by Josh Morgan
Another regular season has concluded for the Las Lomas football team, but luckily another successful year means that the fun is far from over. The team did not back down from a promotion to a tougher league; although they were unable to duplicate the undefeated record from last season, they went 9-1 overall and 3-1 in league play. The improved competition will surely be an advantage as far as preparation for the playoffs goes.The team started off with a blowout 54-0 win over Kennedy, and then followed that up with an impressive 27-14 win in the home opener against a Bishop O’Dowd team that won NCS Division 2 last year and, after a demotion to Division 3 following the season, was expected to compete with Las Lomas for the top seed in NCS Division 3 this year. The team then took care of business with a 35-7 win against Milpitas and a 56-0 win over Tennyson.
The second real test for the team came against a Vanden team that came out of nowhere to give Las Lomas one of their toughest games of the season. Vanden took a shocking 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but Las Lomas stormed back to tie it up at halftime. After a scoreless third quarter for both teams, Vanden scored a touchdown but missed the extra point to take a 20-14 lead with very little time left. With 9 seconds remaining, quarterback Everett Johnson launched a Hail Mary pass that was caught by wide receiver Zach Patterson for the game-tying touchdown. The Knights would make the extra point to win the game in dramatic fashion. The win allowed the Knights to take a perfect 5-0 record into league play, where they first faced Miramonte. Standout performances from running back, Isaiah Newell, who had 14 carries for 285 yards and 5 touchdowns, and running back Elijah Lash, who had an incredible 6 sacks, led the Knights to an easy 49-7 victory.
Now at 6-0, the Knights went up against a very tough Acalanes team that would only lose two games the entire season. Fortunately, one of those losses came in this very game, as the Knights won a relatively easy game by a score of 42-21. This was another huge game from Newell, who had 22 carries for 211 yards and 4 touchdowns. Linebacker, Dominic Gravino, led the defense with 11 tackles and a sack.
Las Lomas then improved the 8-0 with a 55-6 win over Alhambra. Johnson had one of his best games of the season, completing 77% of his passes for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns while Newell added on with 19 carries for 135 yards and 2 more touchdowns. On defense, Gravino had 8 tackles, and defensive end Zac Transue had an interception returned for a touchdown.
The Knights then faced their stiffest test of the season against Campolindo. The Knights struck first with an Elijah Lash rushing touchdown to take a 7-0 lead, but Campo then scored 17 unanswered points to take a 17-7 lead into halftime. It didn’t get much better for the Knights from there, as Campo scored an additional 14 unanswered points before the Knights added a touchdown at the end to make the final score 31-14. The loss was Las Lomas’ first and only league loss in the past two seasons. Las Lomas was able to bounce back in their next game, as they won 56-10 in a convincing performance in the “Battle of the Creek” against Northgate. The Knights have dominated Northgate in the past two years, outscoring them by a combined 119-10 score. With another great regular season, the Knights have once again qualified for NCS. This year, they have earned the #1 seed in NCS Division 3, improving on last year’s #3 seeding. One change in the bracket this year is that it has slimmed down from 16 teams to just 8, meaning that the Knights are just 3 games away from NCS glory.
In the first round, they will face a 4-5 Santa Rosa team. They started off the season with five consecutive losses, but enter this game on a four-game winning streak that allowed them to barely sneak in as the #8 seed. Santa Rosa runs a very run heavy offense that often features a triple-option. This is something that the Knights haven’t really faced all season, so it will be interesting to see how the defense handles the challenge.
With a win, they would face either Hayward or American Canyon in the semifinals. Hayward has an identical 9-1 record to Las Lomas, and like the Knights, their only loss of the season came to Campolindo. American Canyon, on the other hand, started the season 7-0, before losing two of their last three games to finish at 8-2. Their two losses came against Vintage and Justin-Siena. If the Knights can make it past their first two games, they will likely face either Rancho Cotate or Benicia in the finals. Benicia also finished the season at 9-1, which included a 42-10 victory over Northgate. They lost their only game of the season Sutter. Rancho Cotate finished at 7-3 after playing a pretty tough schedule. Their three losses came against Sacramento, Campolindo, and Cardinal Newman. Their only other common opponent with Las Lomas was Vanden, who they easily beat 48-20.