For Pittsburg Football, The Future Is Now; PLUS We Reveal Three More NorCal Top 20 Teams, And Play Trivia At Las Lomas-Walnut Creek •
This is the eighth of 20 installments to our Return To Fall Series — a daily component to our 2021 NorCal Football Preview coverage.
Interview Pittsburg football coach Victor Galli enough times and you’re bound to get the occasional hint that he’s thinking about hanging it up. For the past four or five years, he’s suggested “going just a couple more years.”
As he stood and watched a ton of talented underclassmen race across the practice field earlier this week, Galli held a slight smirk and kept that timeline noticeably vague.
“I’ve got maybe two to five more years,” he said.
No one in the East Bay coaching community could blame him. Now in his 20th season with Pittsburg football, Galli has a roster dominated by a 2023 class that boasts some of the best talent the coach has ever had. Which is saying something considering the ample success the program has seen over his first two decades.
Headlining that talent is the 4-star duo of quarterback Jaden Rashada and receiver Rashid Williams. Rashada is taking over the offense full time after splitting reps with now-graduated Eli Brickhandler during Pittsburg’s undefeated spring. Williams was Galli’s first ever varsity freshman in 2019 and immediately contributed. His sophomore year lasted only two quarters though after separating his shoulder in the team’s spring opener.
Other heavily talented underclassmen includes juniors WR/DB Israel Polk, WR/DB Keynan Higgins, WR/DB Khai Taylor, WR/DB Zach Card, RB/FS Charles Brown and WR/DB Buddha Boyd. There’s also freshman WR Jadyn Hudson, who has Pirates coaches gushing the same way they did about Williams two years ago.
Seniors will play a role for the Pirates too, of course. Jacobe Harmon is a returning all-league starter at linebacker, and CJ Falavei-Kindness will be a key returner on the lines. Running back Kai Green and WR/DB Rick Camacho Jr. will also have an impact this season.
“It’s exciting,” Galli admitted. “But at the same time we want to proceed with a little caution. We’re going to go through the gauntlet, and we haven’t seen live bullets like these since 2019, really.”
Pittsburg’s 5-0 spring came only against Bay Valley Athletic League schools with the closest margin of victory being a 19-point win over Heritage-Brentwood. The fall schedule is indeed a gauntlet.
Of the Pirates five nonleague opponents, four will be Top 10 teams in SportStars’ Preseason NorCal Top 20 Rankings. Their first two opponents — Serra-San Mateo and Folsom — will be in the Top 5. The combined spring record of all five opponents? 22-2. Gauntlet.
It’s nothing new to Galli though, who has always schedule tough in normal years.
“When it’s all said and done, you’re gonna have to produce on the field in a game setting against really good programs,” the coach said.
Brown may prove to be an x-factor against defenses that will surely key on all the talent in the passing game. He ended up sitting out the spring season, which paved the way for Daytuawn Pearson to have a breakout senior season. However, Galli believes Brown could be an even bigger playmaker.
“He’s an electrifying athlete,” Galli said. “He’s got a very high football IQ and just has the “It” Factor. … Very good nose on defense, too. He’s not going to leave the field too much.”
Finally, a revival of the Pirates Stadium atmosphere may be more valuable than any one player. Limited attendance and no Marching Show Band left Pittsburg football game nights a little flat there in the spring.
The Pirates open at home on Aug. 27, and not just Pittsburg, but a lot of NorCal will be watching.
PRESEASON NORCAL TOP 20 RANKINGS: Nos. 17-15
Today we continue a week-long reveal of our Preseason NorCal Top 20 Football Rankings, leading up to our Football Preview issue’s release on Aug. 18.
You can find Nos. 20-18 in the Return To Fall post from Aug. 11.
17. EDISON-STOCKTON (3-1 in Spring 2021)
Edison has been a rising program for a few seasons now, having gone 19-5 over the last two full seasons in 2018 and 2019. The Vikings nearly knocked off Folsom in the 2019 Sac-Joaquin Section Div. I playoffs, before falling 45-42. Those teams were led by Oklahoma commit Raleek Brown, who’s now a senior at Mater Dei after transferring prior to his junior season. Now the team is led by another dynamic running back, Jaylen Blacksher. He’s one of 14 returning starters (8 offense, 6 defense) from a spring team that went 3-1. Other key returnees will be senior receiver Johnathan Taylor and senior corner Keoni Lindsay.
FIRST GAME: Aug. 20 vs. Lincoln-Stockton
16. LOS GATOS (5-0)
The Wildcats were especially dominant during the spring season, outscoring opponents 221-56 and averaging nearly 375 yards of offense per game. The team has big shoes to fill in replacing league MVP and SportStars All-NorCal running back Adam Garwood, but much of the core returns. That’s especially true on defense where recent Boise State commit, Jake Ripp, will lead a group that includes six returning starters. Coach Mark Krail will also be able to fill gaps from a junior varsity squad that also went 5-0 over March and April.
FIRST GAME: Aug. 27 vs. Oak Grove-San Jose
15. ST. FRANCIS-MOUNTAIN VIEW (3-2)
Despite one of the younger rosters in the West Catholic Athletic League last spring, the Lancers were an overtime loss away to finishing 4-1. That OT loss came against Valley Christian-San Jose, a team that will begin the year ranked near the Top 10. St. Francis will return 11 of its starters, and like Los Gatos, will be integrating players from an undefeated JV roster. Key returnees include senior two-way RB/LB standout Camilo Arquette and senior RB/DB Nico Andrighetto.
FIRST GAME: Aug. 27 at Central Catholic-Modesto
ROLL TAPE: Trivia Fun With The Las Lomas Knights
On our training camp stop at Las Lomas-Walnut Creek on Tuesday, we asked seniors Aiden Rice and Dimond Loosli to take part in some trivia about their school and hometown.
COMING IN TOMORROW’S RETURN TO FALL RELEASE: More Preseason Top 20 Teams Are Revealed, Plus A Team Spotlight On El Cerrito And Much More!