Throwback domination: De La Salle goes old-school, routs Clovis North to win a NorCal championship

De La Salle Spartans dominate Clovis North to advance to Division 1-AA state title game against Mission Viejo

Clovis North brought busloads of fans, a cheerleading squad, and dozens of band members to Concord. It turned the visiting bleachers blue and placed a massive inflatable Bronco behind one of the end zones.

De La Salle’s response was classic football.

The Spartans dominated this California Interscholastic Federation Division 1-AA regional championship game from start to finish, routing their previously undefeated opponent 41-0 in a throwback to the Concord school’s storied past.

The visitors felt they deserved to play at home because they were 13-0, while De La Salle had two losses, to Orange Lutheran and Serra.

But, given what happened, would location have accounted for six touchdowns?

“We knew they were coming in with a chip on their shoulder, but so were we,” DLS running back Derrick Blanche said after gaining 136 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries in the first half. “I think we were the underdogs because they were undefeated and we were not.”

De La Salle led 13-0 after one quarter and 33-0 at the half. The Spartans advanced to the 1-AA state championship game for the second year in a row by playing the entire fourth quarter with a running clock.

They will face Mission Viejo, who defeated Granite Hills 49-21.

When the game was over and DLS coach Justin Alumbaugh was being interviewed by reporters, the Spartans’ program’s architect, Bob Ladouceur, stopped by to greet the man who succeeded him a decade ago.

“Big Daddy liked it,” said Alumbaugh.

He couldn’t help himself.

De La Salle (11-2) returned to the offense that propelled it to national prominence — the veer option — and punished its Central Valley visitors from the start.

DLS won the coin toss and chose to go on the offensive first.

The Spartans took a 6-0 lead after driving 65 yards in nine plays, all of which were runs. Toa Faavae’s 2-yard sneak set up the touchdown. The PAT was ineffective.

“The films that we had, it just looked like everybody was running the spread at them,” Alumbaugh told me. “All right, let’s get downhill on them as quickly as we can and go right at these guys.” Get our players off the ball and our runners downhill. This is the veer.

“We wanted to win the toss, take the ball, and go down and score.” Because they’re a running team, this could have gone horribly wrong. That game clock could run out if they stop us and get some first downs.”

The clock did indeed run out, but in De La Salle’s favor.

Clovis North led 26-0 when it got its first first down with 3:06 remaining before halftime.

Blanche’s 1-yard touchdown run with 16 seconds remaining capped a 60-yard series that began with 1:25 remaining.

The 33-0 score was reflected in the halftime statistics. De La Salle outgained Clovis North 239 yards to 42 in the first two quarters, with the Spartans gaining 208 yards on the ground.

“We knew they were going to be physical; we trained all week for it,” said DLS linebacker/tight end Andrew Cunningham. “We wanted to get the ball as soon as possible, drive all the way down, and send a message.” We shoved it down their throats to see how they would react. We knew if we kept doing what we were doing, we’d be successful.”

The Spartans didn’t slow down in the first half of what was easily their most impressive win of the season.

Faavae scored twice on the ground and threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Landon Cook.

In the third quarter, Jaden Jefferson scored on an 81-yard run down the right sideline.

A statement has been made. Statement received.

“We loved it all,” Cunningham said. “Hearing all of those complaints about it not being in Fresno. We were just relieved to have one more game at Owen Owens. We thought it was completely disrespectful to do that on our field after seeing that Bronco and the buses they brought.

“That was something we took to heart. “We took it very personally.”

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