While the St. Francis High football team’s offense made the highlight-reel plays Friday night, the defense quietly did what it’s done throughout league – dominate.
The host Lancers mauled Mitty 28-7, and that’s the most points they’ve allowed in a West Catholic Athletic League game this year.
“We’re pretty tough to score on,” said St. Francis head coach Greg Calcagno, whose team has surrendered only 16 points over six league contests. “We’re known for our defense, and this is one of the best we’ve had – at least so far. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
Linebacker Opeti Fangupo cited the Lancers’ lone loss of the season – 33-15 to nationally ranked De La Salle last month in their final game before league – as the turning point for the defense.
“Ever since that De La Salle loss, we just locked in,” the senior said. “We knew what we had to do, and we’ve just been rolling with the momentum.”
Mitty’s touchdown early in the second quarter marked the first points scored against St. Francis (6-0 WCAL, 8-1 overall) in three games. The Lancers still held the lead – 14-7 after the extra point – thanks to a pair of first-quarter TDs.
On just the third play from scrimmage, quarterback Ryan Daly connected with receiver Evan Williams for a 51-yard touchdown. Running down the middle of the field, Williams got past Mitty’s Zach Ng-Posey to snare the ball just inside the 20-yard line and dragged the defensive back into the end zone.
St. Francis struck again late in the first quarter when fullback Nick Robinson followed a 25-yard run with a 3-yard scamper across the goal line. Michael Leahy’s extra point made it 14-0 with 1:44 left in the quarter.
The Monarchs (2-4, 4-5) put together two long drives before halftime but only capitalized on quarterback Reymello Murphy’s 15-yard dash into the end zone. Jake Barbeau’s 36-yard field goal attempt with a second remaining missed wide left.
The Lancers, who turned the ball over on downs on their lone drive of the second quarter, regained control of the game in the third by scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions.
After holding Mitty to a three-and-out series to begin the quarter, St. Francis marched 61 yards in five plays to score on Fangupo’s 1-yard run. Daly’s 57-yard pass to Williams – coming on the same play as the first-half TD – set up the score. Beating double coverage to haul in the catch, the senior receiver was tackled 6 yards shy of the goal line.
“We needed it again and we got it again from him,” Calcagno said of Williams. “Ryan did a good job hanging in there and throwing it to him where only he could get it, and he made a nice play.”
Fangupo capped that drive and the next one, racing 27 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown with 17 seconds to play in the third.
“The hole was there – it was nice and wide,” the running back said. “Nick Robinson blocked the linebacker and then it was just me one-on-one with the corner. And then my linemen running down the field with me – that’s what really got me in there.”
Mitty didn’t come close to breaching the end zone the rest of the way. The Monarchs’ initial drive of the fourth quarter ended on a failed fake punt, as St. Francis’ Tyler McCabe brought down Derrick Chou before he could find a receiver.
Mitty opted not to punt on its next drive as well; Murphy’s pass on fourth and 2 fell incomplete.
St. Francis took over at Mitty’s 43 and ran the ball six straight times to drain the clock. By the time Mitty got the ball back, only 62 seconds remained.
With homecoming and senior night now behind them, the Lancers have turned their focus to Saturday’s 2 p.m. league finale at Serra. The Padres (5-1, 6-3) are the only team standing between St. Francis and the outright league title.
“That game has been marked on our calendars since the summer,” said Fangupo, whose 47 yards rushing led the Lancers Friday. “They’ve got us the past four times now. That’s who we’re really trying to get – we’re not even thinking about the playoffs right now.”
Calcagno expects the game to have a playoff-type atmosphere.
“We’ve put ourselves in position to win the title outright, and that’s what we’re going to try to do,” he said. “Those guys have had our number a little bit, but we’re excited to play them. They’re pretty darn good.”
Eagles’ loss hurts Spartans
Los Altos capped its season with a 54-27 loss at Saratoga Friday that also hurt rival Mountain View.
The Spartans (4-1, 5-4) needed the Eagles (2-4, 4-6) to upset the Falcons (4-1, 5-4) to improve their chances of claiming the division title outright. Saratoga beat Mountain View earlier this year.
The Spartans are slated to host Monta Vista (2-3, 5-4) 7 p.m. Friday under temporary lights, while Saratoga visits winless Lynbrook.