Omari Taylor reaches the end zone for the third time on Friday night
Dwayne Norfleet

NCS semifinal roundup: Clayton Valley back in title game, Encinal wins thriller, and more

November 23, 2019

Foothill’s best chance to make it a game on Friday night against Clayton Valley came late in the second quarter, with the Falcons driving deep into Ugly Eagle territory and looking to cut their deficit to 14 points headed into the half. Instead, Clayton Valley linebacker Rocky Aven recovered a Foothill fumble at the five-yard line, then the Ugly Eagles effectively put the game away before the half, as Omari Taylor broke loose for his third touchdown of the first half, leading the way to a 49-7 victory in the North Coast Section Division 2 semifinals.

“Omari ran like a man, Erik (Christofferson) made some huge plays, and Jake (Kern) made some outstanding throws and controlled the game like the leader he is,” said Clayton Valley coach Tim Murphy. “We knew we caught them off-guard last time we played them, so we needed to clean some things up offensively to make up for that honeymoon period being over. We feel like we accomplished that, but we still have work to do going forward.”

It is not often you hear a coach speak about the need to clean things up after beating a team 41-0, which was the regular season score between Clayton Valley and Foothill, but whatever the Ugly Eagles needed to clean up certainly appeared to have been fixed in the rematch. Clayton Valley put the game further out of reach on its first possession of the third quarter, when Christofferson got into the end zone for the second time in the game, making it 35-0 at the time. The highlights were not done, however, as the Ugly Eagles opened the fourth quarter by converting an improbable fourth-and-52 play, as Kern dumped a screen pass to Rayshawn Jackson and he did the rest for a 42-0 advantage.

“We had a bad snap and a couple penalties, but everyone knows I don’t like to punt,” Murphy commented.

At that point, the game was well in hand, thanks in large part to a Clayton Valley defense which perfectly executed its game plan.

“We knew we had to stop (Pete Montini), because he is one of the best players in the area,” Murphy added. “Our defense did a great job making sure he did not take over the game and we did not give up any big plays. Kavika Baumgartner and Dillon Leao, who have both battled injuries recently, were outstanding in their effort.”

Jordan Barbadillo’s fourth-quarter touchdown put the final exclamation mark on the win, which sends Clayton Valley back to the Division 2 title game for the first time since it beat Concord for the 2015 championship. Since then, the Ugly Eagles were moved up into the Open Division in three straight years, losing twice to De La Salle and last year to Liberty in the semifinals, denying them of a state berth in each of those years.

Clayton Valley will face either Vintage or Campolindo next weekend for the section title.

Encinal beats De Anza in see-saw affair

With five seconds remaining, Encinal’s John Brindley calmly drilled a 27-yard field goal to lift the Jets past De Anza, 24-21, and into the NCS Division 5 title game.

Brindley’s game-winning kick came after De Anza turned what had once been a commanding Encinal advantage into a tie game, scoring 21 straight points after the Jets led 21-0 at the half.

“De Anza went from a 4-4 on defense to a 3-5-3, and that caused us a lot of problems, especially up front,” said Encinal coach Keith Minor. “Then, we fumbled twice inside our own 30-yard line in the fourth quarter and they scored off both those fumbles to tie the game. But we never panicked and put together our best drive of the year at the end of the game.”

On the final drive of the game, the Jets mixed the pass and the run after taking over on their own 35-yard line with just over four minutes remaining in regulation. Quarterback David Romero-Reinholz connected three times on the drive with Keirr Stewart, while both Archie Cole and Isaiah Smith carried the ball to move into scoring position.

“We didn’t want to give them any time left for another possession,” Minor added. “That was the best quarterback (Darrion Davis) we have seen all year, and our defense was so tired from chasing him around all night.”

Stewart not only had three big catches on the final drive, but opened the game with an 85-yard lightning strike, taking a 10-yard out pattern from Romero-Reinholz, breaking a pair of tackle attempts along the left sideline and racing for a score on the first play of the game for a quick 7-0 Encinal lead. On the Jets’ next possession, Cole broke loose for a 50-yard gain, which led to a touchdown run by Smith. Cole also reached the end zone later in the first half.

“We were pretty dominant early, and it was a tale of two halves,” Minor said. “But also give De Anza a ton of credit. Those kids played hard all game, they adjusted well and turned it into a great football game.”

With the win, Encinal advances to the Division 5 title game, where the Jets will face either Del Norte or Moreau Catholic.

Kennedy overcomes halftime deficit to down Justin-Siena

Trailing by eight at the half, Kennedy-Richmond exploded for 35 second-half points to pull away for the 42-21 win over Justin-Siena in the NCS Division 6 semifinals.

Down 15-7 after the first two quarters, Kennedy evened things up when Trey Baker scored from 17 yards out, part of a 215-yard performance for the senior. Camron Young then intercepted a pass, which he returned to the Justin-Siena four-yard line and the Eagles scored again to take a 22-15 lead on a five-yard slant from Bobby Williams to Kenny Roberts.

“Once we relaxed, the defense picked it up, and we moved some guys back into some comfortable positions. I just tried to remind them that we are our own worst enemy when we try and do extra or do someone else’s job,” said Kennedy coach Greg Marshall. “Offensively, we just had to get back to what we know and what we did all year. We reminded each other to trust the guy on the left and trust the guy on the right. Our line started putting guys on their backs in the run game, and Trey is explosive when that happens.”

It appeared that Justin-Siena would tie the game early in the fourth, when Hudson Beers connected with Blake Hoban for a 15-yard touchdown pass, but Kennedy blocked the extra point to remain in the lead, 22-21. The Eagles then struck back almost right away, when Williams hit Young for a 60-yard touchdown pass. Baker then put the game out of reach with a late 35-yard scoring run.

“Trey challenged our guys after the first half to get back to playing how we were capable. He showed tremendous leadership,” Marshall added.

With the win, Kennedy advances to the NCS title game for the first time since 1988, when the Eagles defeated Healdsburg for the 2A crown. They will face either St. Bernard’s-Eureka or Middletown next weekend.

De La Salle routs Monte Vista

Top-seeded De La Salle rolled up 412 yards of total offense in the first half, and the Spartans’ top defensive unit kept Monte Vista off the scoreboard, all on their way to a decisive 49-13 victory in the Division 1 semifinals.

A pair of interceptions in the first quarter by the De La Salle defense thwarted early Monte Vista drives, with Lu Magia-Hearns and Charles McAdoo coming up big on defense. Those turnovers supported a strong start from quarterback Dorian Hale, who scored on the ground for the first touchdown of the night and then hit sophomore Zeke Berry for an 87-yard touchdown to make the score 14-0.

Shamar Garrett’s 37-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter started a 12-minute onslaught which put the game well out of reach by the time the teams headed to the locker room. James Coby also reached the end zone twice in the second quarter, while Garrett added a 67-yard jaunt.

De La Salle will face either Pittsburg or Liberty next weekend, as the Spartans take aim at their 28th consecutive section title.

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