Monday Morning Lights: How St. Francis’ 2021 victory over De La Salle changed history

De La Salle hasn’t been the same since St. Francis beat the Spartans two years ago. Plus, what makes Serra’s defense so good, Leigh’s turnaround, Oakland’s big win and more.

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No one knows what would have happened if St. Francis hadn’t beaten De La Salle two years ago. That win was huge because De La Salle hadn’t lost to a team from this area in 30 years at the time.

But one thing is clear:

De La Salle hasn’t been the same since St. Francis beat the Spartans 31–28 at home on September 10, 2021.

Since their loss in Mountain View, the Spartans have lost eight times, five of those times to teams from this part of the state.

The most recent loss, on Saturday at Serra, was the most important one so far. It was a year ago that the San Mateo school came back from being down 14 points in the fourth quarter to beat DLS 28–0 on the road.

To be clear, the game on Saturday was pretty close for a long time. Serra was ahead 8-0 going into the last period.

But DLS can’t get away from these numbers:

DLS has been outscored 37-0 in the last two fourth quarters against Serra.

They have been outscored 45-0 in the last five quarters against Serra.

— DLS has been outscored 49-0 in the last seven quarters of this season.

This season, De La Salle lost its first game 35-14 at home to Southern California powerhouse Orange Lutheran. The team is now 0-2 and is getting ready to play its first game at St. Francis since that historic win two years ago.

It was 35–3 for DLS over St. Francis in Concord last year.

Before the game on Saturday, DLS coach Justin Alumbaugh told reporters that his team played better against Serra than it did against Orange Lutheran. He also said that his team will need to keep getting better this week.

“I thought our rough play and effort against Orange Lutheran was horrible,” Alumbaugh said. “Yes, it was. I think this score is a little off, to be honest. I thought that game was very close for most of it. When we were defensive, we hit a lot. We smashed. We had a fight. Things were going much better for us.

“But tired people can’t rest.” Today is Saturday. We play St. Francis next Friday, and they will hit.

Alumbaugh ended by saying, “I know this.” As long as there is a 0 on the board, we will not win. We need to start scoring soon.”


While getting ready for a game against De La Salle, St. Francis coach Greg Calcango thought back to the game that shocked the whole state in 2021.

After Pittsburg beat the Spartans in 1991, the Lancers were the first team from this area to beat them. It was a historic win.

“That was really cool the last time,” Calcagno said. “After COVID, it was the first home game where we could have people in the stands.”

He also said, “I’m sure coach Alumbaugh will remind his team of that, and they’ll be ready to go.”

St. Francis is now 1-0 after beating Monterey Trail-Elk Grove 28-21 on the road last Friday.


It took Serra eight quarters to beat De La Salle and Folsom. They did it in seven of them. The Padres let Folsom score 14 points in the last quarter, which led to their 21-14 win.

Just what is so great about Serra’s D?

“They do hit and tackle,” Alumbaugh said. “That’s how you defend yourself. They are in place. They know how to do things. They are also hard to move out of place.

“They keep each other safe.” When one guy is out of place, another guy shows up. They hit, though. That’s what makes their defense so good. “They hit hard.”


Over the weekend, four of the best teams in the Bay Area went to schools in the Sac-Joaquin Section and won all four games.

Pittsburg beat Granite Bay 41–21 in a game that was close at first.

In other games, Monterey Trail was held off by St. Francis, Jesuit-Carmichael was edged out by St. Ignatius 28–27, and Menlo-Atherton beat Elk Grove 20–14 thanks to a strong defense.

This win made up for last year’s 28-7 loss to Monterey Trail in Mountain View.

The Lancers won on Friday thanks to… their running game. Helix-La Mesa beat St. Francis at home in Week 1, but they came back to beat them this week with three touchdowns from Kingston Keanaaina.

Calcagno said, “Kingston is pretty dang good.” “When he gets the ball, it helps us.”

Calcagno thinks it’s important to play tough opponents.

“You can find out things faster if you get into battle sooner,” he said.


After going 3–7 in 2022, Leigh has been one of the nice surprises of the early season. They are now 2-0.

But maybe it was what they thought would happen.

Late last season, things were looking better. Leigh won its last three games by more than 10 points after starting the season 0-7 with a couple of last-play-of-the-game losses.

Leigh has given up seven points in two games this season. The Longhorns beat Lincoln-San Jose 28–0 in their first game. The win was 21–7 over Pioneer on Friday.

Coach Kyle Padia of Leigh said, “The defense has really taken a step.” “We were quite young last year.”

The San Jose school still doesn’t put a senior on the offensive or defensive line.

Junior defensive end Nik Velikanovs and senior linebacker Reese Schuyler have been two of the best. Schuyler had two sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception against Pioneer.

As player who was hurt comes back to the field, the defense might get stronger.

“We’re really excited about the rest of the year if we can get healthy,” PSaid.


On the bus ride back to the East Bay, Oakland wasn’t exactly having a party after beating Highlands-North Highlands 16-8, which was the team’s first win since 2019.

Coach Terry Hendrix, who is in his first year, said, “It was like, ‘Hey, we did it,’ but at the same time there’s no complacency.” He added that many of his players were instead thinking about what went right and what almost went wrong.

It only took a few plays for Oakland to lose a 16-0 lead in the fourth quarter.

“They had never been there before,” Hendrix said. “Things got tight.”

But the team that usually loses badly pulled through to win.

Ahmiollion Brown ran for two touchdowns, and quarterback Rah’Shaan Buffin ran for 117 yards to finish off the win. Hendrix hopes this is the first of many wins to come.

Hendrix said, “I don’t want them to think this is the first and last win.” “They should act like they’ve been here before.”


Oakland’s defense was on point in their 40-0 win over Bellarmine on Friday at San Jose City College, which was the first game of the season.

The Warriors, who had just lost an upper-division state championship game the previous year, limited Bellarmine to -15 yards on the ground and 27 yards through the air. Seven times, they fired the Bells.

The schedule will get tougher, though.

Mack plays Bishop O’Dowd on Friday, then goes to San Ramon Valley on September 15 and De La Salle on September 29.

Long-time Mack coach Michael Peters laughed and said, “I was a little punch-drunk from the state game when I took the schedule.” “I’m not sure who won tonight at Bishop O’Dowd (O’Dowd beat Skyline 50-0).”

“But the games against San Ramon and De La Salle will be tough.” We just barely beat San Ramon last year. They threw for 500 yards and hit us. We need to fix that up a bit, and then De La Salle will be De La Salle, man.”

Luke Baker, a senior at SRV, threw for 513 yards and five touchdowns in a 45–42 loss to Mack.

He said, “I call him Drew Brees.” “The boys and Drew Brees need our attention.” We need to keep getting better.



Amador Valley (1-1) at Acalanes (0-2), 7 p.m.: AV shut out Campo on Friday. Third tough game in a row for Acalanes.

Serra (2-0) at Central Catholic-Modesto (2-1): Central Catholic, which lost to St. Mary’s-Stockton 42-33 two weeks ago, will present a challenge for the Padres.

Bishop O’Dowd (1-1) at McClymonds (1-0), 7 p.m.: Oakland schools meet for the first time since 2012, a 33-26 O’Dowd victory.

Los Gatos (2-0) vs. Grant-Sacramento (2-1), TBA: Los Gatos, which was scheduled to play Live Oak on Friday, posted on social media Monday afternoon that it was no longer playing the Morgan Hill school and instead would be facing Grant. The site will be announced Tuesday, Los Gatos noted.

De La Salle (0-2) at St. Francis (1-1), 7:30 p.m.: De La Salle hasn’t opened a season without a win after three games since 2004 (0-2-1).


Sacred Heart Prep (1-1) at Palo Alto (2-0), 7 p.m.: The schedule is about to get harder for Palo Alto. Vikings play SHP, Los Gatos and Menlo-Atherton in the next three weeks.

Clayton Valley (1-1) at Oak Ridge (3-0), 7 p.m.: CV has already won one hard road game (Salinas in Week 1). Can it make it two?

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