cathedral and then a showdown with P2P CCS No. 2 and 7-0 and 4-0 Valley Christian at home.

Trailing 14-7 at halftime and at the end of the third quarter, the Monte Vista defense held tight and the offense finally broke through to pull out the victory. Quarterback Jack Stewardson scored on a 1-yard run on fourth down with 25 seconds left to play to make it 14-13. Then, after Coach Matt Russi eschewed a PAT that if converted would have sent the game to overtime, Jacob Oliphant took an inside toss from Stewardson on a 2-point play attempt that gave the Mustangs a 15-14 victory over California-San Ramon. Prep2Prep CIF North Coast Section No. 4 Monte Vista (6-2, 2-1) is now in sole possession of second place in the East Bay Athletic League behind a De La Salle team that can’t win the league title.

With a 38-21 win over visiting Grant-Sacramento, Del Oro-Loomis (5-3, 2-2) got a much needed win that kept them above .500, evened their Sierra Foothill League record and will have an implication on the Golden Eagles CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoff seeding.

To say Prep2Prep CIFNCS No. 14 Clayton Valley-Concord made a statement in what was likely a must win game for them to make the playoffs, the Ugly Eagles used the ugly stick in 41-0 shellacking of P2P NCS No. 9 Foothill-Pleasanton. Clayton Valley (5-3, 1-2 East Bay Athletic League) now faces Monte Vista and De La Salle but even with two losses they will still qualify for the playoffs. San Ramon Valley falls to 5-3 and 1-2 in league.

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