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Week 5 Takeaways

Clayton Valley won an EBAL title. Gregory Moreland-Tuhn / Staff Photo
Clayton Valley won an EBAL title. Gregory Moreland-Tuhn / Staff Photo

Payne, Foothill are the new top dog

Foothill started the year off with a 14-13 loss to Livermore – which was deemed a non-league contest – but the Falcons bounced back the rest of the way.

And, here they are.

League champions.

Since that one-point season-opening loss, the Falcons rattled off four straight wins – a 38-7 win, a close 36-35 win over Dublin, 35-25 against Granada and the latest being a 27-14 victory at then-No. 14 Livermore, which gave them the revenge they craved and also helped them secure an East Bay Athletic League Valley Division title and a No. 19 spot in the Bay Area Football Rankings. 

It was Foothill’s first league crown since going back-to-back in 2014 and 2015.

“We’ve been grinding for this every day for over a year now I think,” said Foothill senior running back Jayden Payne. “It feels amazing. We lost to these guys already out of league, so to beat them in league means the world to all of us.”

Payne was the star of the show, carrying the ball 34 times for 164 yards and two touchdowns – the fourth time in five games he eclipsed 100 yards. Payne now boasts 562 rushing yards, which is the fourth-most in the North Coast Section according to statistics available on MaxPreps, and six touchdowns.

Payne also caught two passes for 34 yards.

“Jayden has been great,” said Foothill junior quarterback Nick Walsh. “He’s been pounding the ball left and right, running all over teams, jst making it great, setting up the pass, play-action, all that.”

Clayton Valley gets the whole enchilada

In 2019, Clayton Valley Charter came away with North Coast Section, Northern California and state titles.

This year, it wanted to add one more trophy to its legacy. The Ugly Eagles’ senior class craved an East Bay Athletic League title, something that eluded them last year when they went 5-5 overall and were unable to hang a league banner in one of the state’s toughest leagues.

Well, they did just that, as Saturday’s 17-14 victory at San Ramon Valley gave them the last title they needed for the perfecto.

“Especially coming off last year, winning a state championship, having a lot of people doubting us in the EBAL saying that we shouldn’t have been there. It was just an emotional season for us to just come out and prove ourselves,” said Clayton Valley senior linebacker/fullback Dylan Seeley. “We ended at 3-0, so we couldn’t be happier.”

Clayton Valley’s defense held a prolific San Ramon Valley offense that features multiple Division I prospects to 14 points while forcing a fumble.

Omari Taylor ran for 109 yards and also had 31 receiving yards. Seeley totaled 39 rushing yards. Andrew Woolard Jr. finished with 52 total yards and two touchdowns.

Head coach Tim Murphy was ecstatic this incredible group of seniors was able to cap off their high school tenures with a league title.

“This was a really good senior class,” Murphy said. “They’re one of those groups that since they were freshmen they never got in trouble, always worked hard. They were probably more mature than guys that were older than them. Just to see them go out the right way, and it’s a good parent group, too. 

Campolindo’s senior class accomplishes title dreams

Campolindo’s senior class waited for this moment, and for a while it looked like this may have never come.

For months, as the football season got pushed back, it would have been easy for Campolindo’s special senior class to let doubts creep in. Would a season even happen? Would many of them watch their careers end without them even having a choice? Would a league championship never happen?

Yet they never doubted that. They worked hard every day. And look at the results.

Although it has been a different year than anyone ever could have imagined, the Cougars got their abbreviated spring season, and they made the most of it. They are 5-0 and just won a league crown following a 38-28 victory over Las Lomas.

“It was definitely not what we expected to have, but we came to work every day,” said Campolindo senior quarterback Jacob Griessel. “We expected to have a season. We never really came to our minds that we wouldn’t have a season. I think that mindset of it’s for sure going to happen, in some way it’s going to happen was definitely key. We didn’t take it for granted either. We tried to enjoy each game because there were only six of them.” 

This was just what Campolindo longed for. Head coach Kevin Macy went through each senior after the game, highlighting everything they have accomplished and sacrificed to make these dreams happen.

Griessel’s positivity and leadership. Dillan Thoms moved back from Utah and is an absolute workhorse out of the backfield. Maxwell Weaver quit football for a year and returned to the sport, which has since earned him the distinction as a Division I signee to Davidson.

The list goes on and on, and the seniors shined in the victory against Las Lomas.

Weaver recorded 146 receiving yards and a touchdown, adding a 64-yard run in there. Griessel threw for 242 yards and two scores. Thoms ran for 100-plus yards for the fourth time in five games. Max Heffernan had a 56-yard touchdown catch. Joey Schmidt had 34 receiving yards. West Point bound Jelani Matai Bell made multiple stops in the backfield. Jake Leuteneker intercepted a pass. Cole Jeter broke up every pass thrown his way.

Friday was a special night, and what a special season it has been for Campolindo, whose schedule concludes this week against Miramonte.

“It’s indescribable,” Weaver said. “We’ve grinded since the fall. It’s been months. We didn’t know if we were even going to be able to play, and to be able to play in a championship game means the world to me. We came out. We’re a brotherhood. We competed. We got the job done.”

BVAL quarterbacks shine

A quad of Bay Valley Athletic League quarterbacks produced electrifying efforts over the weekend.

Liberty sophomore Nate Bell showed why he is one of the most underrated class of 2023 prospects in the Bay Area during a 21-14 victory over Freedom. Bell was a wildly efficient 29-of-34 for 368 yards and two touchdowns, also running in a score.

Bell’s completion percentage for the year resides at 65.3%, as he is up to 661 passing yards, five touchdowns and one pick. He also has three rushing touchdowns.

With Bell leading the offense, Liberty is 3-1, with its only defeat coming to No. 3 Pittsburg.

Pittsburg’s two Division I quarterbacks – senior Eli Brickhandler and sophomore Jaden Rashada – were unstoppable in a 67-8 trouncing at Deer Valley.

Both threw four touchdown passes, as Brickhandler – Division I offers from Presbyterian and the University of San Diego – was 7-of-11 for 165 yards and four touchdowns. Rashada – a four-star with multiple Power Five offers – bounced back from an interception on his first attempt by going 9-for-13 for 147 yards and the four scores while adding a score on the ground.

Heritage senior Asher Haynes compiled perhaps the best game of his senior year to date in a 34-14 victory against Antioch, completing 16 of 24 attempts for 151 yards and four touchdowns. It was the third time he completed at least 65% of his passes in a game this year. 

El Cerrito, McClymonds and Bishop O’Dowd’s defenses

It’s hard to find two defenses delivering like El Cerrito and McClymonds.

El Cerrito is 4-0 and just joined the Bay Area Football Rankings at No. 25, and it is surely dominating in every facet. It has outscored opponents 162-7, posted 40-plus points twice offensively and also recorded three shutouts.

And its defense, stockpiled with talent like Robert Freeman (Arizona State offer), Kole White, Mark Edwards and company, just gave up its first points of the year in a 48-7 rout of Pinole Valley. Opponents are averaging 1.75 points per game versus the Gauchos.

McClymonds is another premier force, as the No. 13 team has not surrendered a single point this year, rolling through wins over Skyline (60-0), Oakland (60-0) and Castolemont 59-0).

Its total score through three games: 179-0.

Don’t forget about another team out of Oakland, Bishop O’Dowd, who is on a roll under first-year head coach David Perry.

Since a 21-13 loss to No. 11 San Ramon Valley to open the campaign, Perry’s squad is winners of three straight – and its defense is a big reason why. The last three teams the Dragons faced never scored more than seven points, giving up seven to Encinal, six to San Leandro and zero to James Logan.

The 3-1 Dragons have allowed a total of 34 points through four contests and are one of the fastest rising teams in the region at No. 15 in the Bay Area Football Rankings.

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