The seventh week of Central Coast Section football is full of good games, with tons of matchups that could ultimately decide league championships. While there isn’t one standalone titanic clash, there are tons of entertaining games on tap between the Golden Gate Bridge and Monterey County, including a Palma-Carmel showdown that’s featured in our NorCal Games of the Week.
No. 5 St. Francis (2-3, 1-1 WCAL) @ No. 12 St. Ignatius (3-2, 1-1), Saturday, 1 p.m.
What already looked like an intriguing game became all the more compelling after St. Ignatius led Valley Christian through three quarters while St. Francis was stuck in a battle with Sacred Heart Cathedral. The Lancers finally pulled away in the second half behind an excellent showing from sophomore Camilo Arquette, who finished the night with 208 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. SI’s run game was already looking strong with Joe Celentano, but the return of junior Jahsai Shannon gives the Wildcats a new dimension with their rushing attack.
Battle of the Bay: No. 20 Seaside (5-0, 1-0 PCAL Mission) vs. Monterey (3-3, 1-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m. at Monterey Peninsula College
Perhaps the Spartans and Toreadores were looking ahead to their rivalry game last week, when both struggled as favorites. Seaside won just 28-14 over winless North Salinas, while Monterey played from behind all night and ultimately fell 36-35 to Monte Vista Christian, with a blocked extra point that would have tied the game in the final minutes. Those games provided a wakeup call for both sides entering a game that has both teams in the same division for the first time since 2016. Last year, Monterey snapped a three-year losing streak to the Spartans on Tony Barragan’s last-second field goal.
No. 18 Branham (5-0, 2-0 BVAL Santa Teresa) @ No. 23 Willow Glen (5-0, 2-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
The matchup of two of the top teams in the Santa Teresa Division will double as one of the best matchups in all of San Jose as early returns suggest that both the Bruins and Rams should have been placed in the Mt. Hamilton Division. Branham beat both Pioneer and Santa Teresa in nonleague play while Willow Glen took down defending Mt. Hamilton champion Lincoln. Junior quarterback Nick Bandanza (41-67 passing, 533 yards, 37 carries-221 yards) has dominated for Branham, but he’s far from the only playmaker in the backfield. Cameron Rynhard has managed to rack up 633 yards on 78 carries while pulling in 12 receptions for 154 yards, while Matt Cordova has 247 yards on just 14 catches. Branham’s defense has racked up 15 sacks, with three from Jake Herington, and Jacob Meza has two of the Bruins’ six interceptions. Gabe Negrete has done it all for Willow Glen, putting up very similar numbers to Bandanza (40-69 passing, 593 yards, 51 carries-358 yards). Jake Medina has been a key component of the rushing attack ever since the Rams graduated Tyler Hawkins, with 53 carries for 303 yards, while Michael Malvini is an unsung hero. The senior has 13 catches for 139 yards and has anchored a defense that’s yielded just 27 points in five games.
No. 19 Burlingame (3-2, 1-0 PAL Bay) @ No. 13 King’s Academy (5-0, 0-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Last year, the Panthers and Knights dominated the Ocean Division, blowing out the rest of their competition and engaging in a thrilling battle that Burlingame won 31-20. This year, both have returned to the PAL’s top cut with excellent rushing attacks. TKA has moved the ball well with Jayden Frazier, who has stepped into the spotlight after Bralyn Lux graduated and headed to Fresno State, already racking up 521 yards and 14 touchdowns. Noah Short has racked up 194 yards on just 14 carries despite mainly spending his time on defense, where he’s one of the best linebackers in the section. For the Panthers, Lucas Meredith is averaging 9.1 yards per carry in his junior season while the defense has pitched back-to-back shutouts.
No. 7 Mitty (4-1, 2-0 WCAL) @ No. 1 Serra (5-0, 2-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Padres have posted back-to-back shutouts to open WCAL play and have matched up especially well with Mitty in recent years, but overlooking this game would be ill-advised. The Padres haven’t lost a home game to a league opponent, something they typically play just once per year, since the Monarchs paid a visit in 2011, and Mitty’s coming off a surprisingly close game against Riordan. To be fair, the Monarchs did have to play that game without top running back James Thomas, meaning Zach Tabangcura (14 carries-128 yards) had to carry the weight all by himself.
No. 3 Wilcox (4-2, 2-0 SCVAL De Anza) @ No. 24 Mountain View (5-0, 1-0), Friday, 3:15 p.m.
The Spartans announced their presence among the SCVAL’s top class last week with an exhausting win over Milpitas, one in which Austin Flax dominated on both sides of the ball. Mountain View won that game with fallen student Dustin Tang in mind, and the Spartans will play their first home game since his passing on Friday. That game will be against a Wilcox team that’s firing on all cylinders, coming off a remarkable 37-0 shutout win over Los Gatos.
Jefferson (3-2) @ Mills (4-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
PAL Lake Division play kicks off with a bang as two of the favorites meet under the lights in Millbrae. While neither team has tremendous depth, both have tons of stellar two-way players. Seuma Peleseuma has filled every conceivable role for Jefferson, while Nuku Vahai seems to find a way to get involved in every play for Mills.
No. 10 Half Moon Bay (5-0, 1-0 PAL Ocean) @ Hillsdale (4-1, 1-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Hillsdale turned heads last week with a convincing 21-7 win at Menlo, but the Cougars offer a different sort of challenge. Half Moon Bay gave San Mateo a taste of its own medicine last week, shutting the Bearcats out 34-0 on their own field and confirming their role as the odds-on favorite to win the Ocean Division. Hillsdale has a 42-6 loss to the same Sacred Heart Prep team that the Cougars beat 40-0, so a strong showing by the Fighting Knights would demonstrate marked improvement since that game, which could be credited to quality of competition.