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De La Salle Spartans v Pittsburg Pirates NCS semifinal rd 3

The NCS semi-final was between De La Salle and Pittsburg, with the Pirates being the last team from Nor Cal to beat the Spartans. However that was two decades ago (in 1991) in a similar NCS playoff game.

There would be no repeat performance by Pitt on this night as the Spartans defense dominated the entire game and the offense, aside from an early interception on a gadget play on its first drive, could not be stopped with three different runners scoring TDs and running up a 48-0 first half score that would remain unchanged as the clock was set for a quick finish in the second half.

The one sided affair lacked drama but showed that the Spartans are all business as they attempt to return to the CIF Open title game for a possible 3 game state streak.

Here are the pics…

Spartan RB Joe Teo (#10), in his last action at Owen Field, takes an early hand-off

A trick play with WR #22 Andrew Buckley for a pass ended badly with a Pirate Interception

But DLS got the ball back after one play (forced fumble) and Bart Houston (#13) drops back.

Pitt got the ball back down then QB Malik got sacked by the Spartan D

Spartan RB Tiupepe Vitale (#20) follows blocks

Pirate QB Malik  Watson finding things crowded as he sets up for a pass.

Spartan’s defensive front led by DE Austin Hooper ( #18)

With an ounce of protection on second down, Malik Watson (#8) winds up

Pitt RB #33 Vupinola

#55 Antonio Huey finds it rough going stopping Spartan ball carriers

Spartan D catches up

Tiupepe Vitale #20 breaks loose in route to his first TD

DLS Luc Hamilton #57 and #50 Chris Olinger pursue QB Malik Watson #8

Joe Teo breaking early across the first line of defense on way to TD

LB Michael Barton (#11), David Moffit (#58) and crew were a menacing presence

QB Bart Houston (#13) ran plenty and played physical with rush 2 TDs and other slashes

RB Joe Teo (#10) at it again

Teo breaks into the second level on his way…


Pittsburg Pirates v. Berkeley Yellow Jackets NCS playoff round 2ey

Ok, I headed out to this game in the wind blown fields of San Pablo Saturday night, at 7pm about 54 degrees, all 4 layers needed considering the winds.

It was a charged atmosphere, both the Pitt Pirates and Berkeley Yellow Jackets were fired up after Berkeley had won in an overtime affair earlier in the regular season.

But this night would be a whole lot different as Pitt led from the start on through to the finish and actually knocked stud RB Rudolpho James out of the game with a concussion in the third quarter. Regretful way to wrap up a hell of a career in Berkeley, I expect him to play at the college level.

Pitt was simply a team on a mission to avenge its loss and continue the momentum it created by beating its rival Antioch twice in consecutive weeks. What characterizes the Pirates is a mostly no nonsense approach to their offense and defense. They do something that is pretty simple: Put their best players on the field and use simple alignments and toss runs or rocket and counters up the middle. When they need to they open it up and throw down the middle of the field though they are much more effective on the ground. They remind me of some of the college teams under Lou Holtz. Play defense, run the ball, don’t make mistakes. That is how their entire night went on Saturday, as I never once thought question their strategy and they fed the ball to their best players using plays that their O-Line can really block. On defense, they were equally up to the task swarming the Berkeley running game and laying some big hits. The squad has 20 players over 200 lbs and that doesnt count their speedsters. They did allow two long passes by Berkeley in the first half that were costly, setting up the Rudolpho TD but that was the only hope they allowed. Had they fixed their coverage they would have played a near perfect game against a very good Yellow Jacket team.

With the win, Pitt gets De La Salle next Friday night and it should be very emotional for Pitt. I went to the last game, in late 2009 in Dublin, the NCS championship and the Pirates could not stop Terron Ward and company all night, and as a sophomore Bart Houston was already looking very good.

In 2011, I know Pitt has a lot better athletes and more cohesiveness –due to improved coaching– and the sophomore kicker I noticed was literally booming kicks (against the wind) to the back of the end zone.

The RB Duo of Mister Marcus Cotton, Vupinola and Lockett (seen below) is fierce and the passing game for the Pirates has improved greatly since September when I saw them have to outrun Monte Vista because they had no passing attack. DLS is a lot to contend with, so I’ll leave it at that.

Above: Pitt QB Malik Watson with hand-off


Pirates gather on sideline early into the game.

Rudolpho James before the half

Yellow Jacket defense swarms in second half but cannot locate FB Crajon Monfee #30.

Pirate RB Mister Cotton heads into an opening. (hard to see #24) could be Lockett

Making life tough on the YEllow Jackets is OL #55 Antonio Huey

Loose ball scramble by Pirate defense.

QB Malik Jackson takes snap in first half.

Big catch for Yellow Jacket WR.

#4 for Berkeley Rudolpho James celebrates a lil bit early – his first TD

DL Antonio Huey makes life hard on Berkeley runner

Before the snap, Sir Devonte-Edwards surveys field

Pitt WR Miles Walker #5 makes a catch, from a distance

Pitt RB #24 Mister Cotton makes presence known around left side.

Pitt sealing it up.

Desperation pass for Berkeley in the fourth quarter, #24 Mister Cotton and #7 Jamon Ward close in

Pitt DB Miles Walker wrapping up

#25 Jamal Lockett closing things out with a hard earned yard

EBAL Football Captured in Photos

 De La Salle Spartans v. Cal High Grizzlies; Nov. 11 2011

A blog capturing the best of the Tr-Valley’s EBAL HS Football League in color photos.  Wanted to do this for a while, so here goes…

The first game I was able to cover with the camera is also the last of the 2011 regular season in the EBAL.California High of San Ramon vs. De La Salle Concord, at DLS on a rainy Friday night.

This would be the last home game for a number of DLS seniors and they made it memorable one, winning 24-3 to go undefeated in league play and take the #1 seed in the North Coast Section (NCS), where playoff games begin next week and the Spartans will have a bye.

But this blog isn’t so much about who won or lost, as I really have no favorites, but it is about capturing timeless images of the game. While these are the property of myself (Gregory Cross) and are for purposes of this blog, do view, share and enjoy them * but do not download to use for commercial or promotional purposes.



Sr. RB Joe Te’o with family for last home game, he started tonight at RB for the Spartans

Coin flip, lets get this thing started

RB Joe Te’o (#10) heads left

Where it starts, the Epicenter of the line, Cal Center Brandon Linkhart

The DLS Veer in Action,  1 second after the snap

Grizzly line shoots out

Armani Washington (#3) Cuts through the middle of the Spartans

Cal High QB Farley with a shifty scramble for 15 yds
(in the fray for DLS is  #36 Alex Bucklet and Chris Olinger (#50)

DLS on the nose

Bart Houston (13) takes snap

DLS LBs corps

DLS return team on the move

Cal High QB Farley sets offense. He made great throws all year after replacing graduated QB Drew Riel

Coach Eric Billeci, a former DLS player, Gathers the Grizzly offense during time out

DLS QB Bart Houston (#13) gears up to pass

Coach Ladoceur confers with his brain trust late in the second half.

DLS RB Tiapepe Vitale (#20) makes first steps of 68 yard run left to Cal’s 2 yard line

Cal’s O-Line shows it wont be pushed around, cut block  on Spartan DE Austin Hooper (#18)

Cal’s David Pray (#36) and Armani Washington (#3) line up ‘Trips Right’

A Bread & Butter run for the Cal Grizzlies’ “Dunn –Jerrell Dunn” courtesy of OL Brian Watkin (#60)

DLS LB #54 Sumner Houston wraps up a Grizzly RB with Text Book Style

Cals Armani Washington (#3) finding some space – but not much

In second half, the Grizzly D, including LB Brian Krause (#27), Anthony Galasso #27,
and CB Grant Sherrod (#9) stand united in the face of the State’s #1 team

Houston we have a shotgun 5 WR set – So what happened to the Veer?

DLS Anthony Williams (#21) who eluded the camera all night catches a screen

DLS Sideline huddle

QB Bart Houston and OL Chris Olinger (#50) look to sideline for Coach Lad’s guidance
As they close in near North goal line for another touchdown.

Cal’s #4 WR Blake Guardino and fellow Grizzlies huddle up tight early on in the game

Toss sweep play to the left, more staple for the Grizzlies ground and pound style

Grizzly Defenders in action: Izaiah Ortega (#56), Paul McBam #51 and Brian Watkin (#60)
flush Bart Houston out of the pocket

Opposing Forces on 2nd down. Cal C Brandon Linkhart #62 seems to never miss a snap.