Spartans, Ugly Eagle both in State Bowl games

Shamar Garrett EBAL co-MVP. See related story, click here.

There are 1,367 cities in California but only Concord has two high school football teams playing in CIF State championship bowl games this weekend after Clayton Valley Charter’s incredible comeback win last Friday evening at rainy Gonsalves Stadium put the Ugly Eagles in the title game, joining perennial state finalists De La Salle among the 28 schools from throughout the State taking part in Friday and Saturday’s finals.

Nick Moseley (left) and Lance Hackett grew up on the football field playing for the Clayton Valley Falcons. They had started hanging around the local youth football program watching older brothers play. Hackett’s dad Jonathon always made sure the boys had snacks, especially Moseley’s favorite, Ritz Crackers. After playing youth football together for seven years Moseley went to Pittsburg High and Hackett to De La Salle. They met for the final time on the high school gridiron last month in the North Coast Section championship game where DLS prevailed. But as was their custom for all those years, coach Hackett made sure that Moseley got his Ritz. (Photo courtesy De La Salle football)

Clayton Valley Charter was facing near certain defeat in the Northern California Regional Division 2-AA finals when they fell behind 26-14 to Elk Grove with less than five minutes remaining on a touchdown that may have been a lost fumble. The Ugly Eagles rallied for two TDs in the final 2:22 to pull out a 28-26 victory.

3 De La Salle baseball players from 2019 State Team of Year now in State football championship in the fall – Vince Bianchina, Charles McAdoo, Zeke Berry.

That gives CVCHS (9-5) its third State Bowl berth under head coach Tim Murphy since 2014. They meet Aquinas of San Bernardino at 4 p.m. Friday in the 2-AA finale at Cerritos College in Norwalk.

Aquinas (13-2) is riding a 13-game winning streak into the championship game following their 24-10 Southern California Regional championship win over San Juan Hills at the same time Clayton Valley was pulling off its miracle win.

De La Salle (12-1) sat out the Regional Bowl games as the Spartans qualified for their 14th successive State Bowl championship game a week earlier with a 49-7 win over long-time rivals Pittsburg when De La Salle racked up its 28th straight North Coast Section title. Since DLS has gone 310 games without a loss to a team north of Fresno dating back to 1992 they were again seeded directly into the State Open Division championship.

There the Concord team meets America’s No. 1 ranked St. John Bosco (12-1) of Bellflower. The game is the grand finale of the CIF Bowl Series at Cerritos College Saturday night at 8 p.m. Bosco fell behind then No. 1 Mater Dei 28-5 late in the first half of their Southern Section championship game before scoring 34 straight points and pulling off a stunning comeback 39-34.

Like DLS in the North, the Southern Section champ was automatically placed in the State Open finals.

Coach Justin Alumbaugh’s De La Salle team began the season back on Aug. 23 facing then-No. 1 ranked St. Thomas Aquinas of Ft. Lauderdale, FL and lost a mistake-prone game they could have won. They are undefeated since and finish up against the new No. 1 team Bosco, which beat the Spartans in the 2013 and 2017 State finals.

Both State games involving the local teams will be telecast.

Ugly Eagles roar back

Photo courtesy CVCHS Football
Clayton Valley Charter won its third Northern California Regional Bowl game since 2014 and this one came in astounding fashion. Playing a strong Elk Grove team, the Ugly Eagles found themselves 12 points behind with the clock winding down in the fourth quarter. Two long touchdown passes from Jake Kern and an end zone interception put CVCHS into the State Bowl Game this Friday afternoon against Aquinas of San Bernardino. The Ugly Eagles celebrated their 28-26 victory in the Gonsalves Stadium end zone.

Junior quarterback Jake Kerns, seldom relied on for his passing, completed touchdown throws of 40 and 42 yards in those closing minutes last Friday when CVCHS battled a stout Elk Grove team and a steady rain for the unlikely come-from-behind win.

MaxPreps senior writer Mitch Stephens summed up the unlikely scenario in a tweet: “Clayton —- no pass – Eagles. Crazy finish.”

Following the Elk Grove touchdown with 4:54 remaining in the fourth quarter, Kern and his offense went on an 11-play, 76-yard drive to pull close. However, it wasn’t a typical Ugly Eagles run-run-run series. They had a 71-yard touchdown run called back on a penalty. With fourth down and 10 at the Elk Grove 40-yard line Kern hit Rayshawn Jackson for a scoring strike to pull his team within 26-21.

Clayton Valley Charter failed on the ensuing onside kick and Elk Grove needed a single first down to ice their first-ever State Bowl game berth. Kavika Baumgartner and the defense stopped a quarterback sneak a yard short on fourth down and CVCHS took over with 1:22 left on the game clock.

On the third play of that series Kern, who transferred from De La Salle to CVCHS, hit Seth Gwynn down the right sideline and Gwynn carried it in for a 42-yard catch and run. The Eagles were up by two, but Elk Grove wasn’t finished as it had taken only 20 seconds for Clayton Valley to score the go-ahead TD.

The Thundering Herd drove deep into scoring territory before Charlie Saylor intercepted in the end zone to secure the host team a memorable victory. Elk Grove had one point-after miss, one blocked and had a two-point conversion stopped. Those ultimately became the margin of victory for Clayton Valley Charter.

Runningback Omari Taylor, a standout as CVCHS won three consecutive NCS games to reach the NorCal Regionals, gained 126 years on 23 carries and scored the first two CVCHS TDs in the back and forth contest.

“Nights like this make it all worth it,” Murphy told reporters after the game. “Seeing the smile on the kids’ faces, seeing all the parents happy. Man, it does make it worth it. Amazing. Down two touchdowns that late, it’s so impressive what these high school kids did.”

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