Strong Senior Core And Mix Of Younger Talent Helps Foothill Clinch Share Of East Bay Valley Division Crown •
TOP PHOTO: Foothill Gathers For A Team Photo To Celebrate Clinching At Least A Share Of The EBAL-Valley Division Title. (Ben Enos photo)
As the Foothill-Pleasanton football team celebrated a 24-10 win over host Dublin that clinched at least a share of the Falcons’ second-straight East Bay Athletic League-Valley Division title, both players and coaches stood proud of just how far their team has come.
Four years ago, this type of success might have seemed a bit more unlikely.
After going 1-9 as a freshman team in 2018, the seniors that now make up the nucleus of coach Greg Haubner’s squad appear as tight-knit as a group of high schoolers can be. They have worked together and grown up together, evolving into a physical, talented bunch that has combined with a handful of impactful underclassmen to take the Falcons back to the top of the league standings.
Against Dublin, the next-man-up mentality of the Falcons was on full display. After putting Foothill up 14-3 with a 57-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, senior Tony Schillaci had to come off to treat a leg injury. In stepped sophomore Jackson Chandler, who handled the bulk of the rushing load so Schillaci could return on defense.
That depth paid off as Schillaci eventually forced a fumble that ended a key Dublin drive and led to a Gaels punt with just under six minutes to play. Two plays later, senior quarterback Nick Walsh cashed that opportunity in, stumbling through the right side of his offensive line on a what looked like a mundane quarterback keeper. When nobody tackled him, he kept right on running for an 84-yard touchdown run that sealed the Falcons’ win.
“I was about to go down after a few yards but I saw open field and took off,” Walsh said. “I remember in eighth grade in Pop Warner that I got caught in our championship game on an 80-yard run that wasn’t a touchdown. I was thinking of that and I turned on the jets.”
Foothill’s melding of senior leadership and youthful talent was perhaps no more evident than on defense. At one point in the fourth quarter, Foothill’s defense featured six seniors, one junior, three sophomores and a freshman.
Sophomores Chandler and Samear Lattier, along with senior Kenny Olson, all had interceptions on the night while junior Kade Millard also recovered a fumble. By the time the final buzzer sounded, that mixture of young and old had limited Dublin to just 151 yards of total offense despite the fact that the Falcons’ offense put its defense’s back against the wall with three first-half turnovers of its own.
“Next man up,” Olson said. “We believe in the juniors and sophomores on our team. In practice, everyone works their butt off. When one person goes down, the next person is going to step up and hand that opportunity off.”
“We’ve had some injuries but our second-string players play with heart too,” added Schillaci. “That’s what makes us such a good team.”
Each senior can recall where the push for the current team’s success started. So can Haubner, who has watched his upperclassmen grow from freshmen searching for success to seniors who now set the tone for a team that ranks among the region’s best. The Falcons will look to wrap up an outright league title on Friday when they travel to Granada-Livermore for their regular season finale.
“Every one of their losses (as freshmen) was a one-score game. It was very, very painful to observe that because I knew the character of the kids, I knew the heart of the kids and I knew their ability,” Haubner said. “I’m not taking shots against them. It was a tough season but they didn’t quit. They’ve stuck with it for four years now and here they are at 7-2 with a chance to win a league title with a win over Granada.”
From Foothill To The Mountain
While Foothill seemed to simplify things in the Valley Division, the EBAL Mountain Division gained a lot more intrigue.
There are scenarios where as many as three different teams could still be crowned champion with just two weeks to play. But the one thing we know for sure is that Monte Vista-Danville (7-0, 2-0) is in control of its own destiny. After beating California-San Ramon 27-22 on Friday night, the Mustangs can clinch at least a share of the title with a win over Clayton Valley-Concord this week.
Monte Vista’s undefeated start grows more impressive by the week as CJ Anderson’s squad continues to prove it can win in different ways. This week, it took a lead with Nathan Wright’s 59-yard touchdown run on the second play of the game — and never trailed.
While quarterback Dyllan Devitt threw a pair of touchdown passes and rushed for one as well, it was Mustangs tailback Rocco Schramm who may have been the team’s MVP in the win. The senior had a career-high 31 carries for 141 yards, with eight of those carries coming in a nine-plus minute, fourth-quarter drive that basically ran the clock out on California’s chance at a comeback.
“Whatever the game calls for,” Anderson said with a laugh when learning Schramm topped 30 carries. “He ran really hard. He’s done a heckuva job for us this season.”
NORCAL TOP 20 RESULTS
- No. 1 ST. FRANCIS-MTN. VIEW def. No. 9 BELLARMINE-SAN JOSE 44-24
- No. 2 DE LA SALLE-CONCORD def. SAN RAMON VALLEY-DANVILLE 48-14
- No. 3 SERRA-SAN MATEO def. St. Ignatius-S.F. 38-19
- No. 4 ROCKLIN def. Grant-Sacramento 29-17
- No. 5 FOLSOM def. Whitney-Rocklin 52-14
- No. 6 PITTSBURG def. Deer Valley-Antioch 50-6
- No. 8 VALLEY CHRISTIAN-SAN JOSE def. Mitty-San Jose 42-20
- No. 10 CENTRAL CATHOLIC-MODESTO def. East Union-Manteca 38-27
- No. 11 JESUIT-CARMICHAEL def. Davis 41-15
- No. 12 ST. MARY’S-STOCKTON def. West-Tracy 71-0
- No. 13 MENLO-ATHERTON-ATHERTON def. Terra Nova-Pacifica 38-17
- No. 14 MCCLYMONDS-OAKLAND def. Fremont-Oakland 54-0
- No. 15 EDISON-STOCKTON def. McNair-Stockton 65-7
- No. 18 CALIFORNIA-SAN RAMON LOST to Monte Vista-Danville 27-22
- No. 19 SALINAS def. Seaside 47-0
- No. 20 CLAYTON VALLEY-CONCORD def. Amador Valley-Pleasanton 21-17