Luke Baker Led Two Fourth-Quarter Game-Tying Drives Before Falling To Granite Hills-El Cajon In Overtime Of CIF 2-A State Final
Though the result wasn’t what the San Ramon Valley-Danville football team hoped for, a first trip the California Interscholastic Federation state bowl championships will leave a lot to remember.
In reality, the entire 2022 season will be one to remember for the Wolves. A 31-24 overtime loss to Granite Hills-El Cajon in the CIF Division 2-A state bowl game won’t erase an entire year of success for a squad that came together when it mattered most.
“The seniors on our team, they deserved this,” said junior quarterback Luke Baker. “One of my best friends on the team, Gavin Jones, tore his ACL at McClymonds in week five and he was on pace to break so many records. I was playing for him. One of my best friends, Caleb Padrid, the leader of our team. We all deserved this. I just wish I could’ve done a little bit more to make that happen for the guys.”
Even despite the result, a back and forth second half saw San Ramon Valley (12-3) make the big plays it needed to over and over again.
And, as he has all season, Baker led the charge. With the Wolves trailing by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Baker had the answer San Ramon Valley needed.
Facing 4th and goal from the 5, he took all the time he could in the pocket, decided to pull it down and head for the end zone. Baker slipped one defender, lunged for the goal line, and broke the plane standing up to tie the score at 21 with 5:56 to play.
A field goal by Granite Hills’ Robert Petrich put the Eagles back in front, but the hero of the Northern Regional game, Austin Shelton, was ready to counter for San Ramon Valley. A 37-yard field goal by the Wolves’ junior kicker knotted the score with 14 seconds left and kept hope alive.
Granite Hills (13-2) scored first in overtime, forging ahead on a 2-yard run by Isaiah Jackson, his second of the day. San Ramon Valley got its chance to possess the ball, but on 4th and 10 from the 15-yard line, a pass to the right sideline fell incomplete to end the game.
“We were down the whole game and we’ve been in situations like this before,” Baker said. “Nothing changes for me, nothing changes for the offense. I just tried to complete passes and get first downs. I wish that last play was a little more inside. We could’ve converted. We would’ve gone for two and we would’ve scored and we would be the ones celebrating right now.”
A back and forth second half featured several momentum swings. Baker found Trevor Scott for touchdown passes of 38 and 4 yards while Granite Hills got rushing touchdowns from Maxwell Turner and Jackson.
Defenses ruled the early stages of the game, with both teams struggling to find their footing on offense.
Granite Hills got the first chance, missing a 25-yard field goal late in the first quarter, and a fumble recovery by San Ramon Valley gave the Wolves some momentum early in the second quarter.
But, after a Wolves drive stalled at their own 40-yard line, Granite Hills took advantage to make the first mark on the scoreboard. Parlan Sanders, who split time at quarterback throughout the day with Nico Tomasello, took the top off the defense to connect with Davion Green, finding the senior receiver for a 35-yard touchdown with 4:16 left in the second quarter.
San Ramon Valley got one more chance before the end of the half thanks to an interception by Owen Scott, but the Eagles countered with an interception of their own as Easton Peterson brought the Wolves’ drive to an end with 17 seconds left.
Baker played the role of offensive catalyst as always, finishing with 185 yards and two touchdowns passing while also leading the Wolves in rushing with 44 yards on 19 carries. Scott had 86 yards receiving in addition to the two TD catches.
A fantastic crowd made the trek to Southern California to support the Wolves, and while it rained in the Bay Area, fans in attendance got treated to a clear Southern California day.
That support has been constant throughout the season, as the Wolves picked up a win over Campolindo-Moraga in the North Coast Section Division 2 final and a victory over Marin Catholic-Kentfield in the CIF Northern Regional game to earn their first trip to a state bowl.
“It was pretty great. It really was,” San Ramon Valley coach Aaron Becker said of the state bowl experience. “We talked about it last night that if we were one of the 3-AA games or below that we’d have been hosting at home in the rain. This made it feel like it was going to a really big game, which it is.”