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As players ran to each other and celebrated the moment, Saturday evening in San Ramon showed just how hard every game is in the East Bay Athletic League
California underwent a coaching change in the offseason, during as unique of an offseason as ever, with much of the world going to the virtual landscape. Zoom meetings. Learning the playbook from home.
On top of that, the Grizzlies completely changed their scheme under head coach Danny Calcagno, whose team now runs a spread offense after the ground and pound teams of years past out of the I-formation consistently.
All of that added to the difficulties of this season, but No. 24 California (2-1) never wavered, never quit – and all of it showed in a thrilling 38-31 overtime victory over No. 17 Monte Vista (0-3).
“Obviously winning is always better than losing,” Calcagno said. “I was just really proud of the kids fighting all the way until the very end, all the way until the last play. It would have been kind of easy to put their heads down going into overtime, them kicking that field goal, but they did a great job of battling. Very proud of them.”
The score was never more than one possession on either side, as each play proved a crucial difference in a game that came down to the very end.
Junior tight end Jack Endries – who holds Fresno State and UNLV offers – put Monte Vista ahead again on a 19-yard strike from junior quarterback Dyllan Devitt, as Endries could not be brought down with 42.4 seconds left in the third quarter.
But that big play was only the beginning of what was about to ensue.
Senior Josh Gerlach intercepted a pass for Cal when Monte Vista was driving, later leading to a 58-yard touchdown catch from receiver Jake Calcagno, who turned on the moves and stiff-armed a defender, which put the Grizzlies up 24-21 with 7:01 remaining.
“That was crazy,” Jake Gerlach said. “I’ve got to give props to my o-line and Teddy Booras, the QB, No. 9. He makes me look good constantly, and just thanks to the o-line for giving him time. And then, open field, you’ve just got to do whatever comes to mind. You’re not really thinking too much. I saw my old coach, (Eric) Billeci, down there. It was just heartwarming. And then they congratulated me on the sideline, and I loved it.”
Monte Vista came right back, though, with Judah Sheppard taking his second kickoff return of the day to the house to make it a 28-24 ballgame.
Then, Cal forced another turnover at its own 39-yard line with 2:07 left, with the offense needing to go 61 yards to take the lead.
Which it did.
Jake Hubbard had a few big runs on the possession, capping it off with a 2-yard scamper to put the Grizzlies up 31-28 with 1:26 left.
Again, Monte Vista drove the length of the field, as Devitt continually connected with Matt Nurre, helping set up a Nathan Price 40-yard field field goal with 10 seconds remaining to force overtime.
In overtime, Cal made just enough plays to win the contest. Hubbard capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run on fourth down, giving Cal a 38-31 lead.
Monte Vista would get all the way to the goal line, but an illegal touching call and the Grizzlies’ defense forcing multiple stops ended the wild night in San Ramon.
“The feelings and emotions were crazy throughout the sidelines,” Jake Calcagno said. “I just want to give thanks to all my teammates. They did a great job. They were doing everything, and they were fighting until the end. Crazy outcome. And props to Monte Vista. They played a great game, too.”
Hubbard, behind a stout Cal offensive line, shined throughout the affair, carrying the ball 21 times for 163 yards and three touchdowns, including a 76-yard touchdown on the Grizzlies’ very first possession.
Through three games, Hubbard has 274 rushing yards and three touchdowns, adding 100 receiving yards to his tally.
“My o-linemen, 110%. Can’t do anything without my o-linemen,” Hubbard said. “They open up holes big enough for semi-trucks to drive through. It just makes my job really easier.”
The Booras and Jake Calcagno connection was strong, too.
Jake Calcagno caught 13 of Booras’ 29 completions for 156 yards and one touchdown, which puts him at 315 yards for the year.
Booras was 29-of-48 passing for a season-best 306 yards and two scores, upping his season totals to 727 passing yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.
“They’ve been best friends since they were 6, 7 years old, so they’ve had that bond,” Hubbard said. “That was just things they do every day at practice. It was normal to them.”
Five other Grizzlies caught a pass, featuring Tyler Jarvis’ 52 yards on three catches. Dominick Tuyor had 50 yards on six receptions. Darius Foster finished with 39 yards on five catches. Hunter Holmes also had a 9-yard touchdown grab.
Despite the 31 points on the board for Monte Vista, 14 of those points came on kickoff returns from Sheppard, as Cal’s defense held a prolific offense with countless weapons in check.
Cal, along with the defensive unit allowing 17 points, forced three turnovers.
“I thought they stepped up big,” Danny Calcagno said. “Guys made plays. Obviously we were a little outmatched in size with Nos. 88 (Endries) and 18 (Cole Boscia). Good players. That back was good. They have a nice little scheme, so I was just very proud of the way the kids stuck to the game plan and made plays.”
Gavin Cribb provided another impressive effort on the ground for Monte Vista, registering 127 yards and a score on 30 carries, putting him at 451 yards at the midway point of the schedule.
Devitt completed 20 of 34 passes for 208 yards and one touchdown, marking the second straight game he finished with 208 passing yards.
Endries led the Mustangs with 77 yards and a score on six catches. Nurre had 60 yards on five snags. Cole Boscia needed three catches to reach 46 yards.
The Mustangs will look for their first win at 7 p.m. April 3 versus No. 7 Clayton Valley Charter. Cal hopes to carry the momentum in another challenging matchup at 7 p.m. April 3 at No. 8 San Ramon Valley.
Link to Photo Gallery
Passing: Dyllan Devitt – 20-34, 208 yards, TD.
Rushing: Gavin Cribb – 30 carries, 127 yards, TD. Rocco Schramm – 1 carry, 0 yards. Dyllan Devitt – 2 carries, -5 yards.
Receiving: Jack Endries – 6 catches, 77 yards, TD. Matt Nurre – 5 catches, 60 yards. Cole Boscia – 3 catches, 46 yards. Judah Sheppard – 4 catches, 16 yards. Gavin Cribb – 2 catches, 12 yards.
Passing: Teddy Booras – 29-48, 306 yards, 2 TD. Jake Calcagno – 1-1, 11 yards.
Rushing: Jake Hubbard – 21 carries, 163 yards, 3 TD. Giovanni Phillips – 7 carries, 20 yards. Teddy Booras – 4 carries, 16 yards. Jake Calcagno – 2 carries, 14 yards. Trevor Rund – 5 carries, 12 yards.
Receiving: Jake Calcagno – 13 catches, 156 yards, TD. Tyler Jarvis – 3 catches, 52 yards. Dominick Tuyor – 6 catches, 50 yards. Darius Foster – 5 catches, 39 yards. Hunter Holmes – 2 catches, 19 yards. Jake Hubbard – 1 catch, 6 yards.
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