Finishing strong: Lancers beat Bellarmine to cap football season

Arona Mata’u
R. Alan Hwang/Special to the Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Arona Mata’u returns an interception for a touchdown in Saturday’s 38-20 win over rival Bellarmine.

Delayed nearly a month for coronavirus-related reasons, Saturday’s showdown between rivals St. Francis High and Bellarmine was the final football game of a shortened season that ended a week earlier for the rest of the Central Coast Section. For St. Francis, it was worth the wait.

Eagles end with a win; Spartans, Lancers fall

Those Friday and Saturday games didn’t work out too well for the Los Altos High football team, but the Eagles finished the season undefeated on Thursdays with last week’s 21-14 win over Fremont.

Los Altos also opened its five-game season on a Thursday night, blanking Monta Vista 33-0 March 18. The Eagles lost their other three Santa Clara Valley Athletic League El Camino Division games by a combined 108-34.

“From now on, we’re going to schedule every game on Thursday,” Eagles coach Dave DeGeronimo said jokingly.

Along with being played on the same day of the week, both wins had something else in common: The Eagles took care of the ball. Against visiting Fremont (1-4), Los Altos wasn’t plagued by turnovers like it had been in recent weeks.

“We did a good job protecting the ball,” DeGeronimo said. “We executed and cut down on penalties and turnovers.”

Mingaang Park, getting his first start of the season at quarterback, ran for a 5-yard touchdown on the Eagles’ initial drive of the game.

Fremont answered with a touchdown of its own later in the quarter, but neither team scored the rest of the half.

The Firebirds began the third quarter with an onside kick, recovering the ball at the Los Altos 45. Fremont wasn’t able to pick up a first down, however, with Eagles safety Cole Rafferty stuffing halfback Lenny Sinapati for a 3-yard loss on fourth and 2.

“That was a big stop,” DeGeronimo said. “It was a big momentum shift.”

Two plays later, Rafferty stung the Firebirds again – this time at receiver. Catching a pass from Park in the middle of the field, Rafferty outran the defense for a 65-yard touchdown. Josh de Schutter tacked on the extra point to give Los Altos a 14-7 edge with nine minutes left in the third.

The lead grew to 21-7 by quarter’s end. Capping a 10-play, 61-yard drive, slotback Zach Fagin caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Dre Caputo, who replaced an injured Park three plays prior.

The Firebirds cut their deficit in half midway through the fourth quarter and were in good position to score another touchdown after forcing Los Altos to punt from its end zone with 2:37 left. Taking over at the Eagles’ 29, Fremont gained 7 yards on Sinapati’s first-down run.

Then the Los Altos defense went to work. The Firebirds’ next two run plays went nowhere – with defensive back Greg Schumann disrupting the first attempt in the backfield – and linebacker David Arista wasn’t fooled by their screen pass on fourth down.

“He sniffed out that tunnel screen and blew it up,” DeGeronimo said of a pass that gained just a yard. “What a great play.”

Los Altos took over with 1:28 remaining and ran out the clock.

Spartans drop finale

Mountain View finished 3-2 in the SCVAL De Anza Division with Friday’s 25-7 loss at Wilcox.

The Spartans tied the game in the first quarter on quarterback Trent Steffen’s 45-yard touchdown run, but the Chargers scored a pair of TDs in the second quarter to take control.

Lancers lose in OT

St. Francis struck first in overtime – scoring on Matthew Karic’s 25-yard field goal – but visiting Valley Christian answered with a touchdown to win Friday’s West Catholic Athletic League contest 16-13.

The Lancers (2-2) are slated to host longtime rival Bellarmine (2-2) 6 p.m. Saturday in the season finale for both teams.

Spartans edge Trojans

When Mountain View High celebrated its seniors prior to Saturday night’s home finale, several players mentioned last season’s win over Milpitas – the Spartans’ first over the Trojans in 14 years – as a highlight of their football careers.

Mustangs too much for Eagles

Cole Rafferty
R. Alan Hwang/Special to the Town Crier
Homestead High cornerback Cameron South tackles Los Altos High receiver Cole Rafferty in the fourth quarter of Friday’s game.

Like many football teams, Los Altos High has seen its roster shrink dramatically over the pandemic – from approximately 42 to 22 players since summer conditioning, according to coach Dave DeGeronimo – and the Eagles’ lack of depth and experience were evident in Friday’s 41-0 loss to Homestead.


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