Monday, October 15, 2007

Double-Threat QB leads the way into the Bay Area Top 10

Bay Area Top 20

Harold Abend
Special to CalHiSports

Double-Threat QB leads the way into the Bay Area Top 10

The Bells aren't only ringing down in San Jose. There's a loud one ringing up in San Francisco and his name is Darius Bell of Riordan. The 6-1, 220-pound rock solid single-wing quarterback, is arguably the top double threat in the Bay Area.

Not only can he throw the ball a long way downfield to wide receivers like Daniel Cannon, who caught a 32-yard strike to set up a his own 1-yard plunge in the Crusaders' 20-3 convincing win over Serra of San Mateo, but Bell is extremely hard to bring down. Seeing the holes from the single-wing, Bell has good acceleration, especially when big 6-2, 325-pound Errol Tu'ufuli opens a lane.

Last Saturday, Bell and Cannon both validated why each is being hotly recruited as they came through with the big plays to give Riordan its second win in a row over Serra in the John Baxter Game, named after a San Francisco firefighter who died last year, and was a longtime football coach at both schools.

Bell, who is getting major looks from Oregon, Cal, UCLA, Fresno St., Colorado and Nebraska as mostly a safety, didn't have anywhere near the big numbers (335 yards passing, four TDs) he did in the win over St. Ignatius but he made plays on both sides of the line of scrimmage including eight tackles and a pass knockdown at safety.

The 6-0, 185-pound Cannon, who already has offers from Arizona and San Jose State, with Fresno State and Cal still looking, can go up and get the ball and has excellent speed and strength to go with his jumping abilities.

With only one loss to Washington small school power Archbishop Murphy (currently 7-0), look for Bells to continue ringing in the Bay Area's two largest cities. There may be some Cannon fire too when Bellarmine and Riordan meet in two weeks in San Francisco.

(after games of Oct. 13 with previous ranking in parenthesis)

Harold Abend

Cardinal Newman's Max Pond is the early frontrunner to be the player of the year for the North Bay this season.
1) De La Salle (Concord) 5-0 (1)
After returning from the Southland with a win over Mission Viejo that cemented their spot in the catbird's seat in the CIF Div I Bowl north berth race, the Spartans went out and played a ho-hum game in a 56-14 win against Heritage of Brentwood. Tito Pica rushed for 210 yards, including a 78-yard run and three touchdowns, scoring on runs of 5, 6 and 25 yards. Next up is Liberty on the road again in Brentwood.

2) Bellarmine (San Jose) 7-0 (2)
Usua Amanam continued to frustrate WCAL opponents and the Bells remain unbeaten as Amanam scored from 7-yards out with 36-seconds left to lift Bellarmine over Valley Christian of San Jose, 20-14. For the game, the speedy back, who carried 13 times in the fourth quarter alone, finished with 188 yards on 27 carries and the one score. The Bells now have a bye before meeting streaking Riordan in two weeks in the City.

3) Los Gatos 5-0-1 (3)
Nick Kalpin went over the 200-yard mark for the third time this season (according to the SF Chronicle and SJ Mercury News). At least everyone agreed this week as the 6-0, 200-pound bruiser went for 213 yards and five touchdowns in a 56-21 win over Los Altos. The rest of the De Anza League schedule doesn't look that tough with Santa Clara at home next on the slate.

4) Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 4-1-1 (4)
As expected, the Cardinals had a tough fight on their hands against arch-rival Montgomery of Santa Rosa in a 35-27 win on the road across town. Trailing 17-14 to begin the third quarter, Jeff Badger scored on a 40-yard run in the first series of the second half to put Newman ahead for good. Coach Paul Cronin's alma mater Piner (Santa Rosa) visits Newman this Saturday.

5) James Logan (Union City) 6-0 (5)
How does 65-0 over Mission San Jose (Fremont) sound? Ouch! Rashad Evans rushed for 197 yards and scored four times. Next up is Washington (Fremont) in what could be the Colts only test in MVAL play.

6) St. Francis (Mountain View) 3-2-1 (6)
The Lancers had a bye week to lick their wounds after the Bellarmine loss. Now comes a reeling Valley Christian on the road.

7) San Ramon Valley (Danville) 5-0-1 (11)
It was almost right out of the movie script of North Dallas Forty for those old enough to remember. When what appeared to be an extra point by California that would have tied the game with 15 seconds to play sailed wide right, the Wolverines were winners, and in sole possession of first place in the East Bay League. This week it was the defense that came up big, forcing four first half turnovers including linebacker Kai Cummings fumble recovery in the end zone that gave SRV a 10-0 lead.

8) Archbishop Riordan (San Francisco) 5-1 (12)
With big brother and UCLA running back Kahlil Bell cheering him on from the stands, Darius Bell showed everyone why he and wide receiver teammate Daniel Cannon are the two hottest prospects in the WCAL. Quite frankly, Serra had no answer for the pair in a 20-3 Crusader victory. Next up is a Mitty (San Jose) team that looks to be back in stride.

9) Novato 6-0 (9)
For the second time in three weeks, the Hornets came back from a halftime deficit to win the game. This past week they trailed Justin-Siena (Napa) 16-6 at the end of three quarters before scoring twice in the final quarter to pull it out, 18-16, on the road. Jake Davis was the offensive star with seven catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Drake (San Anselmo) comes to town this Saturday.

10) Oak Grove (San Jose) 5-1 (10)
Workhorse running back Nevin Gardiner upped his season total to 842 yards with a 26 carry, 195-yard, and three touchdown effort in a 42-6 home victory over Lincoln of San Jose. Next up is Leigh of San Jose at home.

11) California (San Ramon) 5-1 (8)
There is no overtime in the EBAL so according to the San Francisco Chronicle the Grizzlies decided to go for a tie based on drawing the higher card before the season that decides league tiebreakers. The result of missing the extra point and losing 10-9 to San Ramon Valley in a game in which California had most of the offense does not drop them very far in these rankings. Next up is Livermore on the road this Friday

Monte Vista head coach Craig Bergman's team could complicate the East Bay Athletic League title chase with a win in Week 10 over crosstown rival San Ramon Valley.
12) Serra (San Mateo) 4-3 (7)
It's real sketchy as to how far to drop the Padres after the 20-3 loss to Riordan. Serra controlled the clock and the ball, but the Padres didn't really dominate the line of scrimmage against the big defensive front of the Crusaders. It seemed like every time they got into the red zone something would go wrong, and that was mostly fumbles and sacks. After an interception to thwart a Crusader drive, they even fumbled on their own five-yard line to give Riordan its final score. Serra comes to the City for the second week in a row to play St. Ignatius.

13) Palma (Salinas) 5-1 (13)
Quarterback Davis Fales, in his second start since replacing injured starter Connor Farotte, had a sparkling outing, completing 7 of 8 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-7 rout of cross-town Alisal.

14) Monte Vista (Danville) 4-2 (14)
The Mustangs blanked Livermore 27-0 at home. Next up is a non-league home contest against Terra Linda of San Rafael.

15) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 5-1 (15)
The Monarchs were outgained by St. Ignatius 162 yards to 58 in the first half but only trailed 7-0. A beautiful punt by Monarch punter Blake Zamudio in the third quarter that dropped dead at the 2-yard line led to an SI fumble on the rain soaked field at Foothill College. Shortly thereafter Kenny Jackson scored on a 1-yard plunge to tie the game at 7-7 and the momentum swung to Mitty in a 21-10 victory. The Monarchs next host Riordan.

16) Pinole Valley (Pinole) 4-0-1 (18)
The Spartans jump up a couple of spots after a 55-7 trouncing of Richmond. Next up is a home game against an El Cerrito squad coming off a loss to Encinal of Alameda.

17) Las Lomas (Walnut Creek) 6-0 (nr)
The Knights have been knocking on the door to get into the bright lights and last week they did it in style, blasting a Northgate team that only had one loss in a 58-0 whitewashing. Running back Danny Ward had 179 yards rushing and three touchdowns before being pulled early in the third quarter. Las Lomas racked up 493 yards of offense while allowing just two Northgate first downs on defense.

18) Valley Christian (San Jose) 3-2-1 (16)
They may have given up the go ahead score to No. 2 Bellarmine with 36 seconds remaining, but the Warriors didn't give up and drove all the way to the Bells 20-yard line before time expired in their 20-14 loss. For that, they only drop a bit but remain in the rankings.

19) Gilroy 4-2 (nr)
Another newcomer to the Top 20 by virtue of a big 32-19 win over Pacific Grove is also the No. 2 team behind Palma from the Monterey Bay area. It was the third straight win for the Mustangs, whose losses are to higher-ranked Oak Grove and Serra. We also like em since they did better against Oak Grove (27-21 loss) than Palo Alto did. Gilroy also features one of the top junior QBs in Northern California in 6-3, 200-pound Jamie Jensen.

20) Newark Memorial (Newark) 6-0 (20)
It wouldn't be fair to drop the Cougars out of the Top 20 after a win, but the 29-21 home victory over American of Fremont just isn't that impressive enough to move them up.

Teams On the Bubble
Alameda 5-1, Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 5-1, Casa Grande (Petaluma) 4-1-1. College Park (Pleasant Hill ) 5-1, Encinal (Alameda) 5-1, Foothill (Pleasanton) 4-2, Healdsburg 6-0, Heritage (Brentwood) 4-2, Menlo-Atherton (Atherton) 5-1, North Salinas (Salinas) 6-1, Palo Alto 4-2, Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 4-2, St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 4-2, San Leandro 4-2, Salesian (Richmond) 5-1, Santa Rosa 5-1, Sonoma Valley 4-1-1, St. Patrick-St. Vincent (Vallejo) 6-0, Washington (Fremont) 4-1-1, Ygnacio Valley (Concord) 6-0.

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