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In a crazy, whirlwind COVID-19 year, the St. Francis Lancers were focused on trying to make a season happen, particularly for this senior class.
There was a lot of promise for this group after appearing in the Central Coast Section playoffs in 2019. Much talent returned across the board, and they knew special things were in store.
Although things were much different without a postseason and just five games, they were grateful to get this season in. And they are especially grateful for how it ended.
St. Francis (3-2), ranked No. 16 in the Bay Area, forced three turnovers and won the field position battle all evening long en route to a 38-20 victory over Bellarmine (2-3) in the season finale Saturday, marking the fifth straight Holy War victory for the Lancers.
“Very special,” St. Francis junior defensive end and outside linebacker Clayton Lynam. “I want to do it for my seniors, and everyone wanted to do it for our seniors so they could go out on a good note at our home field. It just feels great.”
Despite being outgained 231-226, the St. Francis defense created three turnovers – all of which led to scores and a total of 21 points – while holding Bellarmine to 19 rushing yards and providing the offense with excellent position to take a commanding lead early.
Senior Logan Espiritu started the festivities with an interception for St. Francis on its opening drive defensively, setting up junior Camilo Arquette’s 16-yard touchdown run a few plays later to put them ahead 7-0 with 5:51 left in the first quarter.
Arquette also scored again on an 11-yard run, then intercepted a pass to set up junior quarterback Josh Perry’s 13-yard touchdown pass to senior Johnny Tarantino, extending the advantage to 21-0, with 14 of those points coming off turnovers.
St. Francis senior Arona Mata’u had the last turnover on a pick six to make the score 38-13 with 4:21 remaining in the contest.
Those turnovers and winning the field position battle proved to be the difference.
“Starting drives on the 40, on the 30, definitely all the props go to them,” Perry said. “The big men up front definitely started it by creating pressure, and our DB’s definitely had a great game. It was cool talking to them on the sidelines and everyone getting hyped together.”
Bellarmine would make it a game for a while, though, as it recovered from the early three-score hole it was in.
Bells senior quarterback Thomas Anderson scored on a two-yard quarterback sneak just moments after some critical conversions to cut the deficit to 21-7 with 7:10 left in the second quarter. Senior Jaxon Sawyer later scored on a 15-yard run in the third quarter, trimming the Lancers’ lead to 21-13.
However, St. Francis would outscore Bellarmine 17-7 the rest of the way, beginning with Arquette’s long kickoff return setting up Adonis Hernandez with a touchdown run to put the Lancers up 28-13 and up multiple scores for good.
“We worked hard,” Lynam said. “We had a really good week of practice, and that;s all you could ask for. We worked our butts off to this point.”
A deep Lancers backfield provided consistent success, much like it did all season.
Junior Villami Teu led the way with 60 yard on 14 carries, followed by Arquette’s – with a San Jose State offer in hand – 40 yards and two touchdowns and Hernandez’s 39 yards and a touchdown.
“You see it on the third and even five will run it because we have so much faith in those guys,” Perry said. “Power backs, speed backs – we’ve got everything you want here. Opens up our pass game a ton. They have to keep loading guys in the box. Makes it a lot easier for the quarterbacks and the receivers, too.”
Perry threw for 52 yards on a perfect 6-for-6 passing, while senior Keller Gammons tossed 31 passing yards.
Perry gave much credit to the offensive line for giving him plenty of time in the pocket.
“It felt amazing being able to look back and seeing them blocking for me, even down the field when I was trying to escape,” Perry said. “Even getting the ball, fake handoff or any stuff like that, how much of the pocket they were able to create – they’re definitely a special group of guys, a lot of them being juniors, too, so next year will definitely be a lot more special.”
Anderson – who has a Puget Sound offer – led Bellarmine with 137 passing yards in his final high school game. Fellow senior John Agarpao played one drive in the fourth quarter, where he completed 4 of 7 passes for 75 yards and had a touchdown pass to senior Nicho DOmine for the spring’s final score.
Domine, who also had multiple long punts, finished with 79 receiving yards on nine catches. Senior tight end Griffin Waiss – a University of Washington signee – tallied 62 yards on two receptions.
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Passing: Thomas Anderson: 13-26, 137 yards. John Agarpao: 4-7, 75 yards, TD.
Rushing: Jaxon Sawyer: 10 carries, 19 yards, TD. John Agarpao: 2 carries, 4 yards. Thomas Anderson: 3 carries, -4 yards, TD.
Receiving: Nicho Domine: 9 catches, 79 yards, TD. Griffin Waiss: 2 catches, 62 yards. Diego Rocha: 4 catches, 35 yards. Jacob Roseberry: 2 catches, 19 yards. Jaxon Sawyer: 1 catch, 17 yards.
Passing: Josh Perry: 6-6, 52 yards, TD. Keller Gammons: 4-6, 31 yards.
Rushing: Villami Teu: 14 carries, 60 yards. Camilo Arquette: 8 carries, 40 yards, 2 TD. Adonis Hernandez: 9 carries, 38 yards, TD.
Receiving: Johnny Tarantino: 2 catches, 20 yards, TD. Dillon Golden: 2 catches, 19 yards. Philip Culbertson: 1 catch, 13 yards. Grant Horn: 1 catch, 10 yards. M.J. Artmore: 1 catch, 9 yards. Camilo Arquette: 1 catch, 3 yards.
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