Park scores

Los Altos High halfback Mingaang Park lands in the end zone after a 23-yard run Friday.

While desperately needed amid the drought, the rain that fell Friday night didn’t do the Los Altos High football team any favors as it hosted St. Francis of Watsonville in the Central Coast Section Division V semifinals.

The sixth-seeded Eagles ended the dry first half with a 28-21 lead, pulling ahead on Jimmy Flynn’s 16-yard pass to Zach Fagin with 16 seconds left. The steady drizzle in the second half seemed to slow down Los Altos’ passing game, but it didn’t bother the seventh-seeded Sharks and their run-oriented offense. Behind its potent ground game, St. Francis scored four touchdowns in the third quarter en route to a 56-35 win.

“It certainly didn’t help us that it was raining,” Eagles coach Dave DeGeromino said. “I don’t know if Jimmy’s ever thrown a wet ball.”

Flynn, 11-of-15 passing for 200 yards in the first half, was 3-of-12 for 52 yards in the second half and threw two interceptions.

“This towel only does so much,” said the sophomore, grabbing the small towel tucked into his pants. “Eventually the ball gets wet and that’s most definitely a significant factor (when passing), but that’s just an excuse at the end of the day.”

Flynn and his receivers had to contend with a slippery ball, and the Los Altos defense had to deal with slippery Sharks. The Eagles (8-4) struggled to contain St. Francis’ three-back attack after the first quarter, at the end of which Los Altos led 7-0 on a broken-play touchdown by Mingaang Park, who picked up a fumble in the backfield and raced 23 yards to paydirt.

St. Francis (9-3) answered less than a minute into the second quarter on Johrdan Garibay’s 1-yard run, but a bad snap on the PAT enabled the Eagles to stay ahead. Los Altos extended the lead to 14-6 on its next drive, capped by Greg Schumann’s 5-yard run. Flynn’s 33-yard pass play to Fagin, who weaved through three defenders, set up the score.

The Sharks responded again, as Nethaniel Madrigal-Hernandez scored a TD on a 1-yard run and then caught a pass for the two-point conversion to knot the game at 14.

It wasn’t tied for long; Fagin, using his track speed, returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a score. Another answer by St. Francis – a 12-yard run by Garibay, who spun his way into the end zone – left the Los Altos offense with only 1:21 to work with before halftime. That proved more than enough time to retake the lead; Flynn completed a 17-yard pass to Cole Rafferty and a 32-yarder to Thomas Schumann before Fagin scored.

“We came out and moved the ball well, and it seemed like we could do whatever we wanted on offense in the first half,” DeGeronimo said, “but it got away from us a little bit in the second half. We couldn’t stop that run game.”

The Sharks opened the second half with another run-heavy drive (they threw only four passes and rushed for 505 yards Friday), scoring to tie the game at 28. After a three-and-out series by the Eagles, St. Francis went ahead on Madrigal-Hernandez’s 5-yard run.

Capitalizing on a Flynn interception, the Sharks added to their lead about a minute later when Diego Wolfe ran for a 27-yard TD. All of a sudden, Los Altos found itself down 42-28 with 4:17 remaining in the third.

The Eagles cut the deficit in half on their next drive, as Rafferty caught a 29-yard pass between two defenders in the left side of the end zone. The senior totaled six catches for 108 yards.

Three plays later, Madrigal-Hernandez broke several tackles, and perhaps the Eagles’ spirit, on a 39-yard scoring scamper.

Now trailing by two touchdowns with a quarter to go, Los Altos went to the air but couldn’t get its passing attack on track. Flynn threw an interception, and the Eagles failed to complete a pass in the fourth.

“We will all remember this,” Flynn said of the loss. “We will most definitely come back next year with this picture in our minds and will come out hungry.”

Los Altos, in the playoffs for the first time in five years, last made the semifinals in 2006.

Spartans stymied in semis

Mountain View scored the first and last touchdown in Saturday’s CCS Division III semifinal, but host Sacred Heart Cathedral produced six TDs in between to rout the Spartans 42-14 Saturday.

The seventh-seeded Spartans (6-6) scored on the game’s opening drive, only to see the No. 3 Fighting Irish (5-7) put up four unanswered TDs by halftime. By the end of the third quarter, Mountain View trailed 42-7.

This marked the Spartans’ first semifinal appearance since 2002.