Only Darrell Page’s name will appear in the St. Francis High football record book for rushing for five touchdowns Friday in the Lancers’ 51-27 playoff rout of Wilcox, but it really was a team effort.
St. Francis’ offensive line, tight ends and fullbacks cleared the way for Page – often opening humongous holes for him to run through – while receivers held their blocks downfield to help the speedy junior get past the last line of defense.
“My boys – like Junior Fehoko, Josh Pakola, Evan Williams, my whole O-line – they did the job for me,” said Page, who tied the school record for rushing touchdowns in a playoff game. “They got the job done for me (in order) for me to get into the end zone.”
Page reached the end zone on his first carry of the Central Coast Section Open Division II quarterfinal, setting the tone for the third-seeded Lancers (8-3) against the No. 6 Chargers (7-4). Following his blockers, he cut left and dashed 45 yards for the touchdown. Coupled with Alessandro Maiuolo’s extra point, the one-play drive put St. Francis up 7-0 with 9:27 left in the first quarter.
“On that run, I was thinking, like Coach said, ‘You’ve got to get (Wilcox) out of the game quick,’” said Page, who rushed for 199 yards on 18 carries. “My mentality was just run – have good vision, play smart and have patience. That’s my game.”
Maiuolo booted a 33-yard field goal to cap the Lancers’ next possession, extending the lead to 10-0. The score remained that way until the second quarter, when Page produced three touchdowns to turn the game into a blowout.
St. Francis’ passing game set up the first two scores. Quarterback Reed Vettel connected with receiver Williams on a 38-yard strike down the middle (Page later scored from 5 yards out), then again on a similar play good for 48 yards on the next drive (resulting in Page’s 6-yard TD).
“Reed threw well,” St. Francis coach Greg Calcagno said of his senior, who was 11-of-14 passing for 188 yards. “And when we can do both, run and pass, that’s good for us. (The opposing defense) can’t load the box quite as much as they could in past years.”
Vettel completed four straight passes on the Lancers’ last drive of the half – the final one to receiver Maurice Wilmer, who stiff-armed a defensive back on his way to a 19-yard gain. Three plays later, Page was back in the end zone, taking an inside handoff from Vettel and darting left for a 9-yard score with 56 seconds left in the half.
The play negated Wilcox’s first touchdown of the night midway through the quarter, and host St. Francis went into the locker room with a 31-7 lead.
The Lancers lost a fumble on their first drive of the second half, and the Chargers scored a touchdown three plays later.
St. Francis responded a minute later when Page scored on a 60-yard burst, sprung by his all-league lineman.
“Tyler Manoa was blocking and hit No. 5 (Wilcox’s Ryan Cooper), and I was running right behind him, hand on his back,” Page said. “I think that was the best one out of all of them.”
It proved to be Page’s last carry, as he joined Vettel and several other starters on the bench for the rest of the game. That gave Thomas Whitenight a chance to carry the ball, and the junior scored on an 80-yard run to start the fourth quarter, pushing the lead to 51-20.
The Lancers now head to the CCS semifinals, scheduled to visit No. 2 Aragon (10-1) 7 p.m. Friday in San Mateo.
“We’re just happy we’re playing right now,” Calcagno said. “There aren’t that many teams left.”