MORAGA, CA – What a Friday night it was for the Prep2Prep NCS No. 14 ranked Campolindo passing game and its new quarterback Grant Harper.
After biding his time but also seeing some action as a backup to John Torchio last season that gained him some valuable experience, the 6-2, 190-pound junior left-handed signal-caller made a huge statement for himself after going 17 for 28 for 376 yards passing with five touchdowns in a 35-21 victory over visiting P2P NCS No. 8 Marin Catholic-Kentfield.
“We had an experienced quarterback and that definitely was a factor, but we also had some receivers out,” Campolindo Coach Kevin Macy remarked. “I never thought we would be able to do this but we had a kid come out of nowhere.”
The kid he was speaking about was wide receiver Max Schoenberger, who because some receivers were dinged up, was moved from starting safety and backup wide receiver to starting wideout in practice this week.
According to Macy “Max had a great week of practice” so obviously the decision by the wily veteran coach paid off.
The 6-1, 185-pound senior had four of the Harper TD passes on catches of 48, 79, 5 and 44 yards. He finished with eight receptions for 222 yards. Harper’s fifth TD pass was a 43-yarder to senior Luke Campo.
The defense of defending CIF North Coast Division II champion Campolindo shut down a Marin Catholic running game that was supposed the be the strength of the CIF NCS Division III champions. Mason Mastrov, a 6-5, 215-pound junior defensive end, led the way with 2.5 sacks and 12 tackles.
Campolindo took the opening kick-off at their own 26-yard line and Harper and the Cougars passing attack wasted little time getting busy. The first pass of the Cougars lefty went for no gain to Schoenberger, but after a 14-yard completion to junior Tyler Darr, a 12-yarder to Campo and a run for no gain, Harper found Schoenberger all alone and he easily raced 48-yards into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
After the teams exchanged punts Marin Catholic went on its one long sustained effort of the night when a 15-play, 66-yard drive resulted in the first of three 1-yard touchdown runs by junior quarterback Gaven Cooke and the score was tied 7-7.
It didn’t take long for Campolindo to strike again. On the first play after getting the kickoff Harper hit Schoenberger on a hitch pattern he caught 7-yards beyond the line of scrimmage and Schoenberger turned it up field and raced past several defenders on the 79-yard jaunt to make it 14-7.
Cooke got the Wildcats even and it was tied 14-14 at halftime, but after the teams traded scores with Campolindo scoring on Schoenberger’s third TD reception from Harper late in the third quarter and Cooke getting Marin Catholic even for the third time in the early fourth quarter on his third 1-yarder, Harper brought the Cougars right back on the ensuing drive and when he found Campo on the 43-yarder, Campolindo (1-0) had the lead for good.
In his first varsity start the 6-1, 175-pound Cooke ran more than he passed but he only had 88 yards on 24 carries and in the air he completed 10 of 17 passes for 101 yards.
The bottom line was Marin Catholic (0-1) gave up the big plays on defense and the offense really never got untracked, particularly the running game. Except for Cooke’s running and passing the rest of the offense was 107 yards rushing on 27 carries by three running backs combined.
The always gracious Macy had the same message to each and every one of the Marin Catholic players he shook hands with as the teams went through the traditional post game lineup at mid field.
“You’ll be a different team in the playoffs,” Macy told them.
The victory by Campolindo reversed a 42-21 defeat on the road in last season’s opener, but last year Campolindo and Marin Catholic were not in the same division so they didn’t meet in the playoffs.
With Marin Catholic petitioning up to D2 it may very well have been a prelude to a potential playoff matchup.