For quarterback Zach Kline, Saturday’s 37-21 win against rival in the semifinals of the North Coast Section Division I playoffs kept the Wolves on track for their ultimate goal.
“The whole season it hasn’t been about this game or that game, it’s been about winning NCS,” Kline said.
Winning NCS might as well be code for: “Beating De La Salle.” The Spartans are seventh seeded San Ramon’s opponent in Saturday’s championship at the O.co Coliseum in Oakland.
The last time De La Salle lost an NCS game was 1991 — none of the current players were alive. In the teams’ first go-around this year, the Spartans humbled San Ramon with a .
So, will the rematch be any different?
“We’re not approaching it like, ‘Oh, we’re playing De La Salle, we’re going to lose,’” Kline said. “We’re going there to win. Last time we didn’t play the type of football that we could or should have.”
After losing to Monte Vista in the regular-season finale, San Ramon bounced back by cruising past and James Logan in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The rematch with the Mustangs wasn’t much different than its other playoff games.
The Mustangs took a 7-3 second-quarter lead on a beautiful 23-yard touchdown pass from Oregon-bound Jeff Lockie to Marco Zamora, but the Mustangs’ offense went dormant after that.
Kline, who completed 17 of 28 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns, found Jordan Weiss on a screen pass for a 23-yard touchdown to put the Wolves up 10-7 before the half as both teams struggled to find any rhythm.
After the half, it was more the type of style expected in a San Ramon-Monte Vista game.
Weiss got it started with a 63-yard touchdown run and Ryan Dunn caught a 1-yard score from Kline, who this week was named Gatorade California State Player of the Year, as the Wolves started to pull away in the third. Weiss finished with 155 yards on 13 carries.
“The difference was we settled down,” San Ramon coach Mark Kessler said. “I know Zach really wanted this game for his teammates and once he settled down we were fine.”
A 21-yard touchdown strike to Michael Tagliaferri with 10:35 left put the Wolves up 30-7 and essentially stamped San Ramon’s ticket for the finals. Kline added the exclamation point with a 1-yard touchdown run before the Mustangs finally got on track late.
Lockie hit Zack Chang for a 12-yard touchdown and Chang added another rushing score to round out the scoring. It was the final high school game for Lockie, who won East Bay Athletic League MVP — largely in part to his performance against San Ramon in the teams’ .
“What’s not to like about Jeff?” Kessler said. “He’s the type of kid you want playing for you as a coach. He does everything the right way and he’s a flat out great player.”
Lockie finished 20 of 43 for 203 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
While San Ramon’s expectations have been high all year, that wasn’t always the case for Monte Vista.
The Mustangs lost 54-13 at Serra-San Mateo in the second week of the season and it looked like rough waters ahead.
“After that game (against Serra), if you told me we’d be down 10-7 at halftime with a chance to play in the Coliseum, I’d of told you you were crazy,” Lockie said. “We really came together as a team and I couldn’t be prouder of my teammates.”
Monte Vista won three straight to close out the regular season and topped Heritage and San Leandro on its path to the semifinals. If it won Saturday’s game, Monte Vista would have returned to the NCS championship for the first time since 2002, when it beat San Ramon at the Coliseum.
San Ramon’s last trip to the finals came in 2007, when Joe Southwick led the Wolves to a win over Cardinal Newman in the 3A East Bay final.
Ryan Mahoney, a sophomore at San Ramon Valley High, has put together a video of Saturday night's game. You can see it here.
Passing: Kline 18/28, 246 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Weiss 13 for 155, 1 TD
Receiving: Worstell 4 for 45; Weiss 2 for 48, Tagliaferri 4 for 40.
Passing: Lockie 20/43, 203 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Johnson 6 for 39; Chang 8 for 19
Receiving: Scritchfield 11 for 98; Johnson 6 for