The hottest high school football team going?
It’s not a Bay Area powerhouse or a Southern California large-school program with a national reputation. It’s Central Catholic of Modesto, home of the Raiders, and a place where the trophy case is full.
Central Catholic is the three-time defending CIF State Division IV champion. With the playoff expansion and some Bowl tweaking, the Raiders (15-0) shoot for a four-peat as they play San Marino (15-0) in Saturday’s newly created CIF Open Small-School Championship at Sacramento State.
How good have coach Roger Canepa’s teams been? Since 2012, Central Catholic has played more games (63) than any other team in the state. The Raiders have won 22 consecutive playoff games. Central Catholic, with an enrollment of 369, faces a San Marino program from a school of 1,200, an example of just how different enrollments are in this state.
“We’ve played a lot of games, won a lot of games,” Canepa said. “We’re tired, but it’s a good tired.”
Heavies collide – De La Salle of Concord was ranked the national preseason No. 1 team by MaxPreps, lost its opener late to Trinity in Texas, and is now sixth. The Spartans (12-1) play current national No. 1 Centennial of Corona (15-0) in the CIF State Open game at Sac State in the weekend’s showcase event.
De La Salle beat Centennial 63-42 in the Open finals last season in Carson in a game that had fans buzzing and defensive coordinators groaning. The 42 points were the most De La Salle has allowed in a game since Bob Ladouceur took over in 1979 (he’s now an assistant coach). Third-year Spartans coach Justin Alumbaugh said Saturday is “a redemption game for our defense.”
Generation gap – There will be a very proud pop perched in the Sac State seats Friday night when Bellarmine of San Jose (13-1) plays Mission Viejo (15-0) for the Division I-AA championship.
It’ll be Rich Martig, whose son, Troy, is the starting quarterback for the Bells. Rich Martig quarterbacked Bellarmine to a league championship in 1979 and went on to earn All-American honors on defense at Santa Clara. Troy Martig will compete in track in the Ivy League at Columbia, where he’ll study economics.
“I know my dad’s proud, and it’s been so much fun sharing this with him,” Troy Martig said.
Bellarmine snapped Folsom’s state-leading 30-game winning streak last week and faces another team on a roll. Mission Viejo now has the state’s longest winning streak, at 27.
Folsom vibe – Folsom handed Clayton Valley Charter of Concord its lone loss, 29-28, in a season opener. Now CVC is playing Narbonne on Saturday at Sac State for the Division I-A title. Folsom also beat Del Oro in Sierra Foothill League play, and the Golden Eagles recovered nicely to reach their third CIF Bowl since 2011.
Bellarmine’s 42-35 triumph over Folsom gave coach Mike Janda his 270th career victory with the Bells, making him the winningest coach in Central Coast Section history.
“All that was good,” Janda said of the milestone. “But what I’ll remember most is just the classy, first-rate opponent we played. The coaches, the players, the facility, everyone and everything was just first rate. It was all just very impressive. And I would have said the exact same thing had we lost.”
Passing fancy – Camarillo (15-0) faces Del Oro (9-6) in Friday’s 4 p.m. bowl opener at Sac State and will go to the air with quarterback Jake Constantine. The senior is coming off a 327-yard, seven-touchdown effort to beat La Habra 63-49 in the Southern California Division II-AA Regional title game.
Constantine has passed for 3,652 yards and 49 touchdowns, but the Scorpions also can run with Isaiah Otis (1,560 yards, 25 touchdowns).
Food patrol – Del Oro’s offensive line has emerged with Chris Lamantia, Roddy Hamilton, Dalton Heryford, Pablo Miller, Hunter Halverson and Jack Beaman doing their part to power the Golden Eagles to a seven-game winning streak. Miller and Halverson are standout wrestlers, and all are standout eaters, position coach Dan Gazzaniga said.
“They refer to themselves as ‘The Hogs’ after the Washington Redskins from the 1980s,” Gazzaniga said. “But I think it’s primarily due to the amount of food they put away at the weekly linemen dinners.”