State champions crowned in California high school football
By Patrick Ibarra
The dust has settled, the smoke has cleared. Ten teams entered the weekend with dreams of a state title on the line, five went home champions. Two of them were from Northern California’s Sac-Joaquin Section.
After a wild weekend in Carson at the Home Depot Center, the five respective high school state football champions in California were crowned.
The big game, in the Open Division between Southern California’s De La Salle-Concord and Servite-Anaheim, wasn’t all that interesting. A 35-0 halftime lead for De La Salle was stretched to 42-0 before the fourth quarter. A garbage-time touchdown by Servite in the fourth kept the 48-8 blowout from becoming an embarrassing shutout.
But the rest had flashes of excitement in them. In the Division I game, between Palo Alto and Centennial of Corona, it was a defensive slugfest. The first quarter ended with only a safety scored, giving Palo Alto an early 2-0 lead. Palo Alto stretched that lead to 15-0 with two touchdowns in the second quarter, but it only set up the stage for an exciting game. Centennial scored a touchdown midway through the third quarter to make it 15-7, and another touchdown in the fourth to get within two points, but failed on the two point conversion.
Centennial got the ball back with just over two minutes to play, drove downfield and attempted what would have been a game-winning field goal with 30 seconds left. It missed and Palo Alto escaped with a win.
In the Division II game, the Sac-Joaquin Section champion Folsom High took it to Serra of Gardena in an impressive 48-20 victory. Like most of Folsom’s wins throughout the season, it was the Dano Graves show, as the Folsom quarterback accounted for six touchdowns in the game.
Graves was 11-29 passing for 214 yards, but threw three touchdowns. Where he is incredibly effective, though, is in his ability to run the ball. On Saturday, he rushed 20 times for only 74 yards, but crossed the goal line three times to lead the way to victory.
The final score was misleading, though. Folsom only netted a 14-7 lead after the first quarter, and was up only 21-20 at the half. The third quarter got tough, as neither team scored, but the fourth quarter was an offensive explosion.
Folsom scored touchdowns in its first four possessions. On its fifth, it used up the final three minutes of the game to end it.
In the Division III game, the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Escalon pulled off a 30-14 win for the state title. In a game also showcasing a safety as the only first-quarter scoring, Escalon went up 2-0 after the first and then rattled off three touchdowns in the second to go into the half up 23-7.
The third quarter went dry for both teams, but Escalon sealed it in the fourth with a final touchdown. Madison scored later, but a 30-14 deficit proved too much.
The section’s final representative didn’t have as much luck. In the Division IV game, Brookside Christian had its hands full with The Bishop’s School, falling behind early in a 40-14 loss. Bishop’s rattled off a 13-0 first quarter lead, then went into the half up 20-6. Destined to make it a battle, Brookside Christian clawed back in the third quarter, causing a Bishop fumble and eventually driving downfield to score a touchdown and two-point conversion, bringing the team within six points at 20-14 after three quarters.
It was as close as the game would get, though, as a resilient Bishop scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to end the game and seal the victory.
While another year of high school football is finally in the books, it seemed to be quite a successful one for the Sac-Joaquin Section, and one that will be remembered in the hearts of students who played, and cheered, for the rest of their lives.
Isn’t that what high school sports is supposed to be all about?