Saint Francis shuts out Los Gatos for CCS Division II title

By: Darren Sabedra San Jose Mercury News

Posted December 3

In a matchup between the Central Coast Section's two most storied programs Saturday night, Saint Francis did what it does best.

Behind another dominant defensive performance, the Lancers defeated Los Gatos 17-0 in the CCS Division II championship game for their 15th section title.

Mike Lauck's 10-yard pass to Charlie Clarke with 4:06 left in the third quarter broke a scoreless tie, and that was all the Lancers would need to prevent Los Gatos from claiming its 14th section title on a rainy night at Westmont High.

"It's kind of surreal," Saint Francis coach Nick Navarro said. "It's awesome for our school. It's awesome for our kids."

Saint Francis shut out three of its past four opponents and five overall this season. The defense bent a little as Los Gatos had two drives inside the Lancers' 10-yard line, but Saint Francis held both times.

"They've been the staple for us in a lot of games," Navarro said, crediting his defensive coaches for "getting our kids schooled up on how to play defense physically tough, and they've just done a great job all year."

But Saint Francis needed more than defense to add to its well-stocked trophy case. The Lancers got their chance when a short punt gave them the ball at the Los Gatos 23. On first down from the 10, Lauck found Clarke in the corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead. The touchdown pass was Lauck's school-record 26th this season.

"I told Charlie before the play that if I call that play, we were going to run that," said Lauck, who rushed for 88 yards and threw for 112 on Saturday. "I've thrown that play all year, and he told me he was going to get open. So I looked for him, and he got it. The momentum was ours after that."

Said Clarke, "I couldn't feel any better right now. It's unbelievable. I'm speechless."

The Lancers extended their lead later in the third quarter on a 10-yard run by Alex Andrighetto, who rushed for 93 yards in 10 carries.

Los Gatos gave itself two opportunities to score before halftime but came away empty both times. The Wildcats drove from their 35 to inside the Saint Francis 10 late in the first quarter, relying heavily on running back Joey Wood.

But on third and goal from the 6, Wood fumbled as he ran inside the 5, and Saint Francis recovered.

On its next series, Los Gatos again put together an effective series against a defense that allowed only seven points in its three playoff wins and ended the regular season with a shutout against Open Division semifinalist Serra.

The Wildcats got to the Saint Francis 23 before the drive stalled, and Logan Chapman's 40-yard field-goal attempt missed, keeping the score 0-0.

Wood had 17 carries before Los Gatos handed the ball to another running back. The sophomore finished the first half with 85 yards in 19 attempts. He finished with 108 yards in 26 carries.

Los Gatos drove to the Saint Francis 5 in the fourth quarter but the Lancers held again.

"We've got to give it all up to the D," Clarke said. "That's the best defense in the WCAL and obviously the CCS. All props to them. Our offense did the work when we had to, but the heart of this team was the defense."

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