In a few of the top Bay Area football leagues, crunch time comes early this season.
There never seems to be an easy week in the Central Coast Section’s West Catholic Athletic League, but that’s especially true for it’s opening week on Sept. 22-23.
The WCAL features four teams within the most recent NorCal Top 20, and a fifth listed among the ‘Next Five.’ Four of those teams will match up against one another to open WCAL play.
The biggest of those two contests is No. 3 St. Francis-Mountain View (2-1) at No. 13 Valley Christian-San Jose (2-1). The Lancers were as high as No. 2 in the rankings before a 31-7 loss at No. 1 De La Salle on Sept. 8. The score, however, didn’t reflect how well St. Francis represented itself, trailing just 17-7 at the half. In fact, there was a moment early in the second quarter with the score tied 7-7 and St. Francis had momentum and the ball in De La Salle territory.
But a fumble returned for a touchdown quickly turned the tide and the Lancers could never get back on the right side of it.
St. Francis coach Greg Calcagno would’ve much preferred a real victory to a moral one, but the game still served its purpose in getting his team ready for the WCAL grind.
“Our kids competed,” Calcagno said immediately following the loss. “That was the biggest thing. We wanted to come in here and compete, and I felt we did that.”
Now rested after a bye, the Lancers travel to a Valley Christian (2-1) team which lost its season opener 22-20 to No. 8 Manteca, but responded by outscoring its next two opponents by a combined 103-10.
In addition to a stifling defense led by standouts RJ Stone and D’Angelo McKenzie, the Warriors offense has made a big leap behind senior running back Charlie Bostic. Bostic had just 57 yards on six carries in the loss to Manteca, but was electric in wins over Wilcox-Santa Clara and Pleasant Valley-Chico. In the two victories, Bostic combined for 337 yards and five touchdowns on just 16 carries. He’s averaging 17.9 yards per carry on the season.
The league’s other big opening week matchup is No. 17 Bellarmine-San Jose (2-1) hosting No. 23 Archbishop Mitty-San Jose (2-1) at San Jose City College. Like St. Francis, Bellarmine dropped its final nonleague game heading into the bye. The Bells fell 38-19 to visiting Gonzaga Prep-Spokane (Wash.). Mitty lost its season-opener 47-21 to No. 19 Sacramento, but has since notched wins over Menlo-Atherton-Atherton and Palo Alto.
The East Bay Athletic League is already in its third week of league play, but its biggest matchup likely happens Sept. 22 when No. 12 San Ramon Valley-Danville (3-0) visits No. 21 California-San Ramon (3-0). A win in this game may not only go a long way in determining the EBAL title, but it may also serve as a tie-breaker for the North Coast Section committee which determines what four teams get bids to the section’s Open Division.
California has won the previous five league meetings between the teams. San Ramon Valley’s last win was a 42-38 triumph in 2011.
TORRID TORRES: While Kaiden Bennett continues to field accolades as the newest Folsom High quarterback to post lofty numbers for the No. 2-ranked Bulldogs, Natomas-Sacramento has a QB putting up almost identical numbers outside of the spotlight.
Adrian Torres, listed as just 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds, has racked up 1,053 passing yards, a 68 percent completion rate, 15 touchdowns and just four interceptions for a Nighthawks that was 3-1 after a 40-39 win over Rosemont-Sacramento on Sept. 15. Bennett’s numbers are 1,072, 69 percent, 15 and 4. Both players are juniors.
— Chace Bryson