Marco Jones pulverizes California as Wolves grit out EBAL victory: ‘Sometimes, you just have to win ugly’

Marco Jones does it all for SRV, Wolves defense picks off three passes as team rebounds from De La Salle loss

SAN RAMON – Marco Jones of San Ramon Valley is a linebacker on the Wolves’ roster and a four-star prospect on college recruiting websites.

But in San Ramon Valley’s 14-0 victory over Cal High on Friday night, the 6-foot-4 junior looked like a five-star running back, safety, and wide receiver, scoring both SRV touchdowns and blanketing the entire field with his athleticism.

San Ramon Valley had six days to process its heartbreaking 33-27 loss to De La Salle, a game in which SRV staged a 15-point comeback in the final four minutes to threaten De La Salle’s 31-year section winning streak.

Jones stated that the team quickly moved on from the loss and that he was just happy to get ready for the next game.

“It feels good to get it out of the way,” Jones said, adding that “we knew it was kind of a trap game, and tried to mentally battle through that.”

While the normally high-flying offense appeared sluggish in the aftermath of such a taxing game, Jones and a ferocious defense were ready to go from the first play until the final snap. SRV limited Cal High to 250 yards rushing, picking up the slack from an offense that struggled to sustain drives.

“Sometimes, you just have to win ugly,” said SRV coach Aaron Becker.

San Ramon Valley led 7-0 until Jones found a soft spot between the linebackers and safeties on the right sideline in the fourth quarter.

With 10:46 remaining in the game, he hauled in Baker’s high-arcing pass and followed blockers into the end zone to give SRV a 14-0 lead.

What was the catalyst for that one-play touchdown drive? Only one of three interceptions for the Wolves in the second half. Jack Horton, Dylan Deitsch, and Max Ellis all intercepted one Cal High pass as a result of a ferocious SRV pass rush led by senior end Mitch Bruno.

“We had to put that (De La Salle game) behind us, strap up, and do our assignments,” he said.

Cal High’s star running back Devan Love, who also played safety, lamented the team’s mistakes on both sides of the ball.

“They played the game of the year last week, but we’ve got guys too,” Love went on to say. “We’re a good team, and it was evident tonight.” We just need to pick up a few things.”

In the first half, the defenses set the tone, with Cal High defending Luke Baker’s passing game better than any other team this season.

The Grizzlies, led by defensive backs like Stavi Booras, limited SRV to 67 passing yards on 16 first-half attempts and less than 300 total yards for the game.

“I’m so proud of those kids,” Calcagno said, referring to his defense team. “It was a good game plan, and the kids played hard.”

However, Jones and the SRV defense stepped up and kept Cal’s talented offense out of the end zone on four first-half drives. Jones ripped through the line and blocked a short field goal attempt on Cal’s best drive of the half.

Baker and company finally broke through at the end of the first half, going on a 14-play, six-minute drive. Baker threw for 158 yards on 15 of 27 attempts.

With 37 seconds left in the half, Jones capped the drive by lining up deep in the I-formation and punching the ball into the end zone for a two-yard touchdown, giving SRV a 7-0 lead that they would take into halftime.

It wasn’t the most beautiful second half, either, but Becker was impressed by his team’s tenacity as it defeated Cal High for the fifth time in a row.

“It was hard to judge where their mind was going to be at and how they were going to play until they got out there,” said Becker.

San Ramon Valley remains in first place in the North Coast Section Division I playoffs. Earlier in the season, Pittsburg defeated California by three points, and SRV defeated BVAL opponent Liberty 66-12.

California (5-3, 1-0) plays its final two games at Clayton Valley and Foothill. San Ramon Valley (7-1, 2-1) will play Foothill next week before wrapping up the regular season at home against Danville rival Monte Vista.

“We’re feeling great,” Bruno stated. “We want to be league champs, and on defense, we want zeroes on the scoreboard after every game.”

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