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Football February 13, 2012 johnwooton 0

Inside Look: Salesian-Richmond     Just a cursory look at the California Interscholastic Federation Division IV bowl rankings would tell you that the Salesian High...

Inside Look: Salesian-Richmond 

   Just a cursory look at the California Interscholastic Federation Division IV bowl rankings would tell you that the Salesian High football team might have a steep hill to climb when it comes to being included in a regional qualifier next month.

   But the Pride has confounded the experts before and, should a few dominoes fall the right way, that hill might begin to look more like an ant hill than a mountain.

   As it sits right now, Salesian enters the North Coast Section Division V playoffs as the unquestioned No. 1 seed thanks to its Tri-County Athletic League Rock Division title and a convincing nonleague win over division foe Middletown. Where the Pride’s record sits is a matter of some debate though, and that answer will depend on the CIF’s decision on an appeal of forfeits by Oakland Athletic League front-runner McClymonds. 

   The Warriors defeated Salesian 32-22 on Sept. 12 in Oakland, but that result could be reversed if McClymonds has to forfeit games it won due to an eligibility issue. So, for now, Salesian enters the postseason with an 8-2 record and a seven-game winning streak.

   No matter the uncertainty over its record, there is no disputing just how strong a season Salesian has already enjoyed. 

   The contributions of four key sophomores on offense, including quarterback Jaylen Tregle and running back Dalonnie Crater, has complemented a great season by senior running back Charles Hillary. On defense, a standout trio of defensive ends “” Galuega Toailoa, Kyree Harvey and Chris Williams “” has set the tone for a unit that allowed just 12 points per game in league play. The linebacking core of Vegas Shackleford, John Schlit and d’Artagnan Connor has also played well while safety Prentiss Reid has been the ballhawk in the secondary.

   “I think the thing about our team that’s been a real pleasant surprise is we’ve won games people have expected us to lose,” Salesian coach Chad Nightingale said. “You look at the St. Mary’s game and the El Cerrito game and those are games on paper that many people thought we’d lose. We won both those games very convincingly.”

   Though the TCAL-Rock doesn’t always get the notoriety of some other leagues, consider that Salesian “” with an enrollment hovering around 430 students “” earned wins over schools in El Cerrito and Pinole Valley that have about triple the student body size. Nightingale credits both his players and his coaches for the achievement, saying that continuity in the staff has helped continue the tradition of one of the East Bay’s most successful programs.

   Now in his 19th season as Salesian’s head coach, Nightingale has never been one to dole out hollow praise. So, when he calls this year’s team “one of the top four teams we’ve had,” it means he knows the potential for a Section title and possibly more exists. Since 2005, the Pride (or the Chieftains, as they were called in that “˜05 title run) owns four NCS titles, and that remains the ultimate goal over the next few weeks.

   Still, Nightingale is pragmatic when talking about his team’s NorCal chances. The latest Cal-Hi Sports rankings also have Central Catholic-Modesto and Capital Christian-Sacramento in the top three with McClymonds, and editor Mark Tennis posits that Modesto Christian might also be in the mix should the right confluence of events take place.

   For now though, the focus in Salesian’s camp remains on next week, and a matchup against (CLOVERDALE OR ST. VINCENT). Should the Pride reach the NCS final, the bottom of the bracket could produce as its opponent a one-loss team like No. 2 St. Bernard Catholic-Eureka, No. 3 St. Helena or even No. 6 John Swett-Crockett. None of those teams would be pushovers, and there is certainly work to be done before any rankings can even be considered.

   “We’re just trying to figure out a way to win next Saturday,” Nightingale said.

“”SportStars Staff



Salesian’s 8-2 regular season record marked the program’s 10th straight season with at least eight wins. Here’s a look at the previous nine seasons, which include four NCS titles.


2005 12-1 NCS Div. V champs

2006 10-3 NCS Div. V runner-up

2007 10-2 NCS Div. V semifinalist

2008 9-3 NCS Div. IV runner-up

2009 11-2 NCS Div. IV semifinalist

2010 11-2 NCS Div. IV champs

2011 13-0 NCS Div. IV champs

2012 9-3 NCS Div. V quarterfinalist

2013 8-5 NCS Div. V champs


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