The final play of the game was not originally designed to count on the ability of Trey Baker to reach the end zone. But when Kennedy reached the line of scrimmage, the Eagles saw something different from the Salesian defense than what they had expected and changed the call at the line. The end result was a seven-yard touchdown run from Baker as time expired, lifting Kennedy to a thrilling 23-21 victory over the Pride and creating a three-way tie for the TCAL-Rock division title.
“It is an instant classic,” said Kennedy coach Greg Marshall. “This game was just so good, and neither team deserved to lose.”
It appeared with a minute to go in the game that Kennedy would emerge victorious, holding a four-point lead and with Salesian facing third-and-10 from its own 20-yard line. But Pride quarterback Ronald Robertson completed a 62-yard pass across the middle of the field, leading to a Salesian touchdown with just 17 seconds remaining in the game. The two-point conversion gave the Pride a 21-17 lead, their third different lead of the game.
“Our kids just told each other on the sideline, ‘this ain’t over’, we still have 17 seconds left,” Marshall commented.
Salesian attempted to utilize a squib kick to negate a long return, but Baker stepped up and foiled that plan, scooping up the bouncing ball and racing it back to the Pride’s 30-yard line. An offsides penalty and a pass interference against Salesian were key moments, as the ball moved down to the seven-yard line for one final snap with two seconds remaining on the clock.
The initial call from the Kennedy staff was to go back to the well, calling a halfback toss pass, which the Eagles had scored on earlier in the game, when Camron Young connected with Kenny Roberts in the third quarter to give Kennedy a 10-7 lead at the time. But the Kennedy staff and players on the field saw that Salesian was set up to stop the attempt and checked to a simple ’23 Lead’ call, an isolation run play between guard and tackle, with a fullback attempting to clear out the linebacker responsible for the gap. The call also put the ball in the hands of Baker, who had scored Kennedy’s previous touchdown which had given the Eagles a 17-13 lead late in the game.
“Trey told us to put the ball in his hands,” Marshall said. “He wanted the ball, and the seniors on our offensive line wanted the outcome to be on their shoulders as well. I just couldn’t be more proud of these guys.”
The game was back-and-forth from the outset, with Salesian holding a 7-3 at the half. Each team swapped touchdowns from that point forward, as the league title hung in the balance. Now Kennedy and Salesian both share the title with El Cerrito, who routed Saint Mary’s 56-0 on Friday night. The Gauchos lost to Salesian but beat Kennedy. All three league champs are headed to the post-season.
After the game, Marshall also singled out one of his unsung heroes, senior Laron Belcher. Normally a fullback, Belcher asked Marshall on the field before the game if he could switch to the offensive line for the game, a position which had decimated by injuries for the Eagles. According to Marshall, Belcher racked up five pancake blocks at his new position.
“He told me that he wanted his Senior Night to be on his performance up front, so we gave him that opportunity,” Marshall said.
Amador Valley locks up EBAL-Valley title
Senior Kannon Dote threw for a pair of touchdown passes and the Amador Valley defense snuffed out Livermore’s offense on Friday night, leading the Dons to the 27-0 victory to clinch the outright EBAL-Valley title.
After a scoreless first quarter, Dote hit Cal Ewanich for a 12-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter. Later, Kai Burgermeister added a one-yard touchdown run for a two-score lead at the break.
In the third quarter, a Josh Heverly interception set up a 47-yard connection between Dote and Ewanich, and Eric Hunter III capped the scoring with a four-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Amador Valley now awaits its seeding in the NCS Division 1 playoffs, while Livermore will wait to discover its fate in the Division 2 bracket.
Campolindo, Acalanes force shared title
Campolindo and Acalanes both rolled to one-sided wins on Friday night, meaning that the DAL-Foothill title ends in a three-way between those two teams and Las Lomas, which routed Northgate in a non-league game on Friday.
Campolindo scored 28 points in the second half to beat rival Miramonte, 35-7, as the Cougars ran for 349 yards against the Matadors. Senior Brandon Manty rushed for 201 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way, including a 61-yard dash early in the second quarter to give Campolindo its first lead of the night. The Cougars led just 7-0 at the half, but Manty’s 19-yard score pushed the lead to 14-0 before Matt Meredith connected with Tanner Zwahlen for Miramonte’s only score of the night.
Ryan O’Neil added a pair of rushing touchdowns to help the Cougars pull away and he finished the night with 96 yards on nine carries. Campolindo figures to be one of the top seeds in the Division 2 playoffs while Miramonte should make the Division 5 field.
Acalanes scored 43 first-half points to race past Alhambra, 56-7. Junior quarterback Brady Huchingson accounted for six touchdowns in the win, while senior safety Nick Giorgianni had two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown in the first half.
Arms puts away Willits victory
With just over four minutes remaining in the game and trailing by a single point, Fort Bragg had disaster strike with a fumble at the Willits four-yard line. That allowed the Wolverines to put the ball back in the hands of two-way standout Jacob Arms, who dashed 96 yards with the game-clinching touchdown in a 33-26 Willits victory.
Arms also had a 37-yard scoring run during the first quarter, but the lead exchanged hands six different times in a back-and-forth battle between NCL rivals. Wyatt Curti accounted for three touchdowns in a big night for Fort Bragg, who dropped to 1-7 overall with the loss.
The Willits victory means that the Wolverines, St. Helena and Lower Lake all finish in a tie for second place in the NCL behind Middletown. St. Helena defeated Lower Lake on Friday night.
Benicia finishes unbeaten in DAL-Valley
Brode Kai Alava ran for two touchdowns and returned an interception for another as Benicia cruised past Ygnacio Valley, 46-0, to complete an unbeaten run through the DAL-Valley, in likely the Panthers’ final game in the division before a move to the Foothill Division next season.
Maurian Burrell added a rushing touchdown, while Kameron Lane connected with Gio Shaw-Hart for a first-quarter score.
Robledo turns in record performance
Sophomore Ivan Robledo ran for 329 yards and six touchdowns to lead St. Helena past Lower Lake, 54-39. It is the third time this season that Robledo, last year’s Prep2Prep NCS Freshman of the Year, has set a new single-game record for the Saints. For the complete game story by Gus Morris, click here.