CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Dec. 10, 2022) — De La Salle returned to a California State Bowl game Friday evening for the first time since 2019 and the Spartans came away on the short end of a wild 33-28 score to Lincoln of San Diego, ending a season the legendary De La Salle football program might call the “PITs.”
As has been the case too many times in the past two seasons, it was penalties, injuries and turnovers that cost De La Salle the chance to win its eighth state championship since 2006. Instead, coach Justin Alumbaugh’s team lost the last game of a full season for the sixth straight time. All but the final game of the 2021 season have been in a CIF bowl game.
From 2009 to 2015 the Spartans won six of seven State Open Division championships. That was before the Saint John Bosco and Mater Dei high school teams in Southern California became little more than college football factories. This year’s national championship Bosco team reportedly has 41 future Division I players on its team.
Bosco and Mater Dei each defeated De La Salle twice in the open division finals between 2016 and 2019. This year was only the second time DLS played in the second top state bowl game, the first in 2008 was also a losing effort to Centennial-Corona.
Lincoln (fourth) was ranked higher than the Spartans (12th) in MaxPrep’s state rankings and the Hornets were favored slightly heading into the 1-AA championship game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo. De La Salle had never previously lost to a San Diego Section school.
The game turned from a scoreless defensive struggle until four minutes remained in the first half to a back and forth offensive battle that was ultimately decided by the excellence of Georgia-commit Lincoln running back Roderick Robinson and two critical turnovers and untimely penalties as the Spartans first gave up the lead and then were turned away from a classic comeback in the last seconds of the game.
The injury bug that followed De La Salle all season was at a near low point for the finale but the team’s No. 1 ranked college prospect Cooper Flanagan—headed for Notre Dame—was out for the second playoff game in a row and his absence was felt on both sides of the ball.
Sophomore quarterback Toa Faavae and his classmate Derrick Blanche hooked up on a long fourth-down pass in the final minute putting the Spartans in a position to score the winning touchdown before a penalty set the team back 10 yards and they never gained any yardage on the final plays of the game.
Last December’s lineup of California State Bowl games did not include De La Salle for the first time since its inception in 2006. The Spartans then began this season splitting its first six games including two home losses.
That early season record included a 24-20 loss in Concord to Folsom, the team that knocked the Spartans out of the CIF playoffs last season in the Northern California Regional Division I championship game 28-27.
The Concord school got a measure of revenge with Folsom as they went to the school in the Sierra foothills and came away with a 17-14 win.
The NorCal title win by De La Salle evened a two-year slate of four games between DLS and Folsom with the visiting team winning all four.
The Spartans fell behind 7-0 before scoring the next 17 points. Folsom pulled within 17-14 but De La Salle was able to mount a late drive to run out the clock.
Earlier in November De La Salle won its 30th consecutive North Coast Section championship over Pittsburg 30-23 in another one-score game, which maintain the Spartans last historic “streak” of not losing to a NCS opponent since the start of the 1992 season.
Clayton Valley Charter falls game short
Clayton Valley Charter made it to the Division I Section championship game for the second year in a row but fell 13-3 in a defensive struggle at Pittsburg as the Pirates were trying to keep coach Victor Galli’s final season from ending.
The Ugly Eagles put up some classic defensive stands at Pittsburg but CVCHS was held without a touchdown for the first time since the last game of the 2016 season when De La Salle blanked them 28-0 in the North Coast Section semi-finals 68 games ago.
Pitt extended its season to the ultimate game by defeating visiting Manteca 35-14 in a NorCal Regional in Galli’s final home game as head coach after two decades leading his hometown team. That win earned them a rematch with Liberty of Bakersfield. The schools met in the Norcal Regional game in Bakersfield last December and the home team defeated Pitt 35-7.
Final 2022 Season Results
Clayton Valley Charter 8-5, 4-0 (Open Div./Div. 1) – 8/26 Salinas L 14-21, 9/2 Del Oro-Loomis L 27-31, 9/9 at Canyon Springs-North Las Vegas W 42-6, 9/16 Turlock L 35-37, 10/1 at Jesuit-Carmichael W 35-21, 10/7 at Amador Valley-Pleasanton W 47-14, 10/14 at San Ramon Valley-Danville W 42-28, 10/21 California-San Ramon W 49-14, 10/28 at Monte Vista-Danville W 55-6, 11/4 De La Salle L 6-42, 11/11 California-San Ramon W 42-21, 11/18 Liberty-Brentwood W 21-13, 11/25 vs Pittsburg at Heritage L 3-13.
College Park 7-4, 5-0 (Div. 3) – 9/2 at Foothill-Pleasanton L 12-28, 9/9 Oakmont-Roseville W 21-13, 9/16 Hercules W 44-6, 9/23 at Northgate L 14-28, 9/30 at Livermore L 8-35, 10/7 Concord W 34-28, 10/15 at Berean Christian W 42-25, 10/21 Ygnacio Valley W 84-0, 10/28 Mt. Diablo W 54-6, 11/4 at Alhambra W 47-6, 11/11 at Windsor L 15-41.
Concord 9-2, 4-1 (Div. 4) – 8/26 Newark Memorial-Newark W 14-7, 9/2 Alameda W 30-8, 9/9 at San Lorenzo W 37-0, 9/16 at Richmond W 2-0, 9/23 Arroyo-San Lorenzo W 28-6, 10/7 at College Park L 28-34, 10/14 Ygnacio Valley W 54-8, 10/21 at Alhambra W 14-7, 10/28 Berean Christian W 34-12, 11/4 at Mt. Diablo W 42-7, 11/11 at Acalanes – Lafayette L 0-42.
De La Salle 10-4 (Open Div./Div. 1) – 8/26 at Monterey Trail-Elk Grove W 36-20, 9/2 Serra-San Mateo L 21-24, 9/9 Saint Francis-Mountain View W 35-3, 9/16 at Cathedral Catholic-San Diego W 28-20, 9/23 Folsom L 20-24, 10/7 at St. Mary’s-Stockton L 35-45, 10/14 at California-San Ramon W 41-7, 10/21 Monte Vista–Danville W 41-3, 10/28 at Amador Valley-Pleasanton W 27-7, 11/4 at Clayton Valley Charter W 42-6, 11/11 James Logan-Union City W 40-14, 11/18 Pittsburg W 30-23, 12/2 at Folsom NorCal Regional Bowl W 17-14, 12/9 CIF 1-AA Bowl Game Lincoln-San Diego L 28-33.
Mt. Diablo 3-7, 1-4 (Div. 4) – 8/26 Lathrop L 0-56, 9/9 at American-Fremont L 0-48, 9/17 at Arroyo-San Lorenzo L 0-28, 9/24 at San Lorenzo W 27-6, 9/30 at Richmond W 35-14, 10/7 at Ygnacio Valley W 35-28, 10/14 Alhambra L 0-35, 10/21 Berean Christian L 20-49, 10/28 at College Park L 6-54, 11/4 Concord L 7-42.
Northgate 7-5, 1-4 (Div. 3) – 8/26 Deer Valley W 29-8, 9/2 at Ukiah W 28-6, 9/9 Fremont-Oakland W 9-0, 9/16 at Bethel-Vallejo W 38-0, 9/23 College Park W 28-14, 10/7 Miramonte-Orinda L 35-43, 10/14 Las Lomas L 7-34, 10/21 at Campolindo-Moraga L 7-50, 10/28 at Benicia W 9-7, 11/4 Acalanes-Lafayette L 14-33, 11/11 at Las Lomas W 24-21, 11/18 at El Cerrito L 6-47.
Ygnacio Valley 0-10, 0-5 (Div. 6) – 8/27 at Washington-San Francisco L 14-49, 9/9 Justin-Siena – Napa L 0-42, 9/16 at Kennedy-Fremont L 12-50, 9/23 Bradshaw Christian-Sacramento L 0-48, 9/30 Stone Ridge Christian-Merced L 6-38, 10/7 Mt. Diablo L 28-35, 10/14 at Concord L 8-54, 10/21 at College Park L 0-84, 10/28 Alhambra L 12-31, 11/5 at Berean Christian L 6-47.
Jay Bedecarré is a long-time resident and writer in Concord and Clayton. He began his newspaper writing career while still a senior at Mt. Diablo High School and he has been part of The Pioneer since its inception in 2003. Jay also operates Bay Area Festivals, presenting events around the San Francisco Bay Area including Bay Area KidFest annually in Downtown Concord.