Monday Morning Lights: How Los Gatos, Acalanes are getting ready for first state title games

Pittsburg, McClymonds, South San Francisco reflect on season-ending regional championship defeats. Retiring Mack coach: “I said I wouldn’t cry, but this hurts.”


Over the weekend, Los Gatos and Acalanes made school history by winning their first Northern California regional championships and earning a spot in this week’s state finals.

Now comes the difficult part.

The logistics of traveling to Southern California while preparing for the season’s biggest game.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” Los Gatos coach Mark Krail said on a conference call with reporters from around the state on Sunday. “This is the first time we’ve won a regional game.” Last night’s game against El Cerrito was a battle. They were more than we could handle, and we were fortunate to win.

“You go from there to celebrating for a few moments, and then you’re on Hudl looking at the next opponent’s film.” We’re on the move. I’m overjoyed for the kids. Great group of guys who are experiencing this for the first time in our school’s history, which is exciting.”

Acalanes coach Floyd Burnsed said he has been working nonstop since his team’s 49-14 regional victory over Escalon at home on Friday.

“A lot going on,” said Burnsed. “There are a lot of excited people because this is our first trip to a state playoff, which is fantastic.” We exchanged film on Saturday, so we got to see a little bit of Birmingham. They’re extremely impressive. Extremely large. You have good speed. They appear to be a really, really, really good team.”

Serra and De La Salle, the other two Bay Area News Group teams traveling to Southern California this weekend, are both state championship regulars.

DLS will compete in its 16th state final in the 17 seasons since the event’s inception. On Friday, the Spartans will face Mission Viejo at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo.

Serra is competing in its sixth state finals. On Saturday at Saddleback, the Padres will compete for the Open Division championship against Mater Dei-Santa Ana.


The California Interscholastic Federation has traditionally held its five upper-division games at the same location. Not so the following weekend.

Los Gatos of the Central Coast Section will face Central Valley Christian-Visalia of the Central Section for the 2-A state championship on Saturday night at Pasadena City College, rather than at Saddleback as the other upper-division games.

Instead, Acalanes will face Birmingham for the 3-A championship on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at Saddleback.

“We wanted to keep the traditional five games or so at Saddleback,” CIF Associate Executive Director Brian Seymour said on Sunday. “That was our previous practice, as well as everything we’ve done since we started this.” (However, there was an opportunity to relocate a couple of games to locations that made more sense for travel.

“A CCS school and a Central Section school presented an opportunity for Central Valley Christian and Los Gatos.” That seemed more logical, a Saturday night, a marquee game at Pasadena at 7. That’s exactly what happened there.”

The CIF has also traditionally held lower-division games (3-A to 7-A) at home. All 15 games are being played this year at three Southern California community colleges: Saddleback, Pasadena City College, and El Camino College in Torrance.


After his postgame media interview, Michael Peters walked slowly to his McClymonds team to give one last postgame speech after losing the NorCal 3-A title game 35-28 at Marin Catholic on Saturday.

“I just want to say that I love every single one of you guys,” the retiring coach said, his eyes welling up with tears. “I promised myself I wouldn’t cry, but this hurts.” “It’s over; no more Mack football for me.”

In four seasons at McClymonds, Peters won four state championships, six regional titles, and 11 league championships. But, according to his teammates, what Peters did on the field was not what made him a winner.

“Coach Peters is everything to us,” said lineman Sione Vailea. “He’s a father figure to some people here, and he’s definitely a father figure to me.” “I adore him.”

While the 55-year-old coach received statewide acclaim for his many victories, Vailea said she will remember Peters for what he did when the cameras weren’t rolling.

“There will be days at our school where kids won’t eat, and he’ll notice,” Vailea went on to say. “He’ll pay out of his pocket to feed all the players, and even the other students at the school that don’t have anything to eat.”

Peters said he accomplished what he set out to do during his 32-year career at his alma mater, which began in 1992 as an assistant coach.

“To play teams we had never played before, for them to come to our house and be respected the way we are, that’s all I ever wanted,” Peters was quoted as saying. “To re-establish McClymonds on the map.” Everyone in Southern California knows who we are, and it’s not just because of Bill Russell.”


The final postgame huddle of the 2023 Pittsburg season became a testimonial, a tribute, a brotherhood bond that the scoreboard did not break.

Pittsburg fell 28-25 to Folsom in the CIF NorCal Division 1-A regional championship game on Saturday night, with a couple of close calls in the final minutes sealing the Bay Area team’s fate.

Pittsburg coach Charlie Ramirez gathered his players on the opponent’s blue turf after the teams shook hands and Folsom hoisted the championship plaque.

The first-year head coach emphasized everything the team accomplished during its three-plus month journey, which included 13 consecutive victories without a loss until Saturday’s loss.

“I know you guys are hurting right now,” Ramirez admitted. “Just know that all of your pain is because you guys left it all out on the field.” A game like this is the type of game you wanted to end your season with. So, gentlemen, keep your heads held high. We couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you.”

When Ramirez finished, player after player stood up and spoke, demonstrating why this Pittsburg team will be remembered as one of the best in the program’s illustrious history.

“I just want to say it was a blessing to play with y’all,” said lineman Emeril Bridges. “I had a fantastic senior year with all of you boys.” It’s an honor to call you all my brothers.”

“This was probably the most special year of football in my life,” junior quarterback Marley Alcantara added. Every single one of you has touched my heart in ways that no one else has.”


South San Francisco’s storybook run, from not having a varsity football program in 2021 to winning CCS this season, ended with a 42-6 loss to Colusa, according to Frank Moro.

Moro, who began as an assistant during the program’s heyday in the 1980s and coached the team from 2002 to 2013, thought this season was simply a return to form.

“It was like that before,” Moro, who led the team in 2022 before stepping down to become an assistant under current coach Kolone Pua, said. “We were expecting to win. It was a proud program that is now back and fun.”

However, the winning culture did not emerge during this 12-2 season. Last year’s 6-4 team, according to Moro, set the tone for the revived program.

“When we started winning, it just snowballed.” “It began to roll,” Moro explained. “They started expecting to win.”


When asked about his friend, Serra coach Patrick Walsh, adding Southern California powerhouse St. John Bosco to the schedule next season, De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh paused for a moment.

The teams will meet at Serra on September 14 after the San Mateo school begins the season at Folsom on August 30 and De La Salle on September 6.

“He’s up for a challenge,” said Alumbaugh. “I spoke with him last night following our team meeting. He’s adopted the mindset that we have here. Play your hardest. It’s fine if you’re not worthy of beating them all and making it to the (state) Open. You’ll fight for something different.

“They’re going to the Open if he wins league and beats Bosco, us, and Folsom.” They have earned it. He’s a gunfighter. “I wasn’t surprised in the least.”


— With 10.2 seconds left Saturday, Pittsburg receiver Bobby Shaw III made an incredible touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone while being closely defended, cutting the margin to 28-25. Folsom recovered the onside kick and nearly returned it for a touchdown to seal the victory.

— Eighteen of the 30 teams traveling to Southern California this weekend are playing in their first state championship game.

— De La Salle is 7-8 in state championship games, with their most recent victory coming in 2015.

— Serra is 1-4 in state games, with its only win coming in 2017 at the 2-AA level against Cajon (38-14).

— Mission Viejo will compete in its second state championship game. In 2015, the SoCal school won the 1-AA championship by defeating Bellarmine 24-0 in the rain at Sacramento State.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply